UK-based iPod-chip developer Wolfson Microelectronics will float on London's stock market this autumn, The Scotsman reports.

This would make Wolfson the first technology company to issue an IPO on London's market in over a year. The company has not so far issued comment on the report, and its Web site is currently offline.

Wolfson's IPO could become one of the biggest new listings in London in the tech sector since valuations collapsed three years ago. The report states the launch is planned for late September or early October, for a likely valuation of over £300 million.

The company was spun out of Edinburgh University, and designs so-called mixed-signal chips that convert between analogue and digital signals. Wolfson also develops the chips used in Microsoft's Xbox, which accounted for 15 per cent of sales.

With offices in the US, UK, Japan and Taiwan, Wolfson's sales reached £22.4 million in the year ended December 31 2002 for £2.4 million profit, taking the company from a pre-tax loss of £700,000 in 2001.

The company's bottom-line will also have benefited from the huge success of Apple's iPod MP3 player. Well-received by users and the media, that product has already generated more column inches than the original Bondi Blue iMac, sources told Macworld. Apple sold its millionth iPod in the just gone quarter. Apple's resellers worldwide continue to report high demand for the product.

Announcing Wolfson's results managing director David Milne said: "Our target market environment remains extremely competitive; however, our sales teams have achieved a tremendous result with an impressive increase in the number of customers. We are continuing working to improve our position by investing in new products and high quality personnel."

The company's current financial investors include its 125 employees, Sanyo, the German West LB bank and Enterprise Capital. The latter firm holds 9.7 per cent in the company, and has seen the value of its own shares climb from around 55p to £1.90 since news of the deal began to emerge.

Wolfson founder and CEO, Dr David Milne, was named the European Technology Forum's CEO of the Year (private company), while Wolfson was runner-up in the Hottest UK Technology Prospect category.

Its technologies appear custom-built for digital convergence products. The Scotsman quotes a "company source", who said: "We believe the Internet, along with the advent of wide bandwidth communications, is opening up a whole world of new opportunities for high quality music and video entertainment, voice, audio and imaging services."

The company announced its new low power 24-bit stereo DAC (digital analogue converter) August 11. The component, called the WM8759, carries an integrated headphone driver with up to 50mW headphone power and supports 16- to 24-bit data inputs at up to 192kHz. I

"Audio performance on headphones has become an increasingly significant issue for the next generation of both portable and home digital entertainment systems," said Dr. Milne.

Thanks to Macworld UK reader Nick Spence for help with this story.