British investors slam Italy's regulators as Olivetti crisis deepens

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The Independent Online
British banks and institutions are furious with Italian regulators who have left them exposed to the crisis at Olivetti, the Italian computer and office equipment maker.

City brokers specialising in Italian stocks said the exchange in Milan should have slapped a suspension on Olivetti shares two weeks ago, when its finance director complained that the latest accounts were unreliable.

And the bar should have been held in place until they received satisfactory answers, instead of being lifted periodically to allow more instability in the shares, they say. "I've seen panic selling followed by panic buying followed by panic selling," said one trader. "It was really poor procedure from Consob [the Italian regulator]. This stock should have been suspended two weeks ago."

Overseas holdings in Olivetti have grown dramatically recently, with up to 70 per cent of its shares now held abroad.

Brokers also voiced suspicions that the Italian establishment quietly backed out of Olivetti more than a year ago because of its looming losses.