Cupid founders net £11m each in share placing

THE joint founders of Cupid, the fast-growing Edinburgh-based dating website operator, scooped almost £11m million each yesterday after selling shares via an institutional placing.

Max Polyakov, who announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down as a director to pursue other business plans, and chief executive Bill Dobbie each sold six million shares, representing 15 per cent of the company.

After yesterday’s move Polyakov still holds 15.5 per cent of Cupid through Opalta, and Dobbie retains 17 per cent.

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The stock was placed at 180p a share through company broker Peel Hunt. That compared with a closing market price of 195p, down 9p.

It was expected Polyakov would sell part of his stake to help bankroll his plan announced this week to move to California and set up an online social gaming firm.

Sources close to yesterday’s placing said part of the reason for Dobbie’s sale was to increase liquidity in the stock to broaden the shareholder base as the next part in Cupid’s development as a business. The company announced two board appointments earlier this week as part of this process.

Cupid floated on the Alternative Investment Market at 60p a share in June 2010.

Along with news of Polyakov’s departure, the firm announced on Tuesday a 69 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £7m for 2011, on revenues up 109 per cent to £53.6m. The group’s markets include the UK, Australasia and Ireland.