The company expanded globally in the 1960s and 1970s, opening offices in New York, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. It floated successfully in 1981 and, after a failed merger attempt with Morgan Grenfell, was bought by British & Commonwealth in 1986 for pounds 656m. B&C was in effect controlled by the Cayzer family who employed John Gunn - who had previously headed Exco - to run it.
Mr Gunn saw Exco as powering B&C's expansion. In a complicated deal a City consortium bought B&C from the Cayzers. In 1990, it fell apart when a financial black hole was discovered at another B&C acquisition, Atlantic Computers.
B&C went into administration and Exco became a bid target. But the administrators held out. Trading performance improved as the recession lifted, and the administrators are now keen to allow Exco to return as a independent listed company.
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