Could Interest in Virtual Roadshow Erupt with Volcano?

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New York, NY – In the wake of the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and the worst ever peacetime disruption to international air travel with over 17,000 flights canceled on Saturday, some analysts think that demand for video conferencing platforms might be poised to surge.  One UK-based research firm, Independent International Investment Research (IIIR), is similarly wondering if the current disaster will increase investor and issuer interest in its new ROVR.tv platform providing virtual access to corporate management roadshows. 

In recent months, a number of independent research providers and agency brokerage firms like Liquidnet, Convergex, Instinet, and CAPIS, just to name a few, have announced the release of new “management access” services, connecting institutional investors with corporate issuers.  While all of these services are unique in various ways, they are all similar in one important fashion – they all put buy-side investors and corporate managers together for physical meetings.

However, IIIR’s Research Oracle Virtual Roadshow, or ROVR.tv is different in that it provides a web-based platform which combines investment research and other information sources with live, high quality HD video webcasts of company managers alongside PowerPoint, Excel, or whiteboard presentations.  Users will also be able to take advantage of instant messaging, call transcripts, archiving and indexing, and simultaneous translation, if needed.  Company managers will make their presentations from their local ROVR.tv studio.  Institutional investors situated around the world will be able to access these presentations and interactive Q&A without leaving their desks. 

Certainly, given the current uncertainty with air travel, corporate issuers may find the ability to reach institutional investors via ROVR.tv more convenient and less costly.  In addition, IIIR enables issuers also to acquire investment research coverage from one of five research providers through the Irideus.org intermediated research initiative.  The five research firms participating in Irideus include IIIR, Argus Research, Zacks Investment Research, Copal Partners and Aranca.

IIIR CEO, Shane Smith explains the rationale for building this new hybrid research and virtual roadshow ROVR.tv platform:

“Beyond written research and contact with analysts, face-to-face meetings with senior managers at potential investment targets are an essential element of the buy-side toolkit, and are instrumental in building conviction in an investment idea.  However, time and money being limited, it is impossible for asset managers to follow up on every promising story. Similarly, many attractively-valued growth companies find it difficult to capture buy-side attention, and cannot absorb unlimited costs of mounting roadshows to all international audiences. This is even truer for companies based in emerging markets, which face both heightened travel costs as well as the prospect of losing top people to lengthy absences at the very stage in the firm’s development when the core focus must be running operations.

That is where ROVR comes in. We provide a virtual roadshow environment, where investors can watch and participate in a high-quality, live video presentation involving board directors and key senior managers, moderated by our own expert analyst – who will previously have prepared and circulated a detailed report on the company. Attendees are given ample opportunity to scrutinize the presentation materials and question both company managers and our analyst. Moreover, when booking attendance at an upcoming roadshow, attendees are given the opportunity to set the agenda by suggesting topics for discussion.”

The ROVR.tv service is interesting as it leverages technology to reduce the cost in time and money usually spent by investors to meet with company managers face-to-face.  This is particularly difficult when investing in companies located in emerging markets.   IIIR has planned its first issuer presentations for early next month, with companies located in India presenting to IIIR’s buy-side audience.

Commercially, IIIR plans to charge buy-side users for access to management meetings via the ROVR.tv platform.  However, IIIR management anticipates that banks and broker-dealers will want to sponsor this access for many of their buy-side clients.  Corporate issuers will not be asked to pay to present on ROVR.tv, though they will be able to pay for research coverage from Irideus.org if they choose to.

Certainly, the timing could not be better for the launch of the ROVR.tv service.  The big question remaining is whether IIIR and the Irideus consortium can attract enough interest from corporate issuers who will want to tell their story to the buy-side by presenting through the platform, and enough buy-side investors who would be interested in using the platform to access these managers.  We will have to wait and see if demand for this new service will erupt like IIIR management hopes it does.

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