A flotation and more ambitious expansion will crown a particularly active year at the 365 Corporation, which is now gaining increased recognition for its sport, entertainment and lifestyle Internet sites. The company was co-founded in September 1997 by marketing director Simon Morris, a former Sega and BSkyB director, and chief executive Dan Thompson, a one-time Price Waterhouse chartered accountant. In September, the company's sites accommodated 8.5 million user sessions, indicating the success that persuaded directors to seek a Stock Exchange listing. City briefings will continue next week, with the listing expected before the end of the month. The flotation will be yet another challenge for finance director Martin Turner, a former Arthur Andersen and Price Waterhouse accountant, who joined the board in February when 365 bought Symphony Telecom, where he was also finance director. The acquisition provided 41-year-old Turner with his first big task. The internal mechanics, including the financial reporting systems, of the Internet business and the acquired telecommunications company had to be integrated. There was more to come. The 365 Corporation bought C Sport, owner of France's largest Internet soccer site, and its support business Electron Libre, and formed a new company in Cape Town to produce rugby content. These presented similar integration work, but Turner points out that 365 is careful to buy businesses that can dovetail technically and managerially and is wary of overpriced Internet companies. The flotation is needed by 365 to fund its continuing expansion. The directors are reticent about their intentions - a natural stance to take in such a competitive market - and will only give hints. Turner declares: 'It is fair to say we have aggressive growth plans. With the initial public offering we shall be looking at more international expansion.' The deadline for employees to apply for shares passed on Monday and the retail offer closed on Tuesday. However, so far there is date set for the company's market debut. 'We are still going through the presentation stages,' says Turner.
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