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MPL seeks "strategic alternatives," looks to triple revenues in next four years.

The Canadian financial publishing firm MPL Communications Inc., with expected revenues of $9 million this year, has retained a financial advisor to seek "strategic alternatives as a means of enhancing shareholder value in the specialized publishing and multimedia company."

MPL, headed by two longtime newsletter executives, Barrie Martland and Steve Pepper, currently serves 72,500 paying subscribers through its eight publications and its internet site, and it is shooting for revenues of almost $27 million by the end of 2004. MPL states that it maintains a relationship with 175,000 Canadian investors.

MPL is a publicly traded company on the Canadian Venture Exchange (CDNX). The financial advisor retained by MPL is BMO Nesbitt of Toronto. "They are the Goldman Sachs equivalent in Canada. They are the Bank of Montreal," Martland said.

MPL (NL/NL 2/29/00) is betting heavily on the development and expansion of its financial web site ( and the continued growth of its print publication to nearly triple its revenues in the next four years.

The financial prospectus states that its "site is receiving 130,000 unique visitors a week and based on results from the 1999 test site, the company is confident its new internet site will begin generating positive cash flow by year-end 2000. By the end of 2001, the company expects to have attracted 30,000 paying subscribers to the site and be generating annual revenues from it of about $4 million.

"By the end of 2002, MPL expects to have almost 50,000 paying subscribers providing annual revenues of over $8 million and it forecasts these totals will rise by the end of 2004 to almost 70,000 paying subscribers producing annual site revenues of $14 million."

The prospectus also asserts that "MPL is preparing to expand into the U.S. and has identified a target that has agreed to be acquired.... the acquisition of this U.S. company will provide MPL with an entry point to introduce a U.S. version of and other services to U.S. customers."

Based in Toronto, MPL has been a publicly traded company since the late 1980s, but its roots reach back to 1941 through The Investment Reporter. MPL was formed in 1966 by Martland and Pepper, fraternity brothers at the University of Western Ontario. It is now the largest publisher of financial advisory newsletters in Canada. More than a year ago the two principals sold four million of the approximately 14 million MPL shares outstanding at an initial price of $1.27 per share in an underwriting deal that allowed them to maintain control.

That underwriting plan also included the issuance of "special warrants" to the initial investors buying the four million shares, which would allow them to purchase a certain number of shares now held by Martland and Pepper.

MPL's shares are traded under the symbol MPZ on the Canadian Venture Exchange (CDNX), which was launched in 1999 with the merger of the Vancouver and Alberta stock exchanges.

During this year the shares of MPL have traded from a high of $1.31 to a low of $.32. On Sept. 15 the shares closed at $.75.
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Author:Marshall, Jim
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 15, 2000
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