Questel-Orbit Bought by Managers to Form Intellectual Property Group

Article excerpt

Jean Besson, head of Questel-Orbit under the French government-owned telecommunications giant France Telecom, recently announced a management buyout of 80 percent of Questel-Orbit from its former owner. Besson will head up the new company, IPG (Intellectual Property Group). France Telecom will keep 20 percent of IPG and have a seat on its board of directors, but Besson and his staff will be in charge. Employees will have a part-ownership stake in the new company and share in the profits. Details of stock options and profitability plans are still being worked out.

Questel-Orbit spent much of 1998 and 1999 working on the other IPG: Intellectual Property Gold, a project to merge the old Orbit's intellectual property databases and most-desired systems features into Questel to form Questel-Orbit. And it has been a success, according to David Dickens, head of the U.S. office. Questel-Orbit's earnings this year rose 12 percent over the combined earnings of Questel and Orbit this time last year.

Dickens sees even more growth ahead. He says that the new company will have greatly increased flexibility when free of the bureaucracy inherent in a very large company like France Telecom. The new company will also have a more global outlook, compared to France Telecom's European and especially French perspective. However, France Telecom's continued in vestment in IPG will give the new company breathing room, a chance to establish itself and grow.

IPG now constitutes Questel-Orbit's parent company. It may add other entities in the future. Though it's now privately owned, the owners hope to go public in a few years.

Dickens anticipates no shake-ups in either the U.S. or French offices of Questel-Orbit. In fact, he foresees expansion at both locations. He plans to increase the U. …