Hull council to float telecoms firm

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The Independent Online
NEARLY A century of municipal ownership will pass into history next month when Kingston Communications, the local phone company owned by Hull City Council, floats on the stock market, writes Bill McIntosh.

The local authority has pondered the move, which values Kingston at more than pounds 600m, for some months. It is expected to sell its shareholding to below 50 per cent and the firm is expected to raise money to fund growth of its network business.

It is the last of what were once 13 local authority-owned telephone businesses.

A book-building round is to be conducted by principal advisor Robert Fleming backed by Deutsche Bank. Local residents and Kingston employees will have access to the offer.

Though its primary business is local service in Hull, Kingston has created a subsidiary called Torch to target the burgeoning market for business telecoms services. Torch set up in the south west in January and is looking to expand to other regions.

"They've learned to focus hard on the needs of small- and medium-sized companies and give them the kind of focus bigger telecoms companies aren't willing to," said Kingston chief executive Steve Maine.