Another bit of reality

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The Independent Online
THE stockbrokers Henderson Crosthwaite are planning to capitalise on the investment craze for multimedia by bringing another virtual reality company, Superscape, to the stock market next month.

One of the people behind Superscape is Alan Wood, a founding investor in Micro Focus, one of the stock market's best performing hi-tech shares of the past 10 years. Superscape will follow Division and Virtuality, two other virtual reality companies that were successfully floated on the London stock market in the last year.

Based near Newbury, Berkshire, Superscape was founded by Ian Andrew, who owns 56 per cent of the company, in the early 1980s as a computer games developer.

Sales are still below pounds 1m this year, and the company continues to make losses. Despite this current trading position, however, Henderson Crosthwaite hopes to value it at up to pounds 20m.

Mr Andrew said Superscape was looking to raise between pounds 2.5m and pounds 4m to set up a sales and marketing office in California's Silicon Valley, and to fund further product development.

The company has only just begun selling its virtual reality system, and expects sales and profits to increase rapidly over the next few years.

Superscape's links with Micro Focus, one of the few British computer companies to find success in America, go beyond the fact that Mr Wood is a shareholder and non-executive director.

Martin Hornby, the chairman, was responsible for floating Micro Focus when he headed the corporate finance department of the brokers Laurence Prust.

Bob Lowe, Superscape's deputy chief executive who will be responsible for heading the company's US operation, was also in charge of the Micro Focus sales operation in northern Europe.