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Business News

Clearspeed quick off the mark with chip design

SOS thinking big; TSL worth a look; Greg eyes targets; Something brewing

Clearspeed Technology, a Bristol-based microchip developer, was one of the few companies to manage a successful flotation during the summer lull - and there is further share price performance to come.

Clearspeed Technology, a Bristol-based microchip developer, was one of the few companies to manage a successful flotation during the summer lull - and there is further share price performance to come.

The company is doing exciting work to develop a super-fast chip that operates alongside existing processors to allow the high-performance computing that is needed in biotechnology and nanotechnology research and by government super-computers. It specialises in "parallel processing", which allows microchips to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

And it will say this week that it has brought forward the commercial launch of its first product, which at the time of its flotation in July had been pencilled in for the end of November. The company has been refining the trial version of the CS301 since last autumn and has won a slot at the prestigious Fall Processor Forum in San José to launch the final design. That should give a new kick to the dealings with systems makers such as Sun Microsystems and others, who Clearspeed hopes will decide next year on whether to design in the company's technology to their own computers.

Clearspeed has offices in Bristol and Los Gatos, California, and is headed by Tom Beese, its chief executive, a former executive at Hewlett Packard. It raised a little over £10m in July, with heavyweight fund managers including Fidelity and New Star coming on board. Since then the stock has risen from the 96p placing price to rest at 125p on Friday, and the newsflow looks likely to spur further gains from this speculative investment.

SOS thinking big

Sovereign Oil Services, a personnel group supplying managers and manual workers for oil rigs and other posts in the industry, had to postpone its planned flotation in June, but the company is continuing to make progress behind the scenes.

The company is being assembled through a string of acquisitions by Graham Burgess, the oil industry veteran, founder of gas storage group Star Energy and serial non-executive director. His original plans to expand SOS with the £20m acquisition of a Scottish engineering firm collapsed when 3i Group, the venture capitalists, pulled out of talks. That meant no flotation at the time, although there is still the ambition to create a £60m company with interests across the oil services sector. Acquisition talks are continuing.

Mr Burgess is building SOS with Peter Felter, a lawyer, as his chairman. The pair previously worked together at MOS International, the rig winches maker, before resigning to pursue their new venture last November.

TSL worth a look

A Company which uses pig skin to repair hernias and do nose-jobs could be worth a look this week - if you're not too squeamish. Tissue Science Laboratories sterilises the pig skin to make implants for a variety of surgical uses, and it will be updating the market on its progress with sales to surgeons and the latest product development news. In particular, Zimmer, the surgical products giant, is planning to sell TSL's product in the US next year as a way of mending torn shoulders. Because it is a biological product, rather than metal or plastic, TSL believes it binds most effectively with human tissue. TSL is planning to call City analysts in later this year for a "teach in" session to learn about even more potential uses, which could include bulking up the urethra of women for whom child birth has left them mildly incontinent.

Greg eyes targets

Let's play Second Guess Greg. This is the fun game being played by small cap fund managers trying to work out the first likely acquisition target for Greg Hutchings, the former Tomkins boss who is hoping to emulate the creation of that engineering conglomerate with his new venture, Lupus Capital. Lupus currently makes quick release couplings for loading lines used by oil and gas companies, but Mr Hutchings is not going to be tied to any particular area of manufacturing for his first deal, which could be worth up to £100m. One fund manager's guess, imparted with a wink late last week, is Carlco. The plastic moulding and specialist wire products group is listing under debts of £28m, compared with a market value for its shares of £23m, and it is unclear whether its efforts to move production to low-cost countries will be able to shore up profits in the short term.

Something brewing

Eighteen months ago, Pursuit Dynamics was a company promising a revolutionary steam-driven pump to replace the outboard motor, but in the course of its development work it has hit upon something much more likely to work and find a commercially successful use. It has started selling pumps with no moving parts to food producers and drinks companies who have found it can make pumping, heating and mixing more efficient. The company's new guise will be dignified today with the appointment of Rooney Anand as a non-executive: Mr Anand is head of brewing at Greene King and has also run Sara Lee Bakery UK.