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July 2, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

The counter-bid for Wordplex Information Systems Plc from Oslo minimaker Norsk Data A/S, flagged here two weeks ago (CI No 707), duly arrived yesterday – and won the instant recommendation of the Wordplex board, which had previously recommended the 143 pence a share – 130 pence cash – offer from Apricot Computers Plc. Norsk is offering 155 pence a share cash, valuing Wordplex at UKP15.9m – it will also have to take some UKP14m of Wordplex debt onto its books, and there is the alternative of one new Norsk Class B share for every 13.225 Wordplex for all or part of their holding. Apricot was still considering its position last night but is thought unlikely to enter a bid battle with Norsk. The Norwegian minimaker says it wants Wordplex mainly because of the complementary nature of the two companies’ products: Norsk Data has a general office automation offering but has nothing in what it terms the power typing – typing pool – area. It adds that both companies sell to similar types of customers. Although the maintenance arm of Wordplex was a strong attraction for Apricot, Norsk Data says that this was less important than the product line and customer base. The addition of Wordplex’s UKP45m or so annual sales – about half in the UK – and some 200 em-ployees – will double Norsk’s revenue and staff in the UK, as well as strengthening its position in several continental markets. If the offer proves successful Norsk intends to continue the product line and promote it in other countries, especially Scandinavia, where Wordplex has done significant business with Televerket – the Swedish PTT. The company also intends to develop the top-end Wordplex 8000 range by integrating it with its own office system, and will add database and communications facilities; the 8000 runs Unix as an option. Norsk has no firm plans yet for rationalisation, and will leave Wordplex manufacturing undisturbed for the present. It affirms that the international organisation needs attention, and offices will be closed or integrated with existing Norsk bases. Norsk clearly needed a UK acquisition to match its takeover of Dietz Computer Systeme in West Germany five years ago, and given the Norwegian’s strength in the UK printing and publishing sector, Wordplex looks a suitable match.

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