While making its interim statement, Ferranti International Signal Plc once again took the opportunity to expand on its favourite topic for whenever two or three are gathered together to hear what it has to say these days – the future delights of its proposed Zonephone cordless telephone service. To date this project has cost between UKP7m and UKP8m, and, if granted a licence in January, Ferranti says it will have the service on sale in April or May next year at a retail price of UKP150 to UKP200. Calls on the Zonephone will be charged at call-box rates, and the phone will be tiny enough to slip into a pocket. At present a Mark II model is being developed which will include a pager so that users will be able to be reached and asked to phone home, but Ferranti was not forthcoming on the date of release for this improved service. As for the half-term figures, the company’s pre-tax profit rose 74% to UKP40m on turnover up 66% at UKP503.1m. These swollen results include those for International Signal & Control Group which merged with the company last November. Despite Ferranti’s avowed desire to increase its civil business, (CI No 972), the ratio of defence to civil is still 80:20. The chairman and managing director for the group, Sir Derek Alun-Jones, said it had been hampered in the pursuit of this goal by interest rates, and added that in the civil sphere Ferranti was looking to invest organ-ically rather than through acquisition – with Zonephone the number one priority right now. As regards its defence earnings, the group wants a greater market share of defence orders outside the UK, the US and Italy, and is currently negotiating for work on Saudi Arabian and Malaysian contracts won by British Aerospace Plc, as well as for the European Fighter Aircraft project which would be worth UKP400m to Ferranti. Sir Alun-Jones also stated that should Plessey’s sonar industry come on the market, the group would be interested in bidding for it, subject to Ministry of Defence rules.
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