Ana Stewart to net £2.3m from I-Design sale

Ana Stewart will stay on as managing director of I-Design. Picture: Daniel Jones
Ana Stewart will stay on as managing director of I-Design. Picture: Daniel Jones
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I-Design founder Ana Stewart and her husband are set to pocket £2.3 million by selling the firm to US cash machine operator Cardtronics in a surprise deal unveiled yesterday.

The Dundee-based cash machine software firm, which floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2007, looks almost certain to be de-listed after the board unanimously recommended the 60p-a-share deal.

The company’s major shareholders, holding about 62 per cent of the stock, have already accepted the offer, which values the business at about £8.5m and is thought to follow confidential negotiations that started in September.

The price is a premium of about 160 per cent on the closing share price of 23p on Tuesday, although the stock has traded above the 60p mark as recently as the autumn of 2011.

Shares closed up 156.5 per cent or 36p at 59p last night.

Under the deal, I-Design will keep its existing offices in Dundee and London and be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary separate to Cardtronics’ existing UK cash machine operation.

The deal could even lead to more jobs as the new owner has made clear its desire to grow the business.

Stewart, who founded the firm in 1991 with her savings and a grant from Scottish Enterprise, will take up a senior position with Nasdaq-listed Cardtronics and will stay on as managing director of I-Design on a salary of £120,000.

The entrepreneur said she had no regrets about relinquishing control of the company that she has led for more than 20 years, and sees the takeover as a chance to expand.

“This is a great opportunity to pursue growth and take I-Design on a new path, and an exciting path,” she told The Scotsman. “This is a very good deal for shareholders and staff.”

Stewart holds a stake of just over 16 per cent. Her husband, programmer Ralph Hasselgren, who came on board in 1996 and has been a consultant to the firm in recent years, owns just under 11 per cent.

The pair will stay with the firm for at least three years and will spend 20 per cent of their pay-out buying shares in Cardtronics. Stewart will join the US firm’s executive committee.

Cardtronics – which operates more than 60,000 ATMs in Canada, Mexico, the US and UK – said it intends to keep I-Design’s executive management team, and said the takeover would “not have any adverse repercussions” on the group’s employees.

It plans to develop the Scottish business, expanding using its market position and relationships with financial institutions to promote its latest software and expand the “third party” ATM advertising business.

I-Design chairman and advertising industry veteran James Faulds, who is selling a 7.8 per cent stake in the firm, said the deal would provide I-Design with the opportunity to accelerate its growth and widen its reach in a way not currently available.

The takeover should net about £410,000 for Scottish Enterprise, which invested in I-Design during a funding round prior to flotation.

Sigma Capital, the Aim-quoted property investment vehicle in which Sir Tom Hunter holds a large stake, was another early investor and still holds a substantial stake.