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Arria losses double to £13m despite 1200% revenue growth

DATA translation company Arria NLG has seen annual losses double from £6.5 million to £13m in the run up to its listing on the Alternative Investment Market.

Revenue grew in excess of 1200% from £62,554 to £816,178 in the 12 months to September 30, 2013, which Arria said was mainly because the software product the business provides was taken on by oil and gas giant Shell.

Shell has used Arria's technology to monitor compressors and other equipment on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The natural language generation (NLG) engine system, based on research done at Aberdeen University and technology developed by spin-out Data2Text, takes in complex sets of data and analyses them to produce readable reports and graphics without human intervention.

The Met Office, which uses the system to generate high quality text for weather forecasts, is Arria's other customer.

Arria's preliminary financial statement shows administrative expenses went from £6.5m to £13.7m.

It said it raised £5.3m in the financial year, and £4.2m to fund the full acquisition of Data2Text, of which Arria owned 20%, as well as to provide working capital.

The multi-million pound deal for Data2Text was completed prior to Arria's listing on AIM in December.

The founders of Data2Text - Professor Ehud Reiter, Dr Somayajulu Sripada, Ian Davy and John Perry - were also given shares in Arria as part of the transaction, with Aberdeen University also getting a stake.

Prof Reiter, Dr Sripada and Mr Davy each have more than 5.3 million shares in Arria, with Mr Perry though to have a stake of slightly less than half of that.

The university has around 4.8 million shares although all parties are understood to have lock-in periods of 12 months before they can start offloading stock.

Prof Reiter is now chief scientist at Arria while Dr Sripada is chief NLG development scientist

Yesterday Stuart Rogers, Arria chief executive, said: "The directors believe that the prospects for the group are very bright.

"Negotiations continue with existing clients to expand the scope of our relationships, which the directors expect to result in deeper and longer engagements."

Mr Rogers believes Arria is better placed to attract more customers through its higher profile as a stock market listed business and has also seen growing interest since a presentation at a petroleum engineering conference in Dubai last year.

He said: "We are greatly encouraged by the growing interest in Arria's core technology from companies that are now aware of our capabilities in the oil and gas sector.

"We are confident that we will advance our existing presence in the oil and gas sector and that over the coming months we will achieve initial traction with new clients whilst extending our engagements with our existing clients."

Arria, which has its headquarters in London, has previously indicated healthcare and financial services are two other industries it would consider moving into.

At the end of September last year Arria had £3.9m of net cash on its balance sheet but has raised an additional £8.3m since then.

The business was valued at around £120m on its admission to AIM.

Arria noted in the financial statement that it "expects to continue to make losses as it invests in developing new markets for its products and securing its position in commercialising natural language generation."

NLG is a field of artificial intelligence and involves computer programmes being set up to analyse complex sets of data then translate the numbers into reports that are easily readable.

Shares closed the first day of trading on AIM at 160p but then rose sharply to 282.5p the following day. The stock has since fallen back and been changing hands between 125p and 135p throughout January.

The shares closed flat at 130p.

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