Initial surge for debuting Lateral shares

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 12:23 18/08/2014

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Shares in Auckland mobile payment company Lateral Corporation jumped 75 per cent to 35 cents and then sank backed to their 20c issue price in thin trading on the NZAX.

The company debuted on the junior exchange this morning through a "compliance" listing that valued the firm at $4.1m. An hour into trading, just 16,000 shares had changed hands at an average price of 21c.

The 11-person company supplies technology that lets mobile phone users pay for online transactions directly from their phone accounts.

It is best known for supplying the technology used to support television entertainment text polls such as the one used by "NZ's Got Talent" and mobile chat services such as Australia's OZchat.

However, it is chasing a much bigger market. Chief executive Roger Grice said Lateral was among a handful of companies that had developed a payment system that let smartphone users purchase apps with a "single click" by having the cost deducted from their mobile account.

Grice said direct-carrier billing was "embryonic" at the moment but could help reverse "app fatigue" among smartphone owners. Research suggested people would spend US$12 billion on apps purchased that way by 2017, he said.

Lateral's system, called Viaduct, was "running perfectly" in Australia and would be supported by all Australian carriers within a few days, he said. It had been tested in Britain and should be available in that market by the end of September, he said. "We have been working on this for three years now and only a handful companies have put the back-end to do this in place."

Lateral has about 500 investors and did not raise fresh capital through its NZAX listing, but Grice said it would now seek $1.5m from professional investors and would probably carry out a share placement to raise further capital from its shareholders in six to nine months. A disclosure document indicated it might raise a further $2.6m through the placement.

"The intention is to raise $1.5m now and then assess our capital requirements over the six months following. One of the things we are trying to do is not ask investors to put in too much, too early; we want to demonstrate good performance and then go back to the market," Grice said.

It had decided not to raise capital from the general public because of the compliance costs involved in putting together a full prospectus, he said.

Lateral's annual revenues have declined from $2.2m in 2010 to $745,000 this year. The company said that was in part due to distribution changes in the mobile market and a period of technical disruption in the mobile industry which it believed had now passed.

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