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Monica Fong from David Livingstone Elementary works on a SMART board in class in Vancouver, BC, February 29, 2008. (Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail/Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail)
Monica Fong from David Livingstone Elementary works on a SMART board in class in Vancouver, BC, February 29, 2008. (Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail/Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail)

Smart Technologies debuts on TSX, Nasdaq Add to ...

Shares of Smart Technologies Inc. began trading in New York and Toronto Thursday morning in a $660-million offering that ranks as the biggest Canadian tech IPO in a decade.

In early trading, the shares were holding close to the listing price of $17, the middle of the target set by the underwriters.

"We are positive about our current business results and our future opportunities," said Nancy Knowlton, president and chief executive officer. "We would like to see good investor interest today."

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The Calgary-based company makes electronic whiteboards that combine characteristics of a traditional whiteboard display with a computer. By touching the surface of the product, a user can control computer applications, access the Internet, write in digital ink and save and share work.

Ms. Knowlton co-founded the company with chairman David Martin in 1987. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Smart Technologies posted a profit of $142-million on sales of $648-million. It has traditionally boasted an annual growth rate of between 20 and 30 per cent. Last year sales rose by 38.4 per cent.

Schools and universities comprise the biggest market for Smart Technologies at the moment, but the company says it sees large opportunities in the business and government sectors as well as from licensing its touch technology.

The IPO was driven largely by Smart Technologies' two external investors, chip giant Intel Corp. and private equity firm Apax Partners.

"We were looking to provide some liquidity to Intel and Apax," Ms. Knowlton said in an interview from New York, adding that Intel invested in the firm in 1992.

Of the total proceeds of $660.1-million raised in the IPO, $483.7-million will go to Intel and Apax, $141.7-million to the company itself and the remaining $34.7-million to the underwriters.

Smart Technologies' dual-class share structure gives ten votes per class B shares compared with only 1 vote per class A shares, which are being sold to the public.

The co-founders will own 34.2 per cent of the company and retain 32.4 per cent voting control. Intel and Apax Partners will own about 22 per cent and 43.8 per cent respectively. Apax will have a controlling stake of about 41.5 per cent to Intel's 20.8 per cent.

Smart Technologies will use its share of the proceeds to pay down debt and for general working capital, Ms. Knowlton said. The company has $213.7-million of long-term debt due and contractual obligations in 2011.



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