TeleSpectrum Worldwide shares popular in debut Company raises $140.9 million in initial public offering

Marketing

August 09, 1996|By Abbe Gluck | Abbe Gluck,SUN STAFF

TeleSpectrum Worldwide Inc., which next week will complete its acquisition of TeleSpectrum Inc. of Annapolis and five other telemarketing companies, went public yesterday, selling 10.62 million shares of common stock and raising $140.9 million.

The company saw its shares rise $1.3125, to $16.3125, by the close of its first day of trading. With more than 6.4 million shares changing hands, it was the third most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq.

The IPO was managed by J.P. Morgan & Co., Dillon, Read & Co., Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. and Robinson-Humphrey Co.

TeleSpectrum Worldwide is the subsidiary created in April by CRW Financial Inc., a national debt collection agency based in King of Prussia, Pa. Over the past four months, TeleSpectrum Worldwide has entered agreements to purchase six telemarketing companies, including Tele-Spectrum Inc., which it is buying for $10.4 million in cash, stock and debt, said Richard Schwenk, chief financial officer of the new company. The sales will be completed Wednesday.

CRW retained the TeleSpectrum name "because it had the largest and finest reputation," said J. Brian O'Neil, CRW chairman and the new company's chairman and chief executive.

Yesterday, the stock "did phenomenally well," said Kathleen Smith, an analyst at Renaissance Capital Corp. in Greenwich, Conn. "They priced at $15 and many of the IPOs recently are barely able to stay around their price -- they went above."

Of the industry, she added, "these are strong stocks that have stayed strong through a weak market."

With $103 million in revenue in the 12 months through June, the six companies combined are only a bit smaller than the industry leaders, APAC Teleservices Inc. and Sitel Corp., which saw revenues of $174 million and $128 million in the same period, Smith said.

But she said the $140.9 million TeleSpectrum netted from the sale "is not a major positive," because $94.6 million will be used to pay off the owners of the six companies.

"These people are continuing with the company so they have reaped a lot of the benefit from the sale, instead of the stockholders," Smith said.

For Maryland, the sale means more growth in the industry.

fTC "We've spent many years here developing a very strong employee base, so we're very interested in continued expansion in the Baltimore area," said Karen Schweitzer, founder of TeleSpectrum Inc.

Last week, her company, which employs 300 people in Maryland, opened its third office in the state, a 15,000 square-foot space at Woodlawn's Meadows Business Park.

It also has offices in Linthicum and Annapolis.

And in an expected announcement yesterday, another one of the six companies, North Carolina-based Somar, said it will open a calling center in Hagerstown that will add up to 350 jobs, with pay ranging from $15,000 to $22,000 a year and full benefits.

TeleSpectrum Worldwide plans to integrate the finances and operations of the six companies, which do everything from research to making and taking calls for corporate clients. TeleSpectrum Inc. had handled inbound calls for Fortune 500 companies.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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