Visual Information Faces Challengers in Bid to Acquire Amiga

Note: This is a copyright article from BLOOMBERG Business News. It is being reprinted here with their kind permission.

Chicago, Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Visual Information Services Corp. said competitors are challenging its $40 million bid to acquire Amiga Technologies GmbH from bankrupt personal computer maker Escom AG of Germany.

Chicago-based VIScorp, which has developed a set-top box based on Amiga technology that allows users to access the Internet via telephone or television, said it doesn't know exactly how many challengers it faces. That information is held by Bernhard Hembach, Escom's bankruptcy trustee, who was not immediately available for comment.

In July, VIScorp claimed it already had an agreement with Hembach that had been "sealed" and "delivered. "

Today, the company conceded that wasn't the case.

"The fact that Escom was in bankruptcy mad things a little more complicated," said Hugh Jenks, VIScorp's chief operating officer, "as did our lack of understanding of German law."

Jenks said VIScorp still believes it is the front runner to acquire Bensheim, German-based Amiga, and that a final decision will be made "in weeks rather than months."

The company signed a licensing agreement with Amiga(Technologies) in January, and VIScorp hopes the technology will give it an advantage in the race to develop the first interactive television set-top box for the consumer market.

If VIScorp fails to acquire Amiga, it is not clear whether VIScorp will have the legal right to hold on to the license, Jenks said. Losing those rights could damage a "significant" portion of VIScorp's business, Jenks said, but he considers it unlikely because it would not be in a new owner's interest to cut off licensing revenue.

VIScorp's box, which the company expects to introduce by the end of the year, connects to a television and a telephone line and enables consumers to receive fax and phone calls, play video games, rent movies, receive electronic mail and access online services, including The Internet, using a TV remote control.

VIScorp's shares rose 1/8 to 3 5/8 in mid-afternoon trading of 31,500 shares.

Escom declared bankruptcy July 15 after it was unable to reach an agreement with its bank about financing a reorganization.

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