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Turner takes over at 365 Corporation as beleaguered digital communications company prepares to release annual results

Finance director Martin Turner has his hands full. As well as readying himself to take over as chief executive of the 365 corporation he is preparing the company’s annual results due today.

Turner, who is also responsible to the board for the business division, qualified as a chartered accountant in 1983 and has worked for Price Waterhouse and Arthur Andersen.

‘At this moment in time, Turner is FD and when Dan Thompson steps down in June 2001, he will in fact be acting CEO,’ said a company spokeswoman.

‘Martin Turner is still handling the finance side of the business.’

The company is looking for a successor for Turner, but Thompson will ‘still be able to act as a freelance consultant and advisor.’

Although Thompson ‘leaves the company in good shape,’ according to chairman Ian Martin, the new CEO has a heavy responsibility, to convince investors to remain during a downturn in the internet sector.

Thompson’s departure has left some market watchers sceptical about the beleaguered company.

Investors have also shown little confidence in the company in the past three months, causing shares to fall as much as 21.5p to 13.5p.

But some faith seems to have been restored as shares have rebounded in the past week.

In March, the company attempted to reassure investors saying it expected to maintain growth in gross margins and revenue while maintaining low costs and marketing its products effectively. Shares rose 3% on the news despite an increase in pre-tax losses of #26.7m.

Thompson highlighted recovery in the audiotext market and an increased number of users in the company’s consumer division to 2.9 million during the third quarter. He said: ‘This now allows us to focus on the profitability of the individual services offered by the division’.

Since this report, 365 has announced several deals including launching an online betting service after signing an exclusive deal with flutter.com.

The company also acquired the Formula One website for #250,000.

365 is now planning to launch what it claims will be ‘Europe’s first comprehensive voice portal.’ The product, code named Guardian Angel, will be introduced in the next few months. It is expected to enable users to access customised services on the telephone using Philips’ speech recognition software.

For more on the company, go to: www.accountancyage.com/Business/1120111
Company website is at www.365corp.com

SNAPSHOT Results for the nine months to December 31, 2000
Total revenue: £35.6m
Operating costs: £17.1m
Operating loss: £10.4m

Executive directors: Ian Martin, chairman, appointed November 1999; Dan Thompson, chief executive (until June 2001), appointed July 1997; finance director Martin Turner, appointed February 1999

Auditor: PricewaterhouseCooopers

Company profile: 365 Corporation, founded in 1997 as Direct Network Publishing, has more than 600 employees in eight countries. Operates two divisions, providing internet and communication services to small and medium-sized businesses and sports and entertainment to consumers. Listed on the TechMark index of the London Stock Exchange in December 1999.

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