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August 15, 1988

BRITISH & COMMONWEALTH LIKELY TO SEEK BUYER FOR ATLANTIC NETWORK SYSTEMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Atlantic Computers Plc is reviewing the performance and salience to its mainstream business of its fledgling subsidiary Atlantic Network Systems unit with a view to selling the off-shoot. The data communications equipment division, originally called Lion Systems, was bought by the Atlantic Group four years ago but despite a drastic management reshuffle and streamlining of products, financial performance continues to be poor. In Atlantic’s interim results for the six months to June 30, all divisions performed satisfactorily except Networks, which made losses with a slower than expected recovery, despite sales increasing by 60% over the equivalent period of the previous year. A spokesman for British & Commonwealth Holdings Plc, which expects to take control of Atlantic following its recommended bid for the computer leasing company, said that Atlantic Network Systems does not form part of our strategy and does not sit easy with the rest of the group. He added that the subsidiary is under review alongside NPL, the power supplies group which, despite being profitable, also does not slot into British & Commonwealth’s idea of what the Atlantic division of its portfolio should look like. Denis Casey, corporate development manager for Atlantic would not comment on any plans to sell off the Networks business beyond stating that the company forms a logical part of Atlantic, which is a computer services group but after the takeover it will be a case of Atlantic proposes, British & Commonwealth disposes. Atlantic Network Systems’ product range includes a packet switch, network management systems and high speed modems. The company recently introduced a flex leasing option, modelled on the Flexlease option offered by its parent to mainframe customers – but there is no particular reason why offering lease finance on telecommunications equipment need be allied to a business that actually manufactures the equipment. Who might buy? British & Commonwealth could try ringing any of the Bells, and Dowty Group Plc might consider the business a suitable dowry for the Case Group Plc acquisition it hopes to complete shortly. Apropos the Atlantic proposes, BriCom disposes, it had been thought that Atlantic management would remain in place to run the company as a division of British & Commonwealth, but chairman John Gillum and chief executive John Tompkins have agreed a settlement with Atlantic, under which the pair will wave bye-bye to the firm with UKP430,000 being paid into Tomkins’ Bathurst Resources consultancy company, and Gillum getting a UKP54,000 golden handshake.

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