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Extel Group Plc is battening the hatches, jettisoning surplus ballast, and preparing to repel boarders led by Cap’n Bob Maxwell, and one of the major pieces of ballast to go is the Digital Microsystems Ltd networked microcomputer business. Extel has found a willing buyer in the shape of Apricot Computers Plc, which has agreed in principle to pay UKP1m cash on April 1 with another UKP1m on January 1, 1988 for the company, which did UKP283,000 pre-tax on UKP13.2m in the year to March 31. Apricot intends to continue to support the HiNet architecture that networks MS-DOS or CP/M workstations for the present, describing it as part of its systems strategy. It brings Apricot’s user base up to 8,000, and the news was greeted enthusiastically by the market, which marked Apricot shares up to 102 pence yesterday from 82 the day before. The shares soon boiled over and slipped back to 92. Attractions for Apricot include the fact that British Telecom is Digital Microsystems’ biggest customer, OEM and distributor, and has sold international exchange management systems to its siblings in Canada and Zimbabwe. Singapore’s directory inquiries system also runs on a HiNet system. Some 20% of business is overseas, but a large proportion is with the UK public sector, including the Department of Health & Social Security and UK Customs & Excise. It has about 4,000 HiNet systems, 30,000 stations, in worldwide (CI No 577).

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