Touch Bionics is latest to plan flotation move

ARTIFICIAL limb maker Touch Bionics today became the latest Scottish firm to unveil plans for a stock market flotation.

Touch Bionics has not been put off by recent market volatility

The move by the Livingston-based business, which was spun out from NHS Scotland in 2003, comes despite recent market volatility which was blamed for the pulling of the flotation plans of Edinburgh-based Miller Homes.

Touch Bionics was remaining tight-lipped over the detail of the plans, which were revealed in a stock market filing stating that it had appointed broker and nominated adviser Oriel Securities as it seeks to join London’s Alternative Investment Market (Aim).

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The firm has previously been linked to a possible flotation which could value it at up to £50 million and would provide funding to expand in European and Asian markets.

The company’s robotic hand – the i-Limb – is considered to be the world’s most advanced prosthetic limb, and helped Touch grow its sales by 23 per cent last year to £12.3m. The company has also developed mobile apps which enable clinicians and patients to easily program the features of an i-limb via a handheld mobile device.

Scottish Enterprise owns 28.4 per cent of the firm, which is led by chief executive Ian Stevens, with other investors including Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag and shipping magnate Alastair Salvesen. Angel investor Archangel Informal Investment has also been a long-time backer.

“We are pleased with our 2013 performance and are looking forward to continued growth in 2014,” said Stevens at the time of the results announcement. “Patients have benefited from recent enhancements to our technologies, which can restore significant function and self esteem following the trauma of upper limb loss.”

Touch Bionics was founded by inventor David Gow after he joined the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh where work had been carried out on developing prosthetic limbs for children affected by Thalidomide.

Gow was responsible for research and development at the hospital’s bioengineering centre and in the early 1990s he developed a partial hand system which received significant international acclaim.

In 2003 he led a spin-out company to further develop the device which was backed by funding from a Scottish Enterprise Smart award.

Six years ago Touch Bionics acquired US-based Livingskin, which developed the life-like prosthetic coverings for the i-limb hand.

Earlier this month, Miller Homes blamed turbulent market conditions for its cancelled flotation plans, although one City analyst suggested a disagreement over its valuation could have prompted the change of heart. The

Edinburgh-based firm’s parent had long been rumoured to be eyeing a float, and last month confirmed it was seeking a market debut for the homes division, which would have been valued at more than £450m, propelling it into the FTSE 250.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the firm said its shareholders were “excited to support Miller Homes in its next phase of growth as the company builds upon the momentum evidenced in its recent operational and financial results”.