BT approached Paula Byrne in August 1988 to discuss the lack of strategic fit and asked her to find potential buyers for the business.
BT didn’t sell the business earlier because until 1988 it was not considered strong enough in regards to financial performance to be sold.
Whilst the management buy-out was being discussed, the rumours started that the business was officially up for sale. It wasn’t at that time, but this did generate interest from outside companies who started to approach BT with enquiries and offers to buy the business.
A number of software companies did express an interest once TelecomSoft was officially up-for-sale, but Mirrorsoft was not amongst them.
The reality was that British Telecom had struggled to find a proper ‘home’ within BT for TelecomSoft from day one. Starting off in BT’s ‘Information Services’ Division, the company had then been moved to ‘Spectrum’ and finally ‘Dialcom’, where it remained until the sale in 1989.
In the week leading up to the official announcement, a photographer from CTW visited the TelecomSoft office and took a group photo of all TelecomSoft staff in the New Oxford Street meeting room, but it was never used and has, in fact, never been seen or published. It would be great to get hold of that photo now, but my previous attempts to get it out of CTW (now defunct) failed miserably!
The Development Department had to showcase all of the titles currently in development to prospective buyers over the next few months. This included titles like Rick Dangerous, Weird Dreams, Quartz, Oriental Games, Stunt Car Racer, Rainbow Islands, Mr Heli, P47, Action Fighter, conversions of Carrier Command, Starglider 2, etc.
By late March 1989 it became clear that Microprose were strong favourites to buy the business. This wasn’t that unexpected because over the previous six months or so, a small number of staff had left TelecomSoft and joined Microprose UK Ltd, including publisher Paul Hibbard, and Pete Moreland and Steve Perry from the Development Department.
The Sale was concluded in early May 1989, and all but a dozen or so staff opted to remain within BT (although some left to join other software publishers or developers soon afterwards). The first official day of Microprose ownership was May 9th 1989, although a few months after the sale, BT wrote to a number of suppliers stating that the company was sold on May 5th.
Some of the staff who joined Microprose had to move out of the New Oxford Street Office into a cramped one room office near Victoria Station, London. They remained there until that office was vacated in mid-October 1989, after which they moved to the Microprose UK HQ in Tetbury, Gloucestershire or took voluntary redundancy.