Argent Networks Raises $8 Million in Venture Capital

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Tuesday, 26 October 2004 Â? Auckland, New Zealand - Argent Networks, one of the worldÂ?s leading developers of customer care and billing solutions to the fixed, mobile, broadband and next-generation telecomms market, today announced it had successfully completed an $8 million capital raising from two of New ZealandÂ?s leading technology investors: TMT Ventures and No 8 Ventures.

Argent Networks, one of the world’s leading developers of customer care and billing solutions to the fixed, mobile, broadband and next-generation telecomms market, today announced it had successfully completed an $8 million capital raising from two of New Zealand’s leading technology investors: TMT Ventures and No 8 Ventures.

With customers in 12 countries, the new capital will be used to expand the company’s operations in the Middle East and Africa, where it has already achieved significant success, and to expand to further regions. Argent has high-profile deployments in the post-war reconstructions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and its first African deployment in Liberia.

The Middle East and Africa offer significant further opportunities – particularly in the mobile sector, with large populations and a youth demographic, low tele-density rates in traditional fixed line networks, increasing deregulation, and significant investment into new wireless networks. In regions where real commitment is required from vendors and building long-term relationships are fundamental to success, New Zealand’s political neutrality is a significant attribute, as is the high quality of software development from New Zealand vendors as typified by Argent.

Customer care and billing platforms form the most critical component of a telecom service provider’s infrastructure and gone are the days where billing had only to cater for voice calls from a fixed line. Today’s service providers need to be able to bill on a pre or post-paid basis for traffic ranging from voice calls through to data, images and video – delivered from a multitude of devices and across a variety of fixed and wireless networks. Argent is at the forefront of developing these next-generation billing platforms.

Chris Jones, founder and chief executive of Argent welcomed the investment: “Over the last three years the team at Argent has worked incredibly hard in securing very significant customers. We’ve achieved that, we know our technology is market leading, and with this capital round completed we’re now extremely well-funded to expand our operations throughout the Middle East, Africa and beyond.”

The investment was led by TMT Ventures and included follow-on investment by No 8 Ventures, an investor in the company since 2001. TMT’s investors include Telecom New Zealand, Alcatel, Lucent and Marconi along with financial investors. Each of TMT and No 8 are also managers of the New Zealand Government’s Venture Investment Fund (VIF) and the investment into Argent brings to 14 the number of investments made by VIF managers since 2003 and the third in which VIF managers have co-invested. Argent becomes the 11th direct investment made by TMT.

Gavin Lonergan, investment director for TMT and chairman of the New Zealand Venture Capital Association commented: “Off the back of an improving sentiment for the technology sector, 2004 has seen a real step up in investment activity in the New Zealand market and Argent has all the attributes investors look for - leading product, a global market that’s demand driven, a well-developed strategy and most of all, a management team with the ability and experience to execute it. We’re very excited about what Argent has achieved to date and the opportunities ahead.”

The company was initially funded by a syndicate led by No 8 Ventures partner, Jenny Morel, who has been chairman of Argent since 2001. Commenting on the announcement, Jenny said: “We look forward to being with Argent for the next stage in the journey and seeing the benefits from all the hard work already done.”

With the rapid migration from voice-only revenue streams to next-generation services, incumbent billing systems from the large vendors are struggling to keep up and in many instances service providers are having to cobble together disparate operational support systems. Argent offers the unparalleled integration and flexibility that service providers need to deliver next-generation services. The successful capital raising follows on the excellent progress that the company has made since its establishment, and given the industry demand for replacing outdated legacy systems the company is set to continue its rapid growth.

About Argent Networks

Argent Networks designs, develops, integrates and supports billing and customer care solutions for fixed line, wireless and next generation service providers. Argent has built its reputation by developing highly flexible, scalable and cost-effective solutions that support real-time, transaction-based, convergent billing and customer care for voice, data, video and content services. The company’ innovative solutions work behind the scenes to help carriers grow revenue, increase customer satisfaction, control and lower costs, and prepare for future growth.

About Direct Capital and TMT Ventures

Direct Capital was established in 1994 and is New Zealand’s leading private equity firm with four investment programmes, including TMT Ventures, investing across all stages of capital funding from start-ups to buyouts. With 14 investment professionals, Direct Capital has invested over $150 million into more than 35 companies.

Managed by TMT Management, a joint venture between Auckland-based Direct Capital Private Equity Limited and Boston based Advent International, TMT Ventures is a corporate venture programme with NZ$103 million under management from investors that include Telecom New Zealand, Alcatel, Lucent and Marconi and a number of financial investors. TMT Management is also a manager of the New Zealand government’s Venture Investment Fund. TMT invests in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors of New Zealand and Australia. For further information please visit:

http://www.directcapital.co.nz

About No 8 Ventures

No 8 Ventures is a New Zealand venture capital firm, which invests in early stage technology companies with the potential to become large and international. No 8 Ventures was founded in 1998 by Jenny Morel and now has over $60M under management. No 8 Ventures is investing in Argent from its No 2 Fund and the funds it manages for the New Zealand Government’s Venture Investment Fund. For further information please visit: http://www.no8ventures.co.nz

For further information:

Chris Jones, Chief Executive, Argent Networks Limited, +64 9 300 1794 or +64 21 633951

Gavin Lonergan, Investment Director, TMT Management Limited, +64 9 307 2562 or +64 21 277 2482

Jenny Morel, Chairman, Argent Networks Ltd & Partner, No 8 Ventures Limited, +64 4 499 2029

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Peter Meredith
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