Peter Wilkinson eyes digital TV flotation

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Peter Wilkinson, the serial technology entrepreneur, is planning to float his digital television business later this year.

Digital Interactive Television Group, majority owned by Mr Wilkinson and fellow entrepreneur and former BskyB executive John Swingewood, could attract a valuation of up to £40m - on the more optimistic scenarios.

The company is talking to stockbrokers about a float. Mr Swingewood said Numis was the "preferred broker" but no finance house has yet been appointed to handle the listing and the final decision to go ahead had not yet been taken.

"We are very serious about floating," Mr Swingewood said. "We want to do some consolidating and we need a currency to do that."

He said interactive television had developed to the point at which "conditions will be right soon" for a flotation. He added that there was a lot of interest in the sector.

"Just look at all these reality television shows. It's become quite mainstream to make programmes with interactivity. But so much more could be done," he said.

DITG provides technical services to other broadcasters that want to employ interactivity, such as the BBC and Channel 4. The company also has its own interactive channels, available on the BSkyB satellite platform, providing services such as gambling and game-playing.

Mr Swingewood said the company would be interested in buying other niche channels that had potential for interactivity. The company has also developed a mobile phone service for those with analogue televisions or digital television with no internet connection - such as the Freeview platform. This turns the phone's screen into a replica of a channel and allows customers to interact with that station's services.

Mr Swingewood said DITG was only interested in interactive services that had a clear "transactional element that allows us to monetise".

Mr Wilkinson made a fortune from the internet boom. He is thought to be worth more than £200m. He came up with the idea for Freeserve, the internet service provider. He then made £126m from the £300m sale of his Sports Internet business in 2000 to Sky - where Mr Swingewood was head of new media at the time. Mr Wilkinson also netted £28m from the sale of Planet Online to Energis in 1998.

Among Mr Wilkinson's current businesses is InTechnology, a software and computer services business, where he owns a 57 per cent and Mr Swingewood is also a director.

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