Ottawa’s Martello Technologies goes public with an eye for acquisitions

Martello
Martello Technologies opens the TSX Venture Exchange on Wed., Sept. 12. Photo provided.

Martello Technologies rang in its public listing at the TSX Venture Exchange on Wednesday to a roar of applause, but with more acquisitions already in the pipeline, the Ottawa-based firm was looking to get back to business before the confetti could even be swept off the floor.

Shares of Martello, which now trades under the symbol MTLO, opened at $0.50 on Wednesday morning, giving the firm a valuation around $85.9 million. The communications services firm completed a reverse takeover of a Vancouver-based shell company to achieve its listing on the TSX Venture Exchange.

Speaking to OBJ shortly after the launch, Martello CEO John Proctor said ringing the market’s opening bell was a “mixture of nerves and excitement” as the company begins its public journey.

Proctor says the public capital will go towards internal research and development on new technologies, in addition to acquisitions of “niche” companies with products that can quickly fill a market need.

Market-driven technology

Martello expanded its portfolio of communication network services by merging with Montreal’s Elfiq Networks earlier this year. Proctor says the company already has another acquisition lined up that he expects to close by the end of 2018.

Martello’s solutions enable enterprise customers to manage and troubleshoot communications systems handling high network traffic. Proctor mentions emerging sectors such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles and video streaming as markets with high bandwidth demand that the firm will target with new products.

Founded in 2009 and a member of the Wesley Clover portfolio, Martello has garnered a laundry list of large clients. Proctor says having the ear of these customers differentiates Martello from a startup going public with an unproven idea.

“You’re not creating speculative technology, you’re really creating market-driven technology, and that’s really where one of our fortes is,” he says. “We’re a robust business already.”

In a blog post, CIBC World Markets analysts Amy Dyck and Todd Coupland wrote that they were optimistic about Martello’s potential. The authors point to Martello’s strategic partnership with Kanata neighbour Mitel in tackling the cloud communications market and a building momentum against major competitors in the space as evidence Martello could capitalize on its public listing.

“While it is small today, its opportunities are quite the opposite,” they write.

Open to scrutiny

Proctor says he’s not phased by the pressures of the public markets, which will give customers and analysts their first look at the firm’s books. He says Martello will use that exposure to its advantage, proving to potential customers that there are no skeletons in the closet.

“By going public, and by being open, you allow yourself to have that degree of scrutiny that creates trust,” he says.

"By going public, and by being open, you allow yourself to have that degree of scrutiny that creates trust."

Martello’s listing is the first time a tech firm in Ottawa has gone public since Shopify in 2015. For Proctor, the public market move isn’t just about Martello – it’s about drawing the attention of young talent and big companies to Ottawa.

He says he wants Martello to become an “anchor” company in the region’s tech sector, where companies come to partner on new R&D projects and where skilled talent can build a career.

“As we grow and our brand becomes more visible, we get more young people interested in working for us … I think that’s a great story for the Ottawa tech community.”

Martello closed its first day of trading at $0.44, down slightly from its opening.