Thomson to float Global Telematics

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The Independent Online

Thomson-CSF, the French defence group which bought Racal Electronics for £1.8bn earlier this year, confirmed yesterday that it is to press ahead with the flotation of its UK satellite vehicle tracking business as part of a £300m disposal programme.

Thomson-CSF, the French defence group which bought Racal Electronics for £1.8bn earlier this year, confirmed yesterday that it is to press ahead with the flotation of its UK satellite vehicle tracking business as part of a £300m disposal programme.

Global Telematics, which is owned 50:50 by Racal and European Telecom, is valued by analysts at between £200m and £300m. The company deals only with fleet car customers such as Avis, parcelforce and Allied Pickfords and has revenues of about £4m a year.

Thomson-CSF said it had not yet decided how much of the business to float or when exactly the public offer would take place. But Denis Ranque, chief executive, said Thomson-CSF's aim was to raise a total of 300m-500m euros (£183m-£306m) over the next 18 months through partial flotations and outright disposals of unwanted businesses.

A spin-off of Racal's security systems division, which provides secure systems for credit card payments, is less likely in the short term. Prior to the Thomson takeover, Racal's chairman Sir Ernest Harrison, had indicated that a flotation of the business, valued at around £1bn, was on the cards. However, since the French takeover, Thomson has strengthened its presence in the security systems market by acquiring a similar business, CGA, from Alcatel.

Mr Ranque ruled out a bid for UK shipyard Vosper Thornycroft but he said the Southampton-based shipbuilder, could be selected to produce a new class of Royal Navy aircraft carrier if Thomson wins the contract.

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