iGene conquers UK, eyes Middle East and US next
By Goh Thean Eu June 10, 2014
- Deals expected to be inked in the next few months
- Looking to be EBITDA positive in as quickly as 4yrs
AFTER years of perseverance, Matt Chandran, the chief executive officer of iGene Sdn Bhd, is now on the verge of turning his company into a global player.
iGene, which specialises in advanced medical visualisation technology, has recently opened a digital autopsy centre in Bradford, its second to open in the United Kingdom.
After Bradford, the company is likely to expand its presence to Birmingham and London. The plan is that by the end of next year, there would be 18 such centres in the United Kingdom.
The entire UK rollout would cost £50 million (US$84 million). But iGene is not stopping there. Plans are underway to expand into the Middle East and the United States as well.
“Hopefully in a few months, we would be able to expand into Abu Dhabi,” Chandran told selected media, including Digital News Asia (DNA), during a visit to Bradford recently. “We are also in talks with various parties on the possibility of expanding to the United States.”
Chandran said that that iGene’s move into Abu Dhabi would be executed on a turnkey basis, with the company being paid to design, build and maintain a digital autopsy centre.
The idea is that once the digital autopsy centre is built in Abu Dhabi, iGene would be able to use the country as its base to expand its presence in the Middle East.
Its US venture is likely to involve a joint venture partner, where the local partner will pump in the capital and iGene will pump in its intellectual property (IP) and expertise to run the operations, according to Chandran.
“We are in talks with a few potential local partners in the United States right now,” he said.
In January 2013, iGene made headlines when Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) announced an RM70-million (US$21.9-million) investment into the company.
“The funds raised from AIM was very specific for us to create the UK ecosystem,” Chandran said.
Having secured the RM70-million funding from AIM to create the UK ecosystem, and at the same time, without needing to put in its own money into the Abu Dhabi and US expansion, does it mean that the days of iGene sourcing for fresh funds are over?
“A growing business is like a child. It always need more food, and money is the fuel for business growth. But we are not pressed for money in order for us to complete the task, because we have matched the source of funds to the plan [behind the funding]," he said.
Nevertheless Chandran, who currently has an approximately 58% stake in iGene, said that he is open to selling a portion of this should the need arise.
“I am willing to do anything in order to grow the company and it was never my intention to hold the company. Generally, I believe that everything has got its phases, and I am only an entrepreneur.
“During the growth stage and the formation stage, I believe that I can play a lot of roles. But as the company goes more global, my role would diminish or become limited, because the global setting would mean we need more leaders,” he said.
He said that the UK operation is one good example, where it can operate independently and has its own leadership and its own team. “That’s what I want to see. I don’t want to be very personally involved in every initiative around the world,” he added.
He also said that he is open to all options to take iGene to the next level, and these plans include an initial public offering.
“As an entrepreneurial company, we know what we can do and we know what we can’t do; but we also don’t know what we don’t know. So if there are parties that come and tell us what else we can do, we would be happy to listen.
“Of course, our attitude here is that we end up getting educated and if it helps the growth of the company, we are always very happy to listen,” he added.
EBITDA positive in 4 years?
In the company’s roadmap, it expects to be EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) positive in as quickly as four years, according to Chandran.
“Like most companies, we have an eight-year plan. We see ourselves being EBITDA positive in about four to five years,” he said.
This will be certainly good news to its shareholders Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (Mavcap) and AIM. Mavcap is believed to have bought a 15% stake for RM7.5 million (US$2.3 million), while AIM’s stake in iGene is currently at 25%.
Chandran believes that iGene, as a company, could be worth some RM500 million (US$156 million). Should a deal happen at that valuation, Mavcap can potentially be looking at a return of 1,000%, while AIM could see a return of over 100%. (In earlier DNA reports, Chandran revealed that the AIM investment values iGene at RM200 million).
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