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Whizzkid's pounds bn windfall.

A former Walsall schoolboy is set to scoop pounds 250 million when he floats his computer company on the stock market next month.

Mr Philip Hulme will become one of the richest men in the country along with Dr Peter Ogden who co-founded the computer services firm in 1980.

But the 700 staff of Computacenter will also receive windfalls of about pounds 220,000 each.

Mr Hulme told The Birmingham Post: "I've been lucky enough to have sufficient money to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. A bit more money will not make any difference.

"It certainly won't change my lifestyle and I have no plans to retire."

He added: "We have quite enjoyed being a private company, but it is right that we should float now.

"It gives our workforce the opportunity to take advantage of their shareholdings by making a market for them to trade in and see the fruits of their labour.

"It may sound silly but this is a people business and rewarding our employees is really important."

Computacenter, set up by the two men with less than pounds 100,000 of their own money, is expected to be valued at just under pounds 1billion when it obtains a public listing in about six weeks.

Mr Hulme, already a multi-millionaire, will sell some of his shares in the flotation but will still be sitting on a paper fortune variously estimated at between pounds 240-250 million.

About 25 per cent of Computacenter's share capital is to be offered to institutional investors as part of the flotation in May.

Precise details of the price at which Computacenter shares are floated have yet to be released, but a pathfinder prospectus is expected at the end of this month.

Both Mr Hulme and Dr Ogden, who first met at Harvard University while studying for MBAs in the 1970s, own about 26 per cent each of the company, which started life with just one shop in the City of London.

The company has since enjoyed explosive growth, helped by the boom in demand for personal computers as major companies moved away from the unwieldy mainframe systems that they relied on in the 1970s.

Described by computer industry sources as a "very private man" who enjoys a relatively low profile, Mr Hulme, aged 49, grew up in Walsall and Sutton Coldfield.

He attended Queen Mary's Grammar School in the 1950s before leaving the West Midlands to go to Imperial College in London.

A management consultant by training, Mr Hulme worked briefly for Unilever after university before moving to the US to study for an MBA from 1971-3.

He spent the latter part of the decade working for US strategy advisers Boston Consulting Group before launching into the computer business as personal computer revolution got under way.

Mr Hulme, whose recreational activities include sailing, became chairman of Computacenter in 1994, having led it as managing director since 1980.

Although he grew up in the West Midlands and went to school locally, Mr Hulme left Birmingham to go away to university in his late teens and his parents later moved to Ross-on-Wye.

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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