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Saturday, May 2, 1998 Published at 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK


Demon deal nets millions
image: [ Scottish power: expanding into the Net business ]
Scottish power: expanding into the Net business

The founder of the UK's largest independent Internet provider has become one of Britain's richest men after selling the company for £66 million.

The BBC's Rory Cellan Jones reports on the Demon deal (35")
Cliff Stanford, the largest shareholder and chief executive of Demon Internet, is picking up about £33 million from the deal with ScottishPower.

The former accountant plans to leave the business, which runs half of all UK websites, to go on holiday before returning to pursue other interests.

Mr Stanford, who now lives in Belgium, launched Demon from the boiler room of a cinema in Southend, Essex.

The firm cost under £30,000 to set up. Like many newly-launched high-tech businesses it has yet to make a profit.

Demon made losses of £2.9m last year, despite sales doubling to £18m.

Scottish swoop

There had been speculation that the communications giant BT was poised to buy Demon for £60m. But it was pipped at the post by ScottishPower's subsidiary ScottishTelecom.

Rod Matthews, chief executive of ScottishTelecom, has become the new chairman of Demon Internet.

Cliff Stanford explains how boredom spurred him on to success (18")
He said: "The provision of on-line and telecoms-based information has become an increasingly important element of our business."

The telecoms company, launched three years ago, has gained 6% of the £2bn business customer market in Scotland. It plans to capture 10% by the year 2000.

Roy Bliss, managing director of Demon, said: "Demon Internet was the first Internet service provider in the UK to offer affordable Internet access to everyone - hence the fact that our subscriber base has grown to 180,000 in just under six years.

"This deal with ScottishTelecom will pave the way for numerous investment and infrastructure expansions plans that we have in place for building on the service we currently offer our customers."

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