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January 26, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Gemplus SA, the French company which is the world’s leading manufacturer of Smart cards is planning a public offering of its shares on Nasdaq later this year, potentially followed by a European listing. The company hopes that a Nasdaq listing will raise its profile in the all important US market, while the funds raised are to be channeled into increasing manufacturing capacity. Gemplus grew by a ferocious 55% in 1996, and revenues were up by 30% to $574m in 1997, creating huge demands on its working capital. But the company is likely to wait until after its historically weak first quarter results before proceeding, beyond which date, market conditions will dictate timing. Smart cards, plastic cards containing a micro chip, are currently used widely in mobile phones (SIM cards) and set top boxes, with new applications opening up all the time. The smartcard market is predicted by some analysts to reach over $7bn by the year 2000, which would require growth in demand of around 60% per annum. Schlumberger Ltd and Motorola Inc are the other two major players in this sector and Schlumberger’s fourth quarter results, out last week, revealed strong card demand while Motorola’s figures were less conclusive.

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