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Video Networks Ltd, the major UK video-on-demand and interactive television network company, is preparing for flotation. Established in 1992 by Simon Hochhauser, one-time head of J Rothschild’s technology investment arm, Welwyn Garden City-based Video Networks has appointed Ian Irvine as chairman. He is a former chairman of Reed International and current chairman of Capital Radio. His expertise and contacts are seen as key for a company looking to raise about 100m pounds in a private placement, probably during 1998. Irvine has taken an unspecified stake in the the company, joining Kingston Communications Ltd, the Hull-based telecoms company with which Video Networks has built up a range of local video and interactive TV services. Other shareholders include the founding members, Botts & Co Ltd, and high-profile individuals like Lord Owen, former UK foreign secretary, Sir David Alliance of Coats Viyella Plc and Switzerland-based entrepreneur Baron Benitinck. Simon Hochhauser, chief executive, says: We’re looking to raise well over 100m pounds in a private placement with a 15m pounds national product launch. Using set-top boxes and asymmetrical digital subscriber line technology (ADSL), which enables digital video signals to be transmitted over copper twisted pair telephone lines, Video Networks provides a variety of services, ranging from video-on- demand through to news coverage, classified advertising, CD-ROM, banking and retail services – with the last coming from big- hitters like Lloyds, Boots, Tesco and Unilever. Lloyds offers about 15 products through our service, and we provide links to their telephone banking services as well as set-top displays on pensions, loans, mortgages, stocks and shares and personal accounts, says Hochhauser. The company’s national launch will be through cable and a British Telecommunications’ ADSL network, which the company has been developing, building up its broadband capabilities. US speculation that satellite technology will overtake ADSL are unfounded, according to Hochhauser. He says: We would use satellite if we could , but we need a minimum 2 Megabits which is a limitation for satellite operations. He believes the main developments will be over physical wire for a good ten years.

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