Computer float could leave chief worth pounds 42m

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Humayan Mughal, managing director of the specialist computer manufacturer Akhter, will be worth up to pounds 42m when the group floats on the London Stock Exchange this summer. Harlow-based Akhter, which is raising pounds 20m in a placing, will be valued at pounds 60m, writes Sameena Ahmad.

Mr Mughal, who with his wife founded the company in 1979, will have his shareholding diluted to around 70 per cent after the float from 83 per cent.

Though almost two-thirds of the group's business is manufacturing personal computers, Mr Mughal said it was not affected by slowing demand for PCs: "We make very specialised systems exactly to customers' requirements. We don't stock finished computers and then have to sell them off at a discount."

Akhter is also developing a higher-margin consultancy and services business. This year the group made pounds 5m of profits before exceptional items on pounds 36m of sales, just 3 per cent up on 1996.

More than half of Akhter's business comes from central government and the Ministry of Defence, for which it makes portable hard drives which can be removed from computers for security purposes over 25,000 times without wearing out.

The heavy dependence on government work means that around 75 per cent of Akhter's sales come in the second half of the year, with most in the last two months.