ICL's aspirations of floating on the UK Stock Exchange next year will be tested by the findings of a government review of the £1 billion Pathway project it is implementing for the Post Office and Benefits Agency.
There has been speculation that the project could be axed in the face of disagreements between the two government agencies about system specifications.
Anna Campopiano, head of marketing and communications at ICL Pathway, said: 'If the project is discontinued, it would be wrong to assume that it is integral to the success of the organisation. ICL is not a one-deal company.'
But industry analyst Richard Holway said the Pathway project was 'the litmus test' for the success of ICL's flotation, planned for mid-2000.
ICL is already battling City concerns about its recent financial performance. While as a private financing initiative, no revenue from the Pathway project was ever guaranteed by the vendor, the loss in ongoing turnover and damage to its reputation could affect its public listing.
The vendor is understood to have already ploughed more than £200 million into Pathway. Campopiano refused to confirm this figure, but acknowledged that the vendor must pay for the design and implementation of the system and all associated training. It derives revenue from the usage of the system.
The contract to automate 19,000 post offices, including the transfer of pension benefits to a card-based system, has so far been completed in 200 locations.
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