A company to watch out for when it comes to market in a few months’ time is management buy-out Langton Ltd: it has all the ingredients of a high-growth, high-tech super-stock – a low cost base, specialised consultancy with a quality customer base of electronics majors and City houses, with a focus on the fast growing data and telecommunications sector. Langton Ltd is a spin-out from Langton Information Systems Ltd, a company founded in 1974 by Michael Norton, which specialised in networking and communications hardware, software and services. Langton Ltd was set by the parent company as a consultancy service for its customers, but its own quick growth, combined with a desire for product independence – necessary if it is to be seen as an objective advisor – precipitated its departure from the rest of the Langton group, with AGB Plc – the Audits of Great Britain market research and television ratings firm – taking a majority stake. However one month ago, a private investor – a chartered accountant who has now become financial director – bought out part of AGB’s stake and staff purchased the rest, leaving AGB with a holding of less than 20%. Langton Ltd is now no longer a subsidiary but an associated company of AGB, and the finance director owns 30%, and other members of staff the remaining 50%. Langton is well regarded among large suppliers and users including the electronics majors, Government and City financial institutions, as a highly specialised consultancy in a number of areas related to telecommunications, networking and marketing with a reputation rivalling those of Logica and CAP. It has recently taken over the management of the telecommunications network of US investment bank Shearson Lehman Brothers (owned by American Express), and will manage the networking of the new Broadgate Centre in the City of London. Langton also has overall managerial responsibility for the huge Vanguard project recently launched by the UK Department of Trade & Industry. Vanguard is a series of research and development projects into value-added data network applications and participants include PA International’s Pactel, Coopers & Lybrand, Logica and CAP. The other string to Langton’s bow is its market research services to the electronics industry. Again, its reputation here is excellent and customers are usually the electronics majors and telecommunications companies. The expertise accrued in this field is being put to good use with the development of an expert system for specialist marketing. The product, called Exmar, will eventually form the basis of a marketing consultancy service which Norton believes will grow quickly. The company is not yet giving out precise information on recent financial performance but Michael Norton claims a growth rate of 40% a year since 1984, and says Langton is highly profitable. Arthur Young is advising the company.
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