Vocalis goes under with £1.5m debts

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The Independent Online

Vocalis, the maker of speech recognition software for call centres, collapsed into administration yesterday and said its chief executive was leaving with immediate effect.

The Cambridge-based company has sold its main business to a rival firm, NetDecisions, for a nominal £1 in return for the company taking on part of the Vocalis' £1.5m debts.

The administrators, Begbies Traynor, said they hoped the sale would safeguard virtually all the 60 people employed by Vocalis. Creditors are expected to be paid in full though only a modest amount is likely to be left for shareholders.

Vocalis' customers, which include Powergen, Abbey National and the Chelsea Building Society, should be unaffected.

Vocalis was floated on the stock market in July 1996 and its shares reached a peak of £5.46 valuing the company at £760m before being suspended at the end of the July at 1.12p. Sales growth was insufficient to cover costs and the business made cumulative losses of £23m.

Paul Wright, the chief executive, is leaving with a pay-off of around £100,000. Richard Watrasiewicz, the group operations director, will join NetDecisions.

Last November, Vocalis reported a net loss of £1.5m for the six months to 30 September.

In March, the company lowered its revenue forecast, saying it was taking "longer than planned" to convert "sales opportunities into firm orders in the current market."

In July Vocalis said market conditions and its small size were the cause of its not receiving any orders. The company added it had £1.1m cash at the end of June, which it was spending at the rate of £375,000 a month.

Last week the company said it was in discussions to sell its main business, Vocalis Limited, with the group company expected to be placed into administration.

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