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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK

Business: The Company File

City sells off phones

The group wants to compete in the national telecoms market

The UK's only council owned telephone business, Kingston Communications of Hull, is to be floated on the London stock market.

The Hull City Council-owned group hopes to raise around £150m from the sale of shares.

It intends to use the money to expand the company nationally and offer more advanced services for customers.

"The flotation will give Kingston Communications access to additional capital to allow the company to pursue its strategic objective of becoming a major national provider of advanced telecommunications services," said chief executive Steve Maine in a statement.

[ image: Kingston Communications has been owned by Hull city council since 1902]
Kingston Communications has been owned by Hull city council since 1902
Hull City Council also intends to sell part of its holding to raise a further £150m, a move which is will leave it with a stake of about 50%, large enough for it to retain overall control of the company.

The majority of shares will be offered to national and international institutional investors.

Hull citizens and Kingston staff will be given priority in buying a stake in the firm valued at £650m if the offer is oversubscribed, but will not be offered discounts or sweeteners.

Hull City Council has owned Kingston since 1902.

It is the only one of 13 local authorities who were awarded operator's licences to still be in the public telephone business.

It is intended that the flotation will be completed in July and that shares will be sold to investors in the UK and internationally.

Kingston said its earnings before exceptional items rose 8% to £7.1m ($11.44 million) in the year to March 31, on turnover up 15% to 148.3m.

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