Bluetooth firm's IPO shares fetch top price

Cambridge Silicon Radio cited heavy demand for its shares, as investors make a cautious return to high-tech stocks

Bluetooth chip designer Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) has begun trading shares at the top of their expected range in an initial public offering launched on Thursday.

Analysts said the pricing of shares at 200p, and the expansion of the offering by 14 percent, are signs that investors are regaining their taste for high-tech stocks. Demand is thought to have been stoked by the offering of Wolfson Microelectronics last October, where the shares priced at the top of their forecast range and have gained 50 percent in value since their debut.

"We are delighted with the very strong levels of interest and participation in the offer from investors all over the world," said chief executive John Hodgson in a statement. "It demonstrates that investors recognise the potential within CSR and have confidence in our ability to drive future growth."

The offering is raising £78.7m via the sale of 39.4 million shares, and capitalises CSR at £240m based on 120 million shares in circulation. Strong demand led existing shareholders to sell another 5.6 million shares, increasing the offer by 14 percent.

Trading is currently conditional and is limited to employees and institutional investors, with unconditional trading to begin on 2 March under the London Stock Exchange ticker symbol CSR.L. CSR said its employee offer proved a success, with 75 percent of staff applying to take part.

CSR dominates the market for Bluetooth chips, with its designs incorporated into products such as mobile phones from Nokia, Panasonic and Sharp and headsets from Jabra, Motorola and Plantronics. Bluetooth allows mobile devices, PCs and other electronics to communicate wirelessly over a short range. Its biggest competitor at the moment is Wi-Fi, designed with PCs in mind but now being incorporated into PDAs and other gadgets.

Norwegian browser maker Opera Software recently announced it would float shares on 11 March on the Oslo Stock Exchange, and a few other companies in the high-tech sector are also set to turn to the markets for cash. For the past three years such flotation have been rare events, following the implosion of the dot-com bubble.