February 23, 2007 / 4:06 PM / 12 years ago

French sex Web site seeks to charm investors

PARIS (Reuters) - A French Web site offering soft porn and adult toys now wants to sell sex to investors in what would be France’s first porn-industry stock market listing.

DreamNex says it is the leading operator of e-commerce dedicated to the “charm” industry in the land of ooh-la-la.

By issuing shares in Paris, it hopes to extend its “soft and playful” product line to an international audience.

“A change in mentalities, the acceptance of sex toys and the arrival of broadband Internet have boosted our growth,” Chief Executive Patrice Macar said in a statement on Friday.

In an application to the stock market regulator AMF, the company described itself as the market leader in “high-class, sober and good-quality products and entertainment”.

Among the items for sale alongside porn videos on the company’s www.sexyavenue.com Web site are the Vibro Flower Power, the Love Muscle Massager and Kamasutra playing cards.

Created in 1999, DreamNex said it made 5 million euros (3.4 million pounds) in operating profit last year on sales of 34 million euros. The results include a 960,000 euro charge for past accounting errors. It is also at odds with taxmen over a recent audit.

In its 172-page application, DreamNex sought to demonstrate that despite its image as a nation of lovers, France has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to pleasure-boosting gadgets.

Only 20 percent of French women own a vibrator compared with almost 50 percent in the United States, the company told regulators, citing the 2004 Durex Global Sex Survey.

That means more potential growth in profits, it said.

The firm said it hoped to expand into dating services too.

Seduction is no guarantee of sex appeal to investors, however.

Europe’s biggest sex shop operator, Germany’s Beata Uhse, which floated in 1999 at over 13 euros a share, has seen its shares fall 25 percent in the past year to 4.75 euros. It issued a profit warning after its warehouse became flooded.

In 2002, Spanish pornography firm Private Media dropped plans to issue shares in Frankfurt when institutional investors resisted the temptation of stock in the company.

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