Bunhill: Time lapse

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The Independent Online
ALAS, yet another disconcerting tale concerning British Airways. Following my story a few weeks ago about its inventory computer, called 'Time', BA has finally admitted that the information it contained is, or was, wrong.

Time was installed in stages, the most important being the final one in 1987, after privatisation. That was when every nut and bolt was counted and, according to BA, an error margin of up to 45 per cent was revealed. In other words, the declared stock of pounds 300m at privatisation could have been overstated by up to pounds 135m.

The possible discrepancy was reported to senior management but has only recently been acknowledged.

BA brushes the matter aside. A spokesman commented: 'Before BA was sold, the government and advisers had to satisfy themselves the pounds 900m market capitalisation was a fair and equitable value. At the time of the privatisation, the whole of the net asset value was subject to scrutiny. Since then, it has never been necessary to examine the accounts.'

That was all he would say. But what I want to know is, how much was missing? Was it ever provided for in the annual accounts? Has BA ever made an insurance claim for the deficit? And if not, why not?

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