The shares of Wordplex Information Systems Plc reached 170 pence recently, up from their start of the year price of 65p. A large part of the rise was due to City rumours that Dr Robb Wilmot, the former ICL managing director and founder of European Silicon Structures, was about to take an executive position with the word processing company. There’s rarely smoke without fire as they say and on Friday Wordplex announced that it is in negotiations with Octagon Industries Ltd, the management consultancy arm of venture capitalists Octagon Investment Management Ltd on whose board Wilmot sits, with a view to raising new equity capital and strengthening senior management. However, it is Octagon’s managing director Dr Geoff Bristow who is coming on board the Wordplex ship, not Wilmot. Bristow has already been working with Wordplex for some time on a new corporate strategy and is now replacing John Cross as chief executive. Among the options he is believed to have considered are ending in-house manufacture and moving the company from its glasshouse-like headquarters in Slough where the manufacturing takes place (CI No 560). In a statement put out through Hill Samuel and Co, Wordplex says that despite recent improvements in its trading performance as a result of the recovery plan put into operation by Cross on his appointment last May, gearing has risen to an unacceptable level and funds are needed. The shares reacted badly to the news down 11p to 143p in a rising market but as one City broker said Friday, Octagon are no fools, they must think Wordplex has a future. Even with the big rise in its price in 1987, at 143p Wordplex is valued at just UKP15m.
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