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The CBI's Digby Jones
"Comments were taken out of context"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
CBI boss criticised over dotcom glee
digby jones
Digby Jones joined the CBI at the start of the year
Chairman of Dixons, Sir Stanley Kalms, has criticised CBI director-general Digby Jones for comments in which he welcomed the recent correction in internet shares.

At a meeting of West Midlands businessmen last week, Mr Jones criticised the trend that had resulted in loss-making internet firms replacing "old economy" industrial firms in the FTSE index of top 100 companies.

He said he was glad there had been a big correction in internet shares.

freeserve website
Freeserve is the UK's biggest ISP
Dixons owns 80% of the country's largest internet service provider, Freeserve, which Mr Jones compared unfavourably with "old economy" companies such as Wolseley the plumbers' merchant which has annual profits of about 300m.

Freeserve employs 100 people and has yet to make a profit.

In a letter, Sir Stanley accused Mr Jones and the CBI of not being willing to "fly the flag for the pioneers and innovators that will create Britain's new economy".

He said he was astonished at the CBI's "willingness to denigrate a (CBI) member company universally applauded as a fantastic British success story."

Remarks defended

Digby Jones said he had not yet received Sir Stanley's letter, but noted that his remarks on the issue had been taken out of context.

Mr Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he had not intended to denigrate any UK company and that the CBI clearly supported entrepreneurs.

He said the point he had been trying to make was that it was important that the shares of FTSE 100 companies were valued correctly as businesses depended on being included in the index for access to capital.

It was obvious that "many investors had got on so many horses at the start of the race to make sure that those that got to the finishing line, they were on the back of those as well."

He said his accompanying comments, which were not reported, included describing Freeserve as one of the companies which he believed would get to the finishing line.

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See also:

08 Mar 00 | Business
Shake-up for UK share index
30 May 00 | Business
Bid fever boosts Freeserve
07 Jan 00 | Business
The end of the net effect?
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