Just a couple of weeks after agreeing to invest UKP150m in its joint medical systems venture with Philips and UKP8m on a 30% stake in Dutch weighing machine firm Berkel, GEC has decided to have another crack at the viewdata systems market, pioneered by British Telecom on GEC’s hardware. GEC’s chosen vehicle is Unlisted Securities Market counter Micro Scope Plc, Maidenhead, Berkshire, for which it has agreed to spend some more loose change from its cash mountain – UKP16m, 150 pence a share, against a market price of 93p before the agreed offer. GEC’s 4000 series computers were the original platform for British Telecom’s viewdata experiments and are still the basis of the Prestel service, but after export successes for the system in West Germany, Austria, Holland and Hong Kong, GEC’s effort lost momentum when the German Bundespost awarded to IBM the contract to take the pilot on to a full public system. Micro Scope manufactures viewdata and data communications equipment and in the year to October 31 1986, made UKP941,000 pre-tax on turnover of UKP4.1m. According to GEC, Micro Scope offers it an innovative pro-duct range, and in return will get research resources, finance and distribution. Micro Scope currently sells in 15 countries and its viewdata equipment has been installed by national PTTs in Belgium, Denmark and Finland. Its acquisition is, however, unlikely to relieve the pressure on Lord Weinstock and his board to make a really big purchase in the near future.
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