Fri | Dec 1, 2023

LAB still hunts ‘right fit’ firm to buy

Published:Friday | July 22, 2022 | 12:11 AM
CEO of the LAB, Kimala Bennett.
CEO of the LAB, Kimala Bennett.

Advertising and production company Limners and Bards Limited, which trades as the LAB, says it is still on the lookout for businesses strategically aligned for acquisition or merger after three potential targets were found to be unfit for the company.

The company had set out plans to acquire a new business when it came to market with a 2019 initial public offering aimed at raising funds to purchase equipment, finance organic and inorganic growth, and raise its profile to attract more local and regional clients.

Before its listing, the LAB created a wholly owned subsidiary, Scope Caribbean, a business described as a user-generated influencer and talent platform that allows vetted persons to be added to a database of talent that is accessible by film producers, casting directors, agencies, and global brands.

But the hunt for an external company to integrate into its business is still on.

“We continue to evaluate businesses for mergers or acquisition. We have a small committee that looks for businesses fit for acquisition or merger before we take them to the board. We have a very deliberate and clear criteria that is guided by fit, meaning it must be strategically fit and deliver medium- to long-term shareholder value,” Company Director Douglas Lindo said during the LAB’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

“Between the 2021 and 2022 financial year, we probably looked at about three prospects, but they didn’t quite meet the criteria. It’s very important that we remain entrepreneurial; but as an entrepreneurial company, we are managed risk-takers. So again, the business has to be very sound, it has to fit with our financial model because we take our obligation to our stakeholders very seriously,” he continued.

The LAB is said to be eyeing targets in the Caribbean region and beyond.

In the meantime, the company continues to sharpen its focus on the LAB’s content creation department, the newest division created to gin up, for the company, revenues which climbed 26 per cent for the half-year up to April 2022 to $781 million. This contributed to earnings growth of 8.5 per cent year-on-year to $123 million.

The company, headed by Kimala Bennett, has launched its ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition, an initiative that is intended to boost the LAB’s portfolio of owned content.

The pitch involves what the LAB is describing as “big ideas” from creatives, and a road map showing how the idea should be treated. If successful in the pitch, an applicant will have their ideas go through a development stage, then a production phase. The budget to execute the project was not disclosed.

LAB has already rolled out the first in a series of round-table visual podcasts, called ‘Sl8te’.

Most of the company’s growth over the six months to April 2022 came from core business, including media placement, which was up 53.4 per cent, and advertising, which improved by 71.3 per cent. Production was down $9.5 million, or 6.0 per cent.

This year, the company palns to give increased focus to its content division.

“Similar to influencer marketing, with the emergence of so many online platforms there is a need for content, especially from this region. There is a massive opportunity that we want to tap into,” CEO Bennett said.