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Whatever happened to Bighand's results – here they are

We've been hearing a lot of rumblings on the grapevine as to what happened to digital dictation software vendor Bighand's financial results for the year ended 31st March 2008 – well they are available now and were finally lodged with Companies House ten days ago on 8th May 2009. We think the explanation for the delay may be down to this comment in the accounts…



The results are attached as a PDF below.


13 replies on “Whatever happened to Bighand's results – here they are”

The individual paragraph lifted from the accounts rather removes the context. The accounts are attached to the original post and I would invite readers who have any interest to look at the accounts in full, where they will note an increase in turnover, EBITDA and cash such that bank debt is being repaid ahead of schedule. Despite the economic climate the company is in very good financial health as shown by the accounts.
David Fryer (CEO BigHand)

Personally I think accusing Charles of taking the comment out of context seems a bit condescending to me as to my mind there is one little flaw in this response and that is the period it covers.
Quote:- 'Despite the economic climate the company is in very good financial health as shown by the accounts'.
In my opinion these accounts don't show that at all. The period the accounts cover was what I reckon most will say was the tail end of the boom when companies were still reporting revenue growth much higher than 8%. Now the accounts to march 2009 would be much more interesting as they might tell a better story but I will guess we may have to wait till May 2010 to see those.
I think Charles is spot on highlighting that comment as to me its about the most telling one in the whole document. Maybe I am missing something but why would any lender let you renegotiate your covenants to a more favourable rate if you were in a good financial position and can pay? And is it possible that the renegotiation of these covenants and the accounting period covered aren't necessarily aligned hence as Charles suggests the lateness of the publication? Maybe BH would have been better not publishing them and taking the fine.

Over £5m of debt @ 8% and the same again @ an average of 2.5% over LIBOR.
You need to generate some cash to pay that back.

Covenants were not “renogotiated to a more favourable rate.” They were relaxed. This usually means that if they were not relaxed the company would have been in default, and potentially the debt would have been callable. They were unable to restructure the debt; the company states that the same exact covenants go back in effect in two years. What happens then….

It's really rather surprising that this thread seems to have generated such keen interest and such wild speculation, though as we are the only DD provider to publish full audited accounts perhaps it's a symptom of readers seeking to get a view on the sector generally.
Be that as it may I'm glad to say that BigHand's accounts for 2008/9, which will be audited and filed during the statutory period, will reveal to the anonymous blog-posters above that we fared well in the last financial year. Sales to the legal sector held up sufficiently well on a global basis, and with a growing contribution from the UK health sector, we were able to achieve the budget that was set for the year.
Although turnover and EBITDA were both down slightly on 2007/8 due to the downturn, the company remained profitable and cash generative. The business continues to de-gear and reduce its indebtedness, with outstanding debt of £4.6m (by end June-09) compared to £5.9m at the end of 07/08.
Overall over 170 new organisations were added as clients during the financial year to March 31 2009 (compared to 150 in the previous year) including Freehills (Aus legal Top-10), Simpson Grierson (NZ legal Top-10), McCarthy Tétrault (Canadian legal Top-10), Thomas Eggar (UK Top-100 legal), Hammonds (UK Top-100 legal), Becker Poliakoff (US legal Top-250), Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (UK Healthcare), Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (UK Healthcare), and Bird and Bird (UK Top-100 legal).
Sales of our “mobility suite” have gone well over the year, especially the BlackBerry module (which won 'Mobile Product of the Year 2008' at the CNet Business Technology Awards), and which brought us to the attention of carriers. Our product is now ‘Certified’ with a number of carriers such as Vodafone in the UK, and Sprint in the US. Product development is ongoing in readiness to provide complete solution to smaller firms or teams where mobility is the enhancer.
I am personally upbeat about this financial year. Market conditions will be tough for most if not all of it, but the diversification into other geographical markets and verticals achieved from 2007-2009, along with the development of other products, means that BigHand is far better placed than most to meet the challenges posed by the recession and to supply a product to businesses and prosumers that are looking to enhance their efficiency and reduce costs.
Aside from that I'd be more than glad to talk through this, or any other queries, in detail on the phone or over a coffee with anyone that is genuinely interested – give me a call on my direct dial 020 7940 5943 if you would like to do so. On that basis I think I may regard any further anonymous postings as being more concerned with mischief making than anything else.
David Fryer (CEO BigHand)

Wow! Mr Fryer, based on that things sound real peachy at Bighand. Although in my opinion none of that great stuff explains why the banking covenants were relaxed which was the point of the previous post.
I think the interest in this thread is very legitimate as by your company's definition 'BigHand is the leading digital dictation vendor in the global professional services sector' so I believe there could be a few nervous folks out there.

David – why don't you publish your 2008/9 accounts now and show these mischief making speculators for what they really are.

I suspect that anyone with any sense will understand and appreciate David Fryers transparency, which I believe acknowledges a good and solid business performance in a tricky financial market; as compared to the Anonymous cats chorus.
When it comes to the cats meow, the Toms who have balls should put a name to themselves,

Re: Whatever happened to Bighand's results – here they are
by David Fryer on Mon 18 May 2009 17:44 BST
“I would invite readers who have any interest to look at the accounts in full, where they will note an increase in turnover, EBITDA and cash…”
Re: Re: Re: Whatever happened to Bighand's results – here they are
by David Fryer on Tue 19 May 2009 17:42 BST
“Although turnover and EBITDA were both down slightly on 2007/8 due to the downturn…”
Which is it?

Err – both correct? First comment relates to 2007/8 and second to 2008/9. Do I win a prize?

In David's defense what he actually said was EBITDA and cash increased in 2007/08 and are down slightly on the previous year in 2008/09 although I think it would be more comforting to see the accounts for 2008/09 rather than having to guess how much slightly is.
In my opinion his primarly task has to be to maximise cash generation to continue to service the debt so with turnover down (like it is for virtually every other supplier and your law firm customers I might add) one guesses downsizing sadly has to be a primary option, although as far as I am aware this has not happened yet so must be another positive to support David's confidence.

I wonder whether David Fryer is getting forgetful re his comments 19th May on BigHand's indebtedness : “The business continues to de-gear and reduce its indebtedness, with outstanding debt of £4.6m (by end June-09) compared to £5.9m at the end of 07/08”. According to published accounts BigHand Holdings' outstanding debt at the end 07/08 was over £12m and not £5.9m – David seems to have forgotten the £6.5m debenture loans element of BigHand's indebtedness. This is suprising given that payments of over £0.5m per annum are required just to service the interest on these loans, in addition to interest payments on the £4.6m of bank loans and any capital repayments which are due.

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