Defenx PLC Q&A with CFO Philipp Prince & UK Bond Network CEO Christopher Maule

Defenx Plc

Defenx PLC (LON:DFX) Chief Financial Officer Philipp Prince and UK Bond Network Chief Executive Officer Christopher Maule caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss funding through the UK Bond Network


Q1: Now, Philipp, if I can start off with you, what interested Defenx PLC in the UK Bond Network as opposed to choosing a route to raise equity more traditionally?

A1: Well, as you’ve seen this week, we’ve done a combination of the two, creating the right debt and equity mix is important to us, each has its advantages and disadvantages. We started to incorporate debt into our mix last year as we disclosed in the 2016 Annual Report with the acquisition of Memopal in Italy and its low-cost local debt.

We approached UK Bond Network because of their ability and willingness to underwrite a proportion of the bond, that means that we were able to get a market with certainty that we would raise money and of course, they’ve been very flexible with the structuring of their instrument. Finally, the auction process we believe should yield a sensible price for the debt.


Q2: So, why the fundraise now?

A2: I’d say three reasons really, everybody knows that cyber security is a hot sector, it’s very active at the moment and there are huge opportunities.

The recent ransomware attacks, like WannaCry, have added publicity to an issue that’s already high on Board agendas and Defenx really want to capitalise on that positive sentiment to continue to grow rapidly and profitably.

Leading into corporate customers is the next stage of that, our association with BV Tech, our strategic partnership that was announced in April, gives us access to corporate customers and raising this money means we can develop the product that those customers want, to accelerate that growth more quickly than we could do on our own and as you now, timing is everything.

Next summer, May, the EU’s Data Protection Regulations comes into place and that’s creating a time limit opportunity that we want to exploit. Market seasonality means we really want to invest now to maintain the momentum we’ve got into the really busy second half of the year.

So, those are the reasons we’re raising the money now.


Q3: What will Defenx be using the proceeds of the fundraise for?

A3: Well, we’ve got a coordinated 12-month investment plan, putting various components together to ensure that we deliver that acceleration in our revenue on a profitable basis. The key component is around €3 million into our product portfolio, notably corporate versions, as I said, of our software for example, things like encrypted cloud back-up. We’ll then be putting small amounts into delivering sales capacity, that’s people, primarily in Italy to start with to serve those corporate customers and a modest amount into some features in marketing so that we create end-user engagement and drive renewals of our existing customer base.


Q4: Chris, what attracted the UK Bond Network to working with Defenx PLC?

A4: I think, initially, one of the main reasons was the fact that they’re operating in a sector, as Philipp says, is particularly hot at the moment and one that we find very interesting and where we believe there is a strong growth opportunity and importantly, we believe that the management are both well positioned and capable of executing this. We’ve actually been following the company since their IPO and opened a dialogue with them, perhaps a year or so now, and at the time collectively decided that it was an opportunity that was probably best revisited a bit further down the line. In that period in between, it’s been great to see that they’ve continued to perform and deliver as a business ranging from adding additional channel partners to the successful integration of Memopal to moving to what is their fifth year of what is profitable growth and delighted to know have managed to conclude a transaction with them.


Q5: So, why do you think your type of funding can better support a growing business over the more traditional equity?

A5: Again, to echo some of the reasons that Philipp’s mentioned himself, I think it’s the overall flexibility that we’re able to provide companies like Defenx and that’s really driven by the fact that there is a genuine desire to understand the underlying business and use that knowledge to propose a tailored funding solution rather than something off the shelf or more cookie-cutter. I think the fact that the convertible, which is very attractive to our investors in terms of giving them optionality to convert the bond into shares at £2, back to the point about the convertible and it being priced at the placing obviously offers a lower level of dilution to the business than it would through a straight equity issue. I think this is an appeal alongside the fact that we can provide certainty of funding through our underwriter which gives all parties the knowledge that the transaction will complete within a certain funding range.

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