Newbrain Bid

Time is running out for the stricken Newbrain (PCN, issue 26).

The first signs of a rescue attempt appeared last week as a group of Newbrain dealers and ex-Grundy employees prepared to bid for the machine. But Grundy Business Systems, the would-be rescuers, and even High Street rescuers, and even High Street retailers agreed that time is not on the Newbrain's side.

The fear is that interest in the Newbrain in the shops will wane very quickly unless a good home can be found for it. Grundy finance director Tony Wheeler said: "in terms of the product I'd be very optimisitc about its future. But time is working against us. If anyone is to step in, it has to be in the next few weeks - otherwise people will start moving away from it."

He added: "We are all working as far as we can to find a prospective purchaser. A number of people have expressed interest in buying the business."

Mr. Wheeler would not name any of these people, but the only would-be rescuer to reveal itself so far is interested not in the business but in the rights to the Newbrain. This is a consortium of dealers and individuals being organised by the Computer Traders Association (CTA), of which Grundy Business Systems was a member.

The CTA's Nigel Backhurst explained: "It is a group of about 30 or 40, including some overseas dealers. The intention is that a new company will be formed to buy the rights to the Newbrain."

If the group successed, the future of the Newbrain and the CP/M system - for which Grundy claims to have a substantial order book - could be assured, and existing machines would continue to be supported. But Mr. Backhurst also stressed the need for speed: "We expect Grundy to appoint a liquidator on September 8, we could start talking on the 12th, and we'd need an answer by the 23rd."

A hint of what could happen to the Newbrain came last week from Lasky's, probably the country's biggest single outlet of Newbrains. If the Newbrain is orphaned, Mike O' Reardon, group computer managed for the London area, said: "We will withdraw them and possibly sell them at a reduced price without back-up."

Lasky's offers various guarantees and if the Newbrain goes under it may offer current Newbrain owners who bought their machines there some kind of trade-in. Either way, you should be safe: Mr. O' Reardon said: "We will carry spare parts for those units for the next five years."

The fate of Grundy Business Systems should be decided at a creditors' meeting due to take place this morning (Thursday).