ICL set to delay float plans rise

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The Independent Online
ICL is set to announce flat profits for 1994 after restructuring charges and is expected to confirm another delay in its flotation, to 1997 at the earliest.

The computer company, which made £23.4m before tax in 1993, is majority owned by Fujitsu of Japan and had been expected to seek a listing on the London stock market this year.

A source in the company said: "The shareholders are committed to a flotation and it will happen. But we will only do it when the conditions in the market are right." He said that ICL is likely to want two to three years of profit growth before a flotation.

The company is unusual among European computer groups in having remained in the black throughout the prolonged downturn in the industry. It expects 1995 to be the turning point, with world markets coming out of recession.

ICL is now nearing completion of its restructuring and expects the workforce of 24,000 to remain fairly stable. The company also expects to benefit increasingly from joint product development with Fujitsu.

The £730m takeover of ICL by the Japanese in 1990 was regarded as highly controversial. However Fujitsu appears to have taken a hands-off approach to the UK firm despite increasing its holding to 84 per cent at ICL's rights issue last year.

The other shareholder, Northern Telecom, has always made it clear that it would sell its stake if offered the right price. There has been speculation that ICL would take a stake in Bull, the French computer group, which is due to be privatised.

ICL believes that while Bull might be a good partner in specific areas, it would not be appropriate to buy into the company.