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  1. Technology
April 5, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

The background to the European launch of Xios the shape of things to come Systems Corp late last month (CI No 897) involves a complex merging of companies, research projects, customer bases and products, superficially comprehensible only to high calibre corporate strategists. Essentially, the new company has been created by merging the Ottawa-based Kinburn Technology Corp’s office information systems subsidiary, Xios Systems Corp, with word processing systems specialist AES Data Inc, acquired by Kinburn for $16m last September. The Hammersmith-based Xios Systems Corp will use AES Data’s existing group of European subsidiaries and distributors to market its Unix-based office information management systems software product, Renaissance, although AES Data no longer exists in its own right, or indeed by name. Renaissance was developed over three years at a cost of $5m by Xios Research, a team of scientists and engineers within another Kinburn Group affiliate, SHL Systemhouse Inc, based in Canada. Renaissance is described by the company as a powerful set of tools to run word processing, data processing or personal computing applications: the company is keen to stress however, that Renaissance is merely part of a broader offering. Under the banner of doing more with more, the company aims to provide mid-to high-end customers with special-ist facilities management and integration advice and, in these circumstances, will exploit Renaissance’s Unix-based portability to allow existing separate office automation systems within a company to communicate with each other. According to Xios chairman and chief executive Ray Hession, this Renaissance-based consultancy package will place the company in a unique niche between product companies and custom systems integrators. Tried and tested hardware to this point includes any Convergent Technologies machine, the NCR Tower, Hewlett-Packard minis and Altos micros, and a range of other Unix machines. Renaissance also supports Informix and Oracle data-bases. Hammersmith AES customers may find comfort in the discovery that Renaissance is a fully compatible upgrade for Aesos, the office automation package released by AES last year, which will continue to be available under the Xios 7600 name. Xios Systems anticipates that Europe will provide 50% of its total revenue, and is basing its European headquarters in Hammersmith: within the European market, the UK is expected to account for some 40% of the company’s revenue. The full capacity of Renaissance will be available over the next few months in the UK, and by next year in Europe. Prices have not been formally revealed, but an entry level system is expected to sell for between UKP50,000 and UKP100,000 or so. And just who is Kinburn Corp? It is an Ottawa-based unquoted conglomerate whose two principal interests are its 50.5% shareholding in quoted SHL Systemhouse Inc of Ottawa, and Paperboard Industries Corp, a paper and packaging company in Toronto. But its prospects are such that BCE Inc, the former Bell Canada Enterprises, is handing over control of its Computer Innovations microcomputer retailing chain to Kinburn, and has agreed to pump over $200m into the company with options to take its stake up to 49% (CI No 898). Annual turnover at SHL Systemhouse Inc is running at over $150m.

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