Computer group suspended over accounts problem

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The Independent Online
Shares in the computer group Azlan were suspended yesterday in the light of "certain unresolved accounting issues which will have a material effect on the results" for the year to 5 April. Before the shares were frozen, they tumbled 30p to 555p, more than 200p lower than the all-time high they reached last summer.

The shares are to remain suspended until the publication of full-year figures, which were due to have been announced on June 26.

The company said it would make a further announcement as soon as possible but was unable to say when it would be able to issue its results.

A spokesman for Azlan said there was no evidence of impropriety or fraud. He added it was too early to quantify the impact of the accounting issues on the company's balance sheet. Yesterday's share price fall wiped pounds 10m from Azlan's market value.

The unexpected announcement is Azlan's second embarrassing stumble in six months. In January it caused red faces at SBC Warburg when a pounds 48.5m rights issue was taken up by just 0.56 per cent of its shareholders. Warburg was forced to subscribe for about 17.5 per cent of the issue in its role as primary underwriter for the cash call, while its market-making arm took up almost 10 per cent more as a sub-underwriter.

The debacle meant Warburg ended up owning more than 6 per cent of Azlan, acquired at the 620p rights price, well above yesterday's suspension price.

The rights issue was launched last November when the shares traded at 740p, close to their all-time high. But they slumped soon afterwards, falling below the rights price and ensuring there would be no demand for the newly issued stock.

The cash call was announced to fund the company's biggest-ever deal, the pounds 29.6m acquisition of Dutch group Akam International, and to strengthen its balance sheet.

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