Emblaze chief Reifman steps down

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Emblaze, the former dot.com darling, parted company with its chief executive yesterday after pressure from shareholders over the poor performance of the company.

The Israeli-based technology group said its co-founder, Eli Reifman, would step down from his post as chief executive to become vice-chairman. Mr Reifman, 36, is to be replaced by Emblaze's finance director, Guy Bernstein, in a bid to restore the company's tarnished reputation.

During the dot.com boom, Emblaze briefly found itself close to entering the FTSE 100 Index. Its shares peaked at over 3,500p in March 2000, but have been largely in retreat since. On Friday they closed at 124.75p, valuing the company at just £170m.

Emblaze, which makes mobile phones for the likes of Virgin Mobile, has consistently failed to make a profit over the past five years. In fact, during this period it has racked up £120m of losses, despite delivering strong sales growth.

The Israeli group also has a poor record in spinning off different businesses. In October 2004 it demerged Orca Interactive, a TV software business, and in February 2005 it spun off Adamind, which develops software for mobile phones. Both stocks, listed on the Alternative Investment Market, have performed very poorly.

Emblaze shareholders now want Mr Bernstein to focus on making the company profitable.