Former Wolfson finance chief’s move to Calnex fuels talk of flotation

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Former Wolfson Microelectronics finance boss George Elliott has taken over as chairman of Calnex, the fast-growing technology outfit that makes equipment for testing mobile phone networks, fuelling talk of a possible stock market flotation.

Elliott, who helped to guide Wolfson through its flotation in 2003, became chairman of Edinburgh-based dating website operator Cupid in June 2010 before it joined the Alternative Investment Market.

He also began chairing the board of Craneware in August 2007 ahead of the Edinburgh-based hospital software billing firm floating on Aim.

Linlithgow-based Calnex – which lists Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone among its clients – secured £2 million of funding in August from the Scottish Loan Fund, the £113m investment vehicle set up in 2011 by the Scottish Government and the high street banks and run by Glasgow-based Maven Capital Partners.

Calnex chief executive Tommy Cook told Scotland on Sunday: “Since we took on board funding earlier in the year, people have been asking if we would float. It will be quite natural for our investors to look for an exit, but it’s too early to say whether that will be through a trade sale or a flotation. We’ve always said that the best way to build up the value of the business is to carry on doing what we’re good at.

“We are excited by the opportunity to bring George on to the board as he has such a wealth of experience in successfully growing companies.”

Elliott replaces John McElroy, who remains on the board of Calnex as a director.

In June, Elliott was appointed as an adviser to the board of Fife-based Cooper Software, in preparation for the firm raising further cash. He is also a former chairman of network music specialist Simple Audio and MicroEmissive Displays, the maker of the world’s smallest television screen.

Cook described 2012 as a “difficult year” for the telecoms sector, with network operators reining in their spending because of the eurozone debt crisis and fears over the United States’ economy.

But Cook added: “This year we have seen a clear recovery of the market, especially in North America and in Asia.

“We have just concluded our first half of the financial year and have seen 60 per cent year-on-year growth in North America, clear signs the market has emerged from the troubles of last year.

“Asia also continues to grow strongly, recording a 30 per cent rise, with China being particularly strong, achieving over 120 per cent of target.”

Cook said that Calnex was now looking to expand into other markets.

“George’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable by being complementary to the current team, bringing first-hand experience in guiding fast-growth companies to maximum their potential,” he said.

Calnex was set up in 2006 and has been hailed for its successful exports by Scottish Enterprise.