Orca Interactive, a provider of middleware for internet protocol television, is to become a separately listed company. The subsidiary of the Israeli Emblaze group has raised £14 million from institutional investors, which will give it an initial market capitalisation of around £35 million.

Orca develops and licenses proprietary middleware to enable service providers to deliver internet protocol television or IPTV services over broadband telephone networks.

Orca was an early entrant to this market and has established itself as one of the leading developers of IPTV middleware solutions. The company’s software enables multicasting of television channels over data networks and the provision of video on demand services. The Orca RiGHTv platform is designed with an open architecture and can be integrated with video servers and set-top boxes from different suppliers.

Orca Interactive Limited will be listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange as “ORCA”. Emblaze, which is listed on the main London market, has not sold any shares and retains approximately 60% of Orca.

“Orca’s entry into the IPTV market as long as four years ago was visionary and has now positioned it as the leading independent software company in this market,” said Eli Reifman, chief executive of Emblaze. “The fact that we have not sold any shares in Orca underlines our long term commitment and confidence in its future.”

Commenting on the placing, Haggai Barrel, Orca’s chief executive said: “The IPTV market is evolving rapidly. Middleware sits at the heart of the IPTV value chain and Orca is ideally positioned to benefit from anticipated growth.”

Although the IPTV market is currently at an early stage of development, it is expected to grow rapidly in the future as incumbent telecommunications providers begin to offer video services as part of a ‘triple play’ of voice, video and data.

According to research by Multimedia Research Group, the number of global IPTV subscribers is expected to grow from 0.7 million in 2003 to approximately 15.6 million in 2007. This growth is expected by MRG to be led by the service providers in the Asia Pacific and European regions where broadband telephone networks are most widely deployed.