Fears over Psion chief

Speculation grows that founder may reduce role

City speculation is growing that founder David Potter may relinquish his executive responsibilities at Psion, the world's leading maker of hand-held computers and one of Britain's most spectacular corporate successes of the last decade.

Mr Potter, 53, is currently recuperating at his London home after an emergency heart bypass operation in mid-December.

This weekend a Psion spokesman said no date had yet been put on his return and declined to deny that Mr Potter, currently chairman and chief executive, may take a non-executive role.

"That's very premature and isn't at all relevant to the running of Psion," the spokesman said.

"David Potter is seen very much as the front man, but all decisions are taken by consensus by the board of seven."

Nonetheless, a back-seat role would concern investors as the firm develops its next phase of palmtop computer and communications products.

Mr Potter, a feisty South African, is synonymous with Psion's phenomenal rise in an industry dominated by overseas giants. Armed with a physics doctorate, he founded Psion in 1980 and launched the world's first hand- held computer four years later.

The huge success of Psion's Organiser II, an icon for executives, paved the way for the firm's 1988 flotation. The shares have jumped more than tenfold since to value the group at pounds 320m and Mr Potter's own stake at pounds 85m.

Psion might now have been worth double that had bid talks with Alan Sugar's Amstrad not fallen through last July.

In September, Mr Potter also dispensed with long-time finance director Mike Langley, a move seen as part of the stresses of transformation to a much larger company.

His illness came as a surprise, after he was detained for an emergency operation following a routine medical check.

"The trouble is that it was all so sudden," one source close to the company said. "It's too early to say whether they should get a new chief executive. But once he has recuperated, he might be told to take it easy or decide to do it himself."

In his absence, day-to-day operations are being run by Nicholas Myers, Psion's technical director, who led development of the Organiser II and successful System 3a palmtops.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss