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  1. Technology
September 11, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Trading in shares of Ing C Olivetti & Co was suspended on the Milan stock exchange on Friday at the company’s request: the price has tumbled more than 10% in the past two weeks on mounting speculation that the heavily indebted company would have to make the second cash call to its shareholders in two years – there is no question that the firm needs money; its cash flow from computers has dried up and its debts are rising, Carlo Barontini, analyst with Banca Commerciale Italiana, advised Reuter in Milan.

That’s what we feared, and when it comes to the impenetrably unique and unforgiving computer industry, it simply isn’t enough – IBM Corp chairman and chief executive Louis Gerstner believes that if you’re a good manager, you should be able to manage anything, one company executive told the Wall Street Journal.

Shareholders and management of Compagnie des Machines Bull SA on Friday approved the plan to cut the French state’s stake in the company and make France Telecom, NEC Corp and Motorola Inc the core industrial shareholders; the French state will reduce its stake to 36.4% and the staff will share a 3.9% stake; in the next round, NEC maintains its stake at 17%; Motorola will increase its stake to 17% from 10%; France Telecom will retain a stake of 17%; Dai-Nippon Printing Co and IPC Corp Ltd each buy stakes of 3.3%; IBM Corp cuts its stake from 1.8% to 1.6%; Bull is expected to be completely privatised some time in 1997, a company spokesman said.

Pacific Telesis Group Inc is to take a whopping $3,300m charge against third quarter figures to cover the cost of an accounting change by its Pacific Bell unit in the newly deregulated telecommunications industry; all the Bells are having to make the same change.

Datrontech Group Plc, distributor of memory upgrades and computer components, has bought Alton, Hampshire-based Peripherique Plc, a distributor of memory upgrades for computers and printers for ú2.4m, ú1.5m upfront, ú750,000 in cash plus 274,928 new shares at 272.8 pence; and a deferred cash payment of up to ú880,000, payable in three tranches, based on Peripherique’s pre-tax return in the period from August 1 to December 31 1995 and in the six month periods to June 30 and December 31 1996; top Peripherique staff will remain on board.

Britain’s first system for private investors to trade shares electronically across the Internet was launched on Friday despite a London Stock Exchange attempt to bar the publication of real-time price information on the service: emulating the 17th-century origins of the Stock Exchange in the coffee houses near London’s Change Alley, Electronic Share Information Ltd launched its new share-dealing system in Cyberia, London’s pioneering cyberspace cafe; in collaboration with Electronic, UK retail broker ShareLink Plc, which in July was acquired by US discount broker Charles Schwab Corp, is providing its share dealing facilities via the World Wide Web site, which can be found at (https://www.esi.co.uk); the firm said the Exchange was reversing an agreement it signed just two months earlier; to trade shares on the ESI/ShareLink site costs ú100 joining fee, in addition to a monthly fee of ú11.75; the system already has 3,000 subscribers in the UK; the pair intends to offer Internet dealing service to investors worldwide within a few years.

The massively parallel machine to be built by Intel Corp under that $45m contract with the US Energy Department will have over 9,000 P6 microprocessors and will be about 10 times as fast as today’s fastest supercomputer and execute over one TeraOPS; it will have 262Gb memory.

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Hewlett-Packard Co has entered a strategic alliance with Leeds, West Yorkshire-based On Demand Information Plc to supply hardware for On Demand’s personal computer-accessed information services: during the initial three-year term, HP Finance will act as equipment broker to On Demand customers in construction, personnel and fund marketing, and pre-load every personal computer shipped in the UK with information about

the On Demand products and services; On Demand will supply Hewlett’s multimedia personal computers as standard, configured with additional graphics board and ISDN board, enabling multimedia files to be retrieved at high speeds via the British Telecommunications Plc ISDN-2 network from the On Demand host; the alliance also includes a future-proofed Exchange Rental Facility, managed by Hewlett Packard, enabling customers to upgrade equipment as and when hardware matures.

Vistec Plc reports that it has received an approach that could lead to an all share offer for the company, at only a small premium to the current share price, which, as the company noted, rose last week.

Seattle, Washington-based Wave Systems Corp said Gruppe Telekom Inc will deploy a new wireless network in Washington state offering low cost, real-time interactive communications to homes that use Wave Systems’s pay-per-use data-metering technology, which should begin operation in spring 1996: the network will use a secure metered distribution system from Wave, which gives access to a library of multimedia CD-ROMs on a pay-per-use basis, and will offer fixed two-way Personal Communications Services, computer chat lines, access to educational software, and games; the network uses the interactive video and data services airwave spectrum recently allotted by the US Federal Communications Commission, which covers the radio spectrum between 218MHz and 219MHz and provides a two-way communications network to enable consumers to transmit data via cellular radio frequency modems attached to consumers’ personal computers, by-passing the need for broadband wireless data pipes, the company said; Gruppe Telekom backers include entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari Corp, who is now a Gruppe director.

MCI Communications Corp and its Mexican financial group partner Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival SA have won the first long-distance telecommunications concession from the Mexican government to compete against current monopoly-holder Telefonos de Mexico SA: Avantel SA, as the joint venture is known, will install its own infrastructure in at least 34 Mexican cities by April 1 1997, extending to 80 cities within a decade, chairman Bert Roberts said, with an investment of at least $1,800m to lay a mostly fibre optic netwo rk; Avantel will provide national and international long-distance telephone service from August 11 1996, the earliest date under Mexican law when other companies can begin competing with Telefonos de Mexico; it aims to garner a 20% share of the $4,500m market, which it expects to be worth around $15,000m by the year 2000; the government will issue further concessions to companies that comply with the requirements it has laid out; companies expected to seek concessions with Mexican partners include AT&T Corp, GTE Corp, Sprint Corp and Motorola Inc.

Ameritech Corp, the Chicago-based Baby Bell local telephone company for north central America, says it will spend more than $4.8m to renovate its facilities in Detroit and move about 600 employees to the plants by the end of first quarter 1996: employees will be moving from facilities in Farmington Hills, Southfield, Redford and Troy, Michigan, bringing the head-count in Detroit to more than 2,800 people; the company said it wants to reduce its leased space by moving employees to company-owned buildings.

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