Fujitsu gets hold of ICL

FUJITSU, the Japanese information technology group, yesterday took full control of ICL as part of its plans to float the British computer services company on the London Stock Exchange in 2000, writes Peter Thal Larsen.

Fujitsu bought the remaining 9.9 per cent of ICL it did not own from Nortel Networks, the Canadian telecom equipment manufacturer. Although the price was not disclosed, Fujitsu is believed to have paid between 12bn and 13bn yen (pounds 52m and pounds 56m) for the stake.

The sale was triggered when Nortel decided to exercise a two-year-old option to sell its holding to ICL at a predetermined price.

ICL has long been a candidate for a stock market listing but its plans have suffered numerous delays as the company struggles to improve its profitability. The latest target is for a pounds 1.5bn flotation in the year 2000.

Keith Todd, chief executive of ICL, said: "This simplification of our ownership structure is an important step towards meeting our objective of flotation in 2000."

However, industry analysts believe ICL has missed its chance to take advantage of booming demand for information technology stocks, and is now more likely to be sold to a trade buyer.