RDA cancels plans for IPO

Timonium-based software company blames slow market

October 11, 2001|By Andrew Ratner | Andrew Ratner,SUN STAFF

A year after being ranked as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Maryland, RDA Corp., a Timonium-based software engineering company, has canceled plans to go public.

The company notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week that it was withdrawing its registration, filed in June 2000, to sell 4 million shares in an initial public offering.

"Our intention was that if the market came back, we would go with it, but it doesn't look like the market's coming back anytime soon," Stephen F. Kupres, the company's chief financial officer, said yesterday.

The application restricted what the company could say in its marketing and public statements, and the information was very dated, so the company moved to formally withdraw it, he said.

The company has 270 employees. More than half are scattered in the Baltimore-Washington region, including the company's new headquarters in the Timonium II office building off Interstate 83. RDA also has offices in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago.

The company designs software for large corporate clients, including J.P. Morgan, the Nasdaq stock market and United Parcel Service of America Inc. Last October, it ranked 36th in Deloitte & Touche's annual "Fast 50" ranking of the state's fastest-growing technology companies. It reported nearly $50 million in sales in 2000, as it doubled revenue about every two years since the mid-1990s.

Robert Donald Awalt, chairman and chief executive officer, founded RDA in his basement in 1988 after working for Texas Instruments. After receiving jobs for Becton Dickinson and Co. and the World Bank, the company grew from eight employees to almost 300 as it added Internet-based projects.

During the past year, its executives realized that the technology investment fervor that had created instant millionaires had waned. Many of the companies that had gone public suffered as stock prices fell and layoffs ensued.

"We've seen the same sort of softness in the economy everyone else has, but our performance is comparatively strong. We're in good shape," Kupres said.

"It really wasn't a big event for us to make this decision," he said of the IPO withdrawal.

"A lot of stocks were so overly inflated, you knew they had to get back to some reality. It hasn't been a positive thing for some of them. Really, it's just as well it didn't happen. We'll get back out there as soon as the market is receptive."

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