The Globe and Mail's Andrew Willis reported yesterday that Calgary's SMART Technologies ULC is on the verge of raising $400 Million as it takes the company public in the next 3-4 months. SMART is the world's leading manufacturer of the interactive whiteboards that are becoming increasingly common in schools and meeting rooms.
Smart is run by co-founders Nancy Knowlton, the chief executive officer, and David Martin, the chairman. They founded the company in 1987 as the Canadian distributor for a U.S. projector maker, then started doing their own research and development, producing their first whiteboard in 1991. The couple remain substantial minority shareholders.
Ms. Knowlton has said in the past that the company is preparing to go public. Yesterday, a Smart spokeswoman said no decision has been made on an IPO, and the company "is reviewing its options on an ongoing basis."
According to investment banking sources, the planned share offering is driven in large part by the needs of SMART's two other minority investors, private equity firm Apax Partners and the VC arm of Intel Corp.
Both funds want to cash out their holdings in a company that boasts 30% annual growth and 60% global market share. With 1.2 Million of its whiteboards hanging in classrooms and offices, SMART sells more units each year than all its competitors combined.
If SMART is successful in raising $400 Million in an IPO, that offering would value the company at more than $2 Billion. Smart.