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Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 13:04 GMT
Psion opts for mobile web
Psion 5 series personal digital assistant
Psion's 5 series of digital assistants runs on the Epoc system
Handheld computer maker Psion has announced plans to raise 100m for acquisitions that will allow the company to move aggressively into the market for mobile internet access.

The company wants to transform its range of organisers into mobile communicators, that will allow users to make phone calls and surf the internet.

Psion chairman David Potter said that his firm's strategy was "now defined around the mobile internet".

He said Psion was "ideally placed to develop and market digital products and services to people on the move - whether they are consumers or among the 40% of the workforce which is mobile".

Drag on profits

But he warned that the scale of investment would "continue to hold back profits".

Woman packing psion computers
Sales picked up during the second half of 1999
During 1999, pre-tax profits fell to 4.55m, down from 23.26m a year earlier.

Turnover was down as well, by 9.5m to 150.4m.

But it was not only large investments that proved to be a drag on earnings. Business was "poor" during the first half of 1999, although the firm says that it saw a strong performance during the second half of the year.

The trend appears to continue, with Psion reporting that during January and February sales were "well ahead" of the same period last year.

Focus on Symbian

Psion's most important asset is its 28% stake in Symbian, the joint venture with Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson and Matsushita.

The firm is on track to roll out version 6 of its Epoc operating system, designed to run mobile phones, communicators and personal digital assistants.

Symbian's high-powered backers make the firm a direct competitor of Microsoft and its Windows CE software.

Cashing in

Psion's main currency to finance its expansion plans is its much sought-after stock.

But the firm's directors are cashing in too, with chairman David Potter selling some of his stake in the company, up to a value of 100m.

That is less than 10% of director's holdings, although it will reduce Mr Potter's stake to 14%.

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See also:

01 Feb 00 |  Business
The Psion factor
31 Jan 00 |  Business
Psion pockets Motorola deal
09 Dec 99 |  Business
The mobile internet race
22 Feb 00 |  Business
Internet drive by companies
16 Sep 99 |  The Company File
Psion profits collapse
14 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Psion and Palm establish links
21 Oct 99 |  Business Basics
The Telecom Revolution
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