Psion founder steps aside for new chief

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The Independent Online
PSION, the handheld computer maker recently identified by Bill Gates as Microsoft's biggest rival, yesterday appointed a 36-year-old publishing whizzkid as its new chief executive.

The move will allow David Potter, Psion's founder, to take a less hands- on role. Psion has hired David Levin, currently chief operating officer of financial publisher Euromoney.

Mr Levin, who will join Psion in February, is expected to take control of the group's day-to-day operations. Mr Potter, 55, will become executive chairman with responsibility for Psion's strategy.

"I am still fully committed to Psion but I do need to lead a rather more balanced and measured life," said Mr Potter, who had open-heart surgery last year.

However, he does not plan to retire for at least another five years. Mr Potter described Mr Levin as "a young man but a very mature one, with a strong background in business development".

At Euromoney, Mr Levin handled its acquisition of Institutional Investor, the financial publishing house.

Previously he worked for Apax, the venture capital group, spending two years on secondment to Unicorn International, the engineering group.

Mr Potter said Mr Levin's lack of experience in the computer industry would not prove a problem. "We have plenty of people who are strong on the technology side," he said.

Mr Levin is expected to receive a financial package worth more than pounds 300,000 a year, as well as a large chunk of share options.

Analysts said the appointment filled the gap left by Solly Myers, Psion's managing director, who left earlier this year to run Symbian, Psion's software joint venture with mobile phone groups Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola.

Richard Ensor, managing director of Euromoney, said he was sorry to see Mr Levin go but was flattered that Psion chose its new chief executive from Euromoney.

The announcement came as Euromoney warned that turmoil in financial markets and banking job losses would hit advertising revenues at the group's magazines in the first half of its financial year to September, 1999.

However, Mr Ensor stressed that the recent rebound in the markets, combined with cost-cutting at Euromoney, meant the group was likely to see a recovery in the second half of the year. Shares in Euromoney tumbled 112.5p to 1750p.