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November 22, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Cannon Street Investments Plc is to give Betacom Plc, which specialises in telephone disribution, a full stock market listing, via an offer of sale of 20.2m ordinary shares at 82p per share, valuing the company at UKP25.4m. With a 1988 earnings per share forecast of 7.43p, the price-earnings ratio of 11 times is pitched against National Telecommunications Plc’s price in July, 1988 (CI No 967). Some 13.2m of the shares on offer, 65%, are being offered to Cannon Street shareholders on a one-for-six basis, and the stake held by Cannon Street itself will fall to 30% of the issued share capital; of the 7m remaining shares, approximately 10% will be subject to preferential application by Betacom employees, so if the issue generates more than a modicum of interest, the shares offered to the general public are likely to have something of a scarcity value. Enfield, North London based Betacom is forecasting pre-tax profits for the year to December 31 1988 of UKP2.5m, on turnover of UKP17.5m, against a figure of UKP2.3m on turnover of UKP13.4m for the 13 months to December 1987. The company says it will recommend a net dividend of 2.6p per share for the year. Cannon Street, which put UKP8m into Betacom in October, claims it would have retained a larger stake, but was prevented from doing so by the Stock Exchange because of its ownership of two other telecommunications companies, Comtell and Private Mobile Rentals. Bought by Cannon Street in January 1987, Betacom specialises in consumer telecommunications, but will attempt to broaden its product portfolio in coming years: Dennis Baylin, chairman and chief executive, pledges a strategic move into answering machines, small PABX systems, cordless phones, and facsimile, the one area in which the company will not manufacture its own products. It will release its first fax machine, manufactured by Murata, early in the New Year, and has agreed a maintenance contract with service company Mastercare – the company is hopeful for a 10% to 15% share of the highly competitive UK fax market in three years. In an attempt to expand further into continental Europe, Betacom is to set up operations in the Netherlands – where it wants a commercial base by the end of 1989 – and Spain. Betacom, which employs 78, claims to be the second largest UK telephone supplier, with 17% market share, up from 8% in 1986. The issue has been underwritten by McCaughan Dyson Capel Cure (UK) Ltd, and applications for a minimum of 200 shares, costing just UKP164, must be received by 10.00am on Thursday, December 1 – dealings are expected to start on December 9.

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