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Research Now Buys Canada's OpenVenue

January 31 2007

Panels company Research Now has announced the acquisition of Samplenet e-Research Solutions, which trades as OpenVenue. The price for Canada's largest specialist online fieldwork company is a maximum of C$47.5m (£20.5m), subject to performance.

The deal, Research Now's first strategic acquisition since IPO in August 2005, includes an initial consideration of C$22.5m (£9.7m), split equally between cash and shares, and additional payments totalling up to C$25m (£10.8m) of cash or shares subject to the achievement of performance targets for the periods ending 31 October 2007 and 2008. The buy is subject to endorsement at Research Now's 2007 AGM next Tuesday, and is financed with the aid of debt facilities of up to £7m with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

OpenVenue's current Directors, Jeff Karry and John Visser, will join the enlarged Group as Senior VP for North American Operations and Business Development, respectively. The firm's staff of 100 will join 150 Research Now employees, on completion.

OpenVenue, owns the largest online consumer panel in Canada, comprising over 400,000 panellists, but also derives more than a third of its revenues from US clients. In the twelve months to 30 June 2006, its turnover was C$15.3m (£6.6m) (2005: C$11.1m) and earnings before interest, tax and non-recurring items were C$2.8m (£1.2m) (2005: C$2.6m).

Research Now CEO Chris Havemann comments, 'OpenVenue's business is highly complementary to ours in terms of culture, service and focus on the quality of client experience. It gives us access to a new and fast growing market Canada and gives us an excellent platform from which to accelerate the rollout of our US business.' The UK-based firm has sales and client service offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco and plans the launch of its US panel in the spring.

According to OpenVenue President Karry, 'The combination of our Canadian panel, Research Now's planned US panel and its 20 European and Australian panels, backed by our joint online data collection and panel management expertise, is a unique and compelling offer to North American market research firms.'

MD Andrew Cooper says OpenVenue 'also brings industry leading survey scripting skills, allowing clients working with us to undertake complex multi-country surveys, all overseen by a single Research Now contact person.'

Research Now has also appointed an Interim Chief Financial Officer, David Packford. Packford is a qualified chartered accountant who spent 20 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the last six as a partner in the Transaction Services division.

Research Now has 10 offices spread through Europe, Australia and the US and is an independent public company quoted on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, with a web site at www.researchnow.co.uk .

All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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