For decades British technology laboured with its image as a boffin-led but ineptly managed industry. However, the recent fortunes of emerging star Bookham Technology shows change is on the horizon, writes Jerry Frank. Last month the Oxford-based maker of fibre-optic components for the silicon chip industry shot onto the LSE and Nasdaq with a #3bn flotation that has sparked talk of a renaissance for UK technology firms. Finance director Stephen Cockerell, a chartered accountant who qualified with Deloitte Haskins and Sells and also holds an engineering degree, is due this week to release impressive quarterly results. Mid-April was a stormy time for new technology stocks sail, but Bookham Technology still launched on the LSE and Nasdaq and new shares rose 146% on the first day of trading. As dot.com values crashed around them, Cockerell and the management team proved that solid technology is safer than gold digging with a jump from #10 to #24.625p, that, in the first day, would almost have been sufficient to gain entry to the FTSE-100. With its high volume production of the silicon chip components that guide signals sent down fibre-optic cables used for the internet, the 10-year old internet infrastructure providers had already attracted US giants Cisco Systems and global semiconductor giant Intel as shareholders . However, Bookham is still expected to make a #19m loss this year on a #25.1m turnover, with its first quarterly profit not expected until the first quarter of 2001.
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