View from City Road: BT may not be bad news for Sugar

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The Independent Online
Terry Venables, manager of Spurs with a 22 per cent stake, is, like small shareholders in Amstrad, none too keen to play ball with Alan Sugar. Amstrad's shareholders have done well by spurning their chairman's supposedly generous offers.

The shares have climbed from a 12- month low of 20p to 33p, down 1p yesterday. And in contrast to the gloomy picture Mr Sugar painted six months ago, the company returned to a first-half pounds 5.6m taxable profit.

Yesterday's share price fall followed news that BT was planning to enter the high street satellite dish and receiver market. Ironically, this was one dire possibility that Mr Sugar had failed to anticipate at the time of his attempted buy-back.

The obvious risk to Amstrad, with a 60 per cent share of the UK satellite market, is that it will lose ground to a newcomer intent on expanding. But the alternative view is that Amstrad could turn out to be a beneficiary because a big-spending new player may expand the market, as happened in cellular telephony.