Wednesday, January 27, 1999 Published at 12:33 GMT
Business: The Company File
Kingston rings the changes
A distinctive Kingston Communications cream-coloured telephone box
Britain's only council-owned telephone company may be coming to the end of the line.
Kingston Communications, which has served Hull for almost a century, wants to float on the stock exchange.
Its fate will be decided on Wednesday evening by the Labour councillors who control Hull City Council.
It remains the only survivor of experiments with town hall phone systems at the turn of the century and has grown into a profitable international telecommunications business.
However it needs to raise half a billion pounds if it is to compete with the major players and the amount of public money the city council can spend is restricted.
After months of speculation, financial advice and political manoeuvering, the firm's only shareholder - Hull City Council, is expected to agree to sell at least part of Kingston Communications so that fresh investment funds can be found.
Professor Cosmo Graham of Hull Law School said: "It is clearly the end of an era now that they are being floated.
"They have been in local authority control since the turn of the century and there is a possiblity in the future of them losing their local monopoly."
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