Going Public

Black-owned PlanetLink Communications debuts on Nasdaq

Kayode A. Aladesuyi, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based PlanetLink Communications Inc., has something to be excited about. Some four years after his company’s inception, the 60% black-owned telecommunications firm has gone public and is looking to expand its operations.
PlanetLink (Nasdaq OTC BB: PLKC.OB) debuted August 16, priced at $3.00 a share. Although the general public can trade PlanetLink’s stock online or through a brokerage house, the company didn’t use the traditional initial public offering (IPO) to go public. Instead, it opted for a reverse merger. Aladesuyi calls it the “best kept secret” of going public. In 2001, PlanetLink merged with the Florida-based Fifth Avenue Acquisition I Corp. — a public corporation — and acquired its shareholder pool. Hence, the private company did a “reverse” merger into the public company.

Aladesuyi, who founded PlanetLink in 1998, says the company decided not to offer an IPO because of current economic conditions and the belief that it needed more time to introduce itself and its business strategy to the market. PlanetLink plans a follow-up public stock offering in the second quarter of 2003.

The company’s revenues for 2001 totaled $601,587, generating $411,984 in sales for the first quarter of 2002, which ended March 31. Aladesuyi projects revenues of $1.5 million for 2002 and $10 million for 2003 based on PlanetLink’s Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and lack of heavy competition. “In the satellite television and satellite Internet access businesses, there are no organized competitors at this time, primarily because the industry is relatively new, and we intend to capitalize on the advantage we hold.”

The company’s initial focus was to resell long-distance residential and business telephone services and satellite-based consumer products and services. But in 2002, it switched to the emerging satellite-enabled technology market, using its partnership with Littleton, Colorado-based EchoStar Communications Corp. and StarBand, which is based in McLean, Virginia, to provide digital programming and high-speed satellite Internet service.

Although satellite TV and high-speed Internet will remain a viable part of the business, Aladesuyi calls the development of the company’s GPS technology “the cornerstone of PlanetLink’s new business strategy.” This technology will include products such as the KidAngel, which is designed to help locate missing children; PareTrak, which is aimed at locating the elderly; AutoSpeedTrak, which monitors teenage driving; The Protector, for females who need assistance in times of danger; and The Guardian, which is aimed at protecting business travelers.

Looking forward, the company is preparing to expand its retail locations, currently in shopping malls in the Southeast, throughout the United States. Aladesuyi links the retail concept to the company’s current growth. And although he says PlanetLink is not reinventing the wheel, he is hopeful that the “live-demonstration environment” will create customer loyalty.

ACROSS THE WEB