And I remember chatting to a few folk in wonderment over some of the numbers being thrown around in this article from just a year ago...http://www.wholesaleinvestor.com.au/news_detail/duttondirectcom_now_ready_to_merge_with_international_partner_founder_says/?id_NEW=56
Duttondirect.com now ready to merge with international partner, founder says
Duttondirect.com, an online portal for luxury goods, is now ready to talk to an international merger partner that can help with its global expansion plans, founder James Dutton told this news service.
Duttondirect.com is currently rolling out licences for its technology globally, first in Milan, to be followed by Russia, Dubai, the UK and US, and a planned 119 more countries in the next five years, by which time Dutton believes Duttondirect.com could have turnover of AUD 250m (USD 201m).
Dutton is currently talking to a number of interested private investors to raise AUD 2m (USD 1.6m) for a 25% stake. He explained that as it is an unlisted public company, it is limited by the “20-20 rule” and can only raise AUD 2m (USD 1.6m) a year.
However, he said, there are no constraints to a merger, and while management would want to still have an involvement in the business, he is now willing to talk to merger partners as well. "We are now ready to align with the right big brother," he said.
Duttondirect.com has 21 shareholders including Andrew Barlow, who was instrumental in taking Australian online competitive intelligence service Hitwise to the world stage. Hitwise was acquired by UK-headquartered global information service company Experian in 2006.
Asked what Duttondirect.com would be valued at in a merger deal, Dutton pointed to listed, Australian online recruitment site Seek’s sale of a 25% stake to listed, Australian media group PBL in 2006 for AUD 33m (USD 26.5m). He added that Duttondirect.com’s model had the potential to be even stronger than the Seek model because of its high-end online technology, back-end infrastructure, proven business model and branding. Dutton, who comes from a well-established Melbourne family, also heads 98-year-old Duttons Automotive, an Australian dealership for prestige and classic motors.
In addition to PBL, Dutton said other listed, Australian online portal market leaders such as News and Fairfax could make ideal merger partners because Duttondirect’s niche online product could add to their online offerings. Globally, he added, companies like California, US-headquartered publishing business developer Curtco or UK-headquartered luxury lifestyle group Quintessentially would provide a direct fit and “could be even stronger plays”.
The company’s accountants are MPR Group and Grant Thornton and its lawyer is IMPEX Lawyers & Advisers.