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April 2, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

Following the directors of DDT Plc’s recommendation that the UKP7.8m share exchange offer for the company from Vistec Group Plc should be accepted (CI No 1,139), Apricot Computers Plc has moved in with a counter offer which values the company at UKP8m. Apricot is offering 19 of its own shares for every 10 DDT, which it says is worth 123.5 pence a share, with a cash alternative of 115 pence for each DDT share should the deal be completed. The offer is being handled for Apricot by Barclays de Zoete Wedd Ltd. At present Apricot owns 35% of DDT’s equity – 30% of that is held by Daleigh Ltd, an associate of Apricot, and 5% is held directly by Apricot. If the offer is accepted Apricot would have to issue 12.3m new shares representing 16% of the enlarged share capital. Apricot chose to move now rather than wait to bid for the enlarged Vistec Group because it is not interested in the added distribution business Vistec could offer it, preferring to acquire DDT and match it with the Sigmex maintenance business which came as part of the Sigmex International Plc bought by Apricot last May. Apricot currently claims to have 10% of the UK micro maintenance market, as its Computer Services section improved its turnover by 60% over the last financial year. The acquisition of DDT would consequently place it in a strong position to corner a greater share of the multi-vendor maintenance market. For the year to March 1988 Apricot achieved pre-tax profits of UKP8.2m on a turnover of UKP85.1m, but expects its profits to have dropped below that figure this year largely because of the downturn in the financial markets which affected the company’s business in financial software. Like other companies with a stake in financial software, Apricot is clearly about to pursue a strategy of hedging its bets by expanding its other sectors, and the bid for DDT can be seen in this light. Meanwhile, both Vistec and DDT said it was too early to comment on the situation although DDT is alleged to still be backing Vistec’s offer and may try to persuade it to increase its bid and add a cash alternative.

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