Although still holding back on the precise terms of the deal, Technology For Business Plc managing director Paul Bion has elaborated on plans for the LSI Computers arm of CPU Computer Group Plc which he agreed to acquire at the end of last week (CI No 616). LSI will be kept running as a going concern, with the 80286 based box planned for launch at the Which Computer? Show this month, going ahead. What Bion has effectively done is to double the potential market for the Technology for Business 80386 box – launched by its Rair Ltd unit last autumn – by promising to insert an ARCnet card into the back of it, and by implementing the LSI Elsie variant of Concurrent DOS onto it. This will make it fully compatible, and networkable, with LSI’s Octopus micros, thus greatly adding to the possibilities at the upper end of the LSI Octopus range, offering the 386 machine not only as an upgrade but as a server for a large local network of Octopus units. With access to two separate user bases for the Rair 386 machine, Bion now leaves himself with a Sperry-Burroughs problem – though on a much smaller scale – and a choice will eventually have to be made as to which line to drop, Octopus or Rair. Although having user bases of roughly similar sizes, Rair makes 50% of its sales overseas, which LSI cannot claim to do, and that must increase the value of the Rair base; and as Rair is the acquisitor anyway, it seems likeliest that Octopus will be the loser in the long run. Bion, however, doesn’t envisage much of a problem maintaining both lines and any moves to rationalise will not be taken for a few years yet. In the meantime he intends to develop both lines using the Rair 386 box as the point of convergence at the top. There are still three and a half weeks left before the contract need be completed, but Bion anticipates making public the terms of the deal well before then.
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