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Iomart has plans to tap into new telecoms opportunities

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Turmoil in he dotcom sector has not daunted the brave hears at Iomart launching on the Alternative Investment Market today,
as Bob King found out


Iomart has plans to tap into new telecoms opportunities

STORNOWAY and Glasgow based integrated telecommunications and Internet services company Iomart is not for turning in the face of the recent market meltdown in technology and Internet stocks.

Company sales this year have already passed last year's 300,000 and Iomart said on Monday it had managed to raise the 20million to guarantee the launch's success, valuing it at around 50 million.

It was originally planned that the price range when trading began on April 19 would be 110p to 145p. That has been revised to 90p in the wake of the crash last week of the technology-heavy US Nasdaq index.

Angus MacSween, the chief executive who founded the company with director Bill Dobbie in 1998, with 1.5 million after they left Scottish Telecom, expects to be worth around 23 million after the float.

After a commission in the Royal Navy, Mr MacSween, 43, started a small telephone retail business, which he sold in 1988.

He invested the proceeds in a new business, Teledata, specialising in premium-rate telephone calls and later in the provision of support-centre services.


In March 1996, Teledata was bought by Scottish Telecom, where he became a director of a number of the company's trading subsidiaries until he resigned in June 1998.

At Scottish Telecom, he was responsible for the development of the company's Internet division and the acquisition of a number of complementary businesses. In March 1999, he established AboveNet UK with Bill Dobbie. They sold it in February this year to Metromedia Fibre Networks. Iomart, co-founder Bill Dobbie, 41, its business development director, spent nine years with Unisys in technical sales and marketing.

He joined Teledata in 1989 and helped Mr MacSween grow the company until its sale.

He was also a director of Scottish Telecom, where he concentrated on the growth and development of the company's support -centre division as well as its Internet division.

He was also an executive director of Demon Internet after its acquisition by Scottish Telecom in March 1998.

Non-executive chairman of the company is Nick Kueunssberg, who is currently chairman of Stoddard International GAP Group and Canmore Partnership.


He previously sat on the boards of Standard Life, ScottishPower, Coats Viyella and Dawson International.

Technical director Dr Neil Finlayson 40, joined Iomart in January 1999 after nine years with BT Laboratories.

Prior to that he held several research posts at the University of Arizona researching optical electronics.

He has more than 15 years Internet development experience and specialises in applications, which integrate the web with normal telephone services - such as web conferencing.

He is also a non-executive director of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Customer-service director Sarah Haran 34, worked in the support-centre divisions of Teledata and Scottish Telecom.

During that time, she was responsible for establishing, then managing major support centres and operations centres on behalf of Compaq, Microsoft, ScottishPower and Prestel. Non-executive director Fred Shedden 55, is a corporate affairs expert. Iomart, an Anglicisation of the Gaelic word iomairt, meaning enterprise, is headquartered in Glasgow but its Net Centre is based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

The Net Centre employs more than 80 staff and a further 20 are to be taken on over the coming months, making Iomart one of the largest private-sector employers in the Western Isles.

The company's best-known brand is the consumer Internet service provider (ISP), Madasafish, and a recently landed ISP, Winbiz, aimed at small to medium sized enterprise. A third, Jings, which will focus on all types of Scottish news, sport, music and entertainment is nearing the launch stage.

Ms Haran, customer service director said despite the rural location, which underlined the globalisation of the Net, Iomart had the fastest Internet connection network in the UK.

She said: "Our whole philosophy is based on providing world-class connection speeds and download times, allied to excellent customer support. We are involved in a number of ventures with big players such as Virgin, Freeserve and Planet Football and are adding to our portfolio all the time. The company is also working with BT on trials for ADSL, the new high-speed digital connection method due to be rolled out this summer. Iomart has created an infrastructure to guarantee the highest connection speeds of any Internet service provider in the UK, and Internet powerhouse Cisco has awarded the company its coveted Powered Network status - exclusively awarded to the top 1% of service providers worldwide."

As well as access through the planned series of niche ISPs targeting particular audience groups, the other mainstay of Iomart is a comprehensive range of Internet business solution.

The e-commerce portfolio included virtual Internet services, branded ISPs. Web hosting, website building, co-location, bandwidth on demand dealerships, shop front e-commerce and domain-name registration.


The prospectus issued by stockbroker Peel Hunt said the directors' objective was to create an integrated telecommunications and Internet company with a substantial customer base and a scaleable infrastructure, which can support the delivery of a wide range of services, especially those reliant on broadband technology.

It added: "The directors intend to provide additional services that can be charged for on a subscription or other paid basis such as - mobile internet access, ADSL, unified messaging services, conference calling facilities and traditional voice telephony services.

As Iomart's Internet access and web hosting brands become more established, the directors will evaluate the possibility of generating additional revenues from banner advertising and e-commerce. They believe there are substantial opportunities in the group's chosen markets and are of the opinion that the current strong growth prospects will be enhanced through increased investment in marketing and telesales."