Baltimore rebuilds for sale

Could this be the way out?

Could this be the way out?

Shares in struggling security company Baltimore Technologies surged 10 per cent this morning on speculation that today's radical restructuring is clearing the way for a sale of the business. By 12:00 (BST) Baltimore's share price had risen 10.1 per cent to 24.5p on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the company at £125m. Investors were cheered by this morning's restructuring announcement, but the news will be welcomed less by Baltimore employees. Baltimore made a loss before taxation of £550m, mostly due to writing off the falling value of Content Technologies, purchased last year in an all-share deal for over £700m. Baltimore now plans to sell the Content business, which produces anti-virus software, but most reports now value it in the region of £50m, just seven per cent of the purchase price. This will leave Baltimore with just its core PKI authentication business, which it has traditionally sold into the finance, government and healthcare sectors. The restructure will also leave it with less than half of its current employees, with 220 to go immediately, 150 more with the sale of Content Technologies and another 250 before the cull is over. This will take the Baltimore jobs tally from 1,170 at present to just 470 by the middle of next year. Baltimore has already cut in the region of 250 jobs and off-loaded its charismatic CEO Fran Rooney, who led the firm to a £7bn market capitalisation in the technology boom. Acting CEO Paul Sanders denied the sale of Content Technologies was a "fire-sale" but admitted the results were unacceptable. However, the firm is keen to stay independent and said the restructuring announced today will enable it to do this. The company claimed it will be profitable in Q2 2002 and will save £72m through its reorganisation. But analysts aren't convinced, with many citing acquisition as the obvious escape route out for Baltimore now. Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at the Butler Group, said: "This restructuring puts them on the road to recovery, but it also makes them much more attractive to potential buyers. "There are a number of security vendors that would be happy to get hold of the products and the enviable brand name that Baltimore has."