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June 25, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:35pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Hand-held terminal maker WPI Inc is buying Husky Computers Ltd from Peek PLC for $16m in cash and is taking over $5m of the company’s debt. The sale of the Coventry, UK, portable computer manufacturer is a further retrenchment by Peek, whose chairman Ken Maud quit last month because he favored a more aggressive approach in developing markets. Husky, whose rugged personal computers have been selling well in the US, is a logical acquisition by WPI as the Manchester, New Hampshire company makes DOS-based computers for applications such a meter readings, rental car check-ins and factory automation. Husky made its name with tough portables for outdoor applications and, since its launch in 1981, the computer has built a worldwide market. But the sale will focus attention on the performance of Peek Holdings. With the departure of a dynamic chairman and the sale of a leading subsidiary, the company is left with its major activity of traffic management and measurement systems. The company says proceeds of the Husky sale will be used to reduce debts and allow it to invest further in its core business. Peek chief executive Allen Standley said Husky was acquired in 1987 when the group was developing broadly. It has always been a good performer and consistently profitable but its expansion has taken it out of the mainstream of the group, he said. Last year, Peek denied reports that it was planning to sell Husky to Psion Plc. Recent Peek results have been unspectacular and a company which once gobbled up other firms at a rapid rate is now better known as a seller, though it now has money in the bank for further acquisitions. Last year pre-tax profits rose 4% to $21 on revenue that climbed by 13% to $271. Husky had sales of $34m in 1996 and WPI said it expected its new acquisition to be a positive contributor to earnings growth. WPI Group recorded net profits of $2.5m on sales of $47.5m last year. Last year it moved into the UK, buying Oyster Terminal Ltd, a Gwent maker of hand-help programmable terminals.

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