Calluna goes to market: Broker's third technology flotation aims for valuation of pounds 50m

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The Independent Online
JAMES WARHURST, the Manchester stockbroker who brought the technology hot stocks Tadpole and Division Group to the stock market, is hoping to achieve a treble.

Mr Warhurst is backing Calluna, the Glenrothes-based computer disk-drive maker, for an autumn flotation that is expected to value it at pounds 50m.

The placing, sponsored by Albert E Sharp, the broker, is expected to raise about pounds 10m for the company's expansion.

Calluna was founded three years ago by Norman White, the former technical director of Rodime, the troubled disk-drive maker, to develop a new generation of small but high-capacity drives for portable computers.

Since then the company has pioneered the development of 1.8 inch drives, each with a storage capacity of up to 170 megabytes. The drives are made to a common industry standard format, PCMCIA, which has been adopted by most notebook and palm-sized computer makers.

Calluna has yet to make a profit because of ongoing development costs. In the year to March, it incurred a pounds 2.1m loss on a pounds 300,000 turnover, up from a pounds 1.4m loss on nil turnover in the previous 18 months.

Some industry experts suggest demand for the new disks will rise sharply and could be worth about pounds 1bn by 1997.

Calluna's shareholders include Scottish Enterprise, the regional aid body, which owns 10 per cent and Kanematsu, the Japanese group, with 3 per cent. The flotation is expected to generate keen interest from the City.

Tadpole, the portable workstation maker, and Division, the virtual reality group, were groomed by Mr Warhurst when he was with the Manchester broker, Henry Cooke Lumsden. He has since moved to Sharp.

Both companies' shares have soared since their debut. Tadpole, introduced at 65p in November 1992, closed last week at 384p. Division, launched at 40p in May 1993, was at 133p.