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  1. Technology
October 26, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Despite the earlier denials (CI No 2,685) in the wake of dismal share price performance, insurance broker C E Heath Plc is said to be close to a decision to release hidden value by floating its Heath Computer Services subsidiary, where the main constituents are the payroll and personnel software specialist Peterborough Software and the Datasure insurance software business.

As an envoi to all its planned investments and alliances, Cirrus Logic Inc drops broad hints that there is yet another alliance cooking that it will announce soon: Digital Equipment Corp has been looking for a partner for its Hudson, New Hampshire Alpha RISC wafer fab for a year or so now – is Cirrus going to help it out of a hole?

The European Commission is exercising the impertinent powers claimed for it by member states and has opened an investigation of the proposed acquisition of Conner Peripherals Inc by Seagate Technology Inc: competitors have 10 days to comment on the transaction and the Commission has four weeks to decide whether the merger could harm competition; if it finds serious doubts about the transaction, it must launch a deeper, four-month probe; how many vastly overpaid man-hours is it going to take to reach a conclusion that one specialist in the field could arrive at after five minutes of reflection?

The remnants of Cray Computer Corp and the ashes of Seymour Cray’s dream, are scheduled to go under the hammer today: money raised from the auction will be paid to debtors in Cray Computer’s bankruptcy; the remains of the company include personal computers, printers and manufacturing equipment – and there is also a pallet stacked with hundreds of modules that consist of layers of boards of Gallium Arsenide chips; Seymour is no stranger to ashes, because, as a keen yachtsman, they say he builds a new new boat every season and ceremoniously burns it at the end of the summer.

NEC Corp and Bell Communications Research plan to develop a new public wireless communications system for the US called PACS, for personal access communications system, aimed at business and personal use: they hav a letter of authorisation agreeing to work together on a system in which Bellcore would develop custom software to accompany NEC-produced infrastructure equipment.

US companies are beginning to panic that Quebec will vote for independence in the referendum on Monday, and the contingency plans that have been laid make such a separation look dire, not only for Canada’s French-speaking province, but for the whole of Canada and for the North American Free Trade Agreement: Amdahl Corp says it remains committed to pursuing acquisition of DMR Group Inc of Montreal but acknowledges that disruption very much could be a problem for future operations, if it impedes the company’s ability to shift employees between Quebec and other parts of North America; Matrox Graphics Inc, a Montreal maker of personal computer video and graphics components for the likes of Compaq Computer Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Digital Equipment Corp, told the Wall Street Journal it will cancel a $55m expansion project and instead build new facilities outside Quebec, and companies worry that Quebec would have to have its own currency, which would likely be devalued, reducing the value of assets in the province, although Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau insists that Quebec could and would continue to use the Canadian dollar after independence, although depositors are asking the banks if they should shift funds to US dollars or move accounts to other provinces.

Commenting on its third quarter figures (CI No 2,778) Amdahl Corp says its three emerging businesses accounted for 15% of sales in the quarter, up from 9% in the same period a year ago, with good gains reported in sales of open systems products and in consulting services from the Business Solutions Group; the third new business, applications development software, introduced Huron ObjectStar 3.0, adding support for Windows and Windows NT, and sales here were below expectations because customers waited for the new release; Amdahl is currently among the mainframe disk drive failures, and the data storage arm continued to hurt both revenues and earnings in the quarter – sales were significantly lower than in the third quarter a year ago and declined from already depressed levels in this year’s second quarter.

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They can’t all be right – where Dataquest went for 30m copies of Windows95 sold by the end of the year, and International Data Corp 20m, Inteco Corp, Norwalk, Connecticut is going for 15m – 9m pre-loaded on new computers, 6m retail.

Xerox Corp and the Toshiba Advanced Systems Co Ltd unit of Toshiba Corp, said they had agreed to promote Xerox’s presence in the Japanese software market with the Xerox XSoft business unit granting Toshiba Advanced rights to distribute the InContext publishing program that runs on Windows-based personal computers; Toshiba will also create a localised version of the software for Japanese customers: they said the partnership furthers the relationship with Toshiba announced in February (CI No 2,620) to market XSoft products in Japan; XSoft InContext software is designed to enable users to create, edit and navigate extremely large, complex documents without having to learn Standardised Generalised Mark-up Language, SGML; initial markets for the product include the automotive, manufacturing, utilities, and semiconductor industries; pricing and availability for the Japanese version have not yet been announced.

Austria has put on hold plans for a second Groupe Speciale Mobile private mobile phone network following the collapse earlier this month of the coalition government of Social Democrats and conservative People’s Party which had planned to award the licence by the end of this year, enabling the network to become operational by July 1996: it looks unlikely that there will be a special parliamentary sitting to pass the legislation, but expert talks are being called for to evaluate bids from six international consortia that have submitted bids for the licence; United Telecom Austria, which includes AirTouch Communications Inc, Austrian oil and chemicals group OMV, Bank Austria and Raiffeisen Zentralbank and nine regional utilities has been tipped as favourite; analysts said the hold-up would cost the government dear, casting doubt on a $397m licence charge destined for the 1996 budget and estimated the cost of the delay at around $6m daily; the analysts said Austria’s PTT would be the only winner as the decision to postpone the award of the second licence should give the PTT around six months to gain market share for its own A1 network.

Sherpa Corp, San Jose, California, has integrated its data management system with the manufacturing applications Oracle Corp and SAP AG.

Ottawa-based Teleglobe Inc said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Telecom Ltd, South Korea’s state telecommunications authority, to develop and establish telecommunication services and co-operate in securing international telecommunications facilities: the two companies will also share information regarding telecommunications developments, business opportunities and results in technical and international telecommunications marketing, it said.

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