Accounts admission hits SEP shares

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SEP INDUSTRIAL Holdings, a maker of linkages for industrial machinery, confirmed that accounting irregularities were behind yesterday's delayed year-end results which revealed losses of pounds 11m.

Shares in the group, which had been suspended since 1 April, lost 41 per cent of their value to close at an all-time low of 6p, as pre-tax losses for the year ending 30 September1998 came in at pounds 10.98m.

Some irregularities were discovered last year at the group's subsidiary Quintech Computer Services and led to the resignation of finance director Paul Curson and Quintech going into receivership.

Since then, however, a review discovered further irregularities, with profits "materially overstated" in the 1998 accounts, as well as in previous years.

In a statement non-executive chairman Barry Roberts said there was "no evidence that the reduction in net assets is due to theft or misappropriation of assets".

Mr Roberts joined the company in January with a brief to turn the troubled group around.

City sources said that SEP was ripe for takeover, but Mr Roberts said he believed the company could have a future on its own. Regarding takeover talks, he added: "So far we have had no real approaches".