Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Chinese digital signage network AirMedia set to go public

Focus Media gets the lion's share of the news in the Chinese digital signage market, but they'll soon by joined by AirMedia, a network of over 18,000 screens in China's 15 largest airports (and elsewhere, of course). Currently they run 1 hour loops on each screen, of which ads comprise about 25 minutes.

Last year, the company posted revenues of $17.9 million, and had $4.1 million in net income. They've been on a tear of late, and did $4 million net on $15.9 million in sales for the first half of this year alone. According to this press release at Reuters, the company expects to raise up to $100 million when they complete their IPO this Friday (they'll be trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol "AMCN").

Interestingly, in their prospectus the company notes that the primary reason for floating the shares is to create a public market for shareholders, who presumably will want to sell some stake. But the actual acquisition of capital seems to be secondary, and will be used for general operating expenses and perhaps the odd acquisition or two, if you believe what's written. That's quite a different approach than many other companies who of late have been doing anything and everything to try and merge/consolidate multiple companies into one. That, or raise cash simply to stay in business. But given AirMedia's current operating profits and $41 million cash in the bank already, they could clearly have continued to grow pretty aggressively without going public.

As if we needed more data to back up common wisdom, once again we can see that people are willing to bend over backwards to give money to firms that don't actually need it :)

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