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Archie Norman lined up for Energis as banks take over

Poisoned Chelys?

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Archie Norman - the Tory MP and former Asda chairman - is to take charge of troubled alternative telco, Energis.

Sixteen banks owed £690m have rejected a bid for the ailing telco by a consortium led by financial outfits Apax and Carlyle.

Instead, the banks have decided to go it alone and take charge of the telco themselves in a bid to turn the company around.

Weekend press reports said the banks will pump an extra £150m into the company.

However, existing shareholders are likely to be left with nothing.

The telco will be renamed Chelys*.

Responding to weekend press speculation Energis issued a statement this morning saying discussions are at "an advanced stage with Energis' bank and bondholder representatives which, if concluded, would result in the UK business being sold to and recapitalised by a company set up for this purpose."

The deal is expected to go ahead this week.

In January shares in Energis slumped after it issued a profits warning.

A month later is announced it would lay off 400 staff - on top of 350 staff elbowed three months earlier - in a bid to slash overheads. It also decided to flog or close its European operations.

Shares in Energis had fallen 0.15p (13.64 per cent) to 0.95p by mid morning. ®

* Our thanks to Reg reader, Stephen Roberts, who informed us that Chelys is the title of a magazine for the the Viola da Gamba Society. The society's aim is to advance the study of viols (medieval stringed instruments).

Stephen asks the question: "Post Worldcom, would you want your telco named after a fiddle?"

Very droll.

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