Cellphone newcomer signs up Orange

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European Telecom, the international distributor of cellular phones and accessories, has added Orange to its list of suppliers, from July, the company announced yesterday.

The news came as the company confirmed it was placing 9.6 million shares at 115p in a flotation valuing it at pounds 36m.

The flotation, which is expected to raise pounds 6.5m million, is underwritten by Singer & Friedlander, and is aimed at reducing debt and providing capital to underwrite further expansion.

Dealings in European Telecom, which operates in around 50 countries, are due to start in London on 6 June. European Telecom supplies 1,400 customers, including leading manufacturers Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola. Sales last year were pounds 78.5m.

The company was founded by Warren Hardy, who will retain about 70 per cent of the shares, worth about pounds 29.5m. Based near Heathrow Airport, its sales have risen from just pounds 170,000 in 1991 to pounds 78.5m last year, while profits have grown from pounds 6,000 to pounds 2.44m.

The company aims to ride the boom in the sale of products for the mobile market, particularly in countries such as Italy where growth rates have been very high. The introduction of digital equipment, allowing free roaming from country to country and far more reliable connections, has given the market an added boost, telecoms analysts say. There are also high expectations for so-called wireless office technology, allowing fax and other data exchange using celluar links.

The liberalisation of the European telecoms market from 1998 is also expected to give a boost to equipment suppliers and manufacturers.