Display IT `seems to have disappeared'

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The Independent Online
The decline of Display IT and its founder, Peter Levin, continued apace yesterday as it emerged that the company had made no contact with its only market-maker, JP Jenkins, since its shares were suspended a fortnight ago.

Both Display IT's London office phone number and Mr Levin's mobile phone number have been cut off. The office number has a recorded message: "Sorry, this number is temporarily out of order. We're sorry for any inconvenience."

The company is listed on Ofex, a market run by JP Jenkins, which has successfully listed 170 companies and raised more than pounds 100m for them in the process. Display IT provides cheap stock market information culled from the Internet, and its shares hit 810p earlier this year. Two weeks ago the shares were suspended at 245p after a raft of resignations.

Display IT is regulated as a company by the Department of Trade and Industry. It is not clear, however, if the DTI is making any enquiries over the share suspension. A spokeswoman for the DTI said yesterday: "We can neither confirm nor deny that we are investigating any company or individual."

Barry Hocken, a director of JP Jenkins, yesterday defended Ofex as a market, while saying he was mystified as to Mr Levin's whereabouts.

When asked whether it was unusual for a company not to communicate with its only market-maker, as had happened with Display IT over the past two weeks, Mr Hocken said: "The shares are suspended. We've said we would not relist them until the company made a statement. It's a state of stalemate.

"It's unusual in terms that the company seems to have disappeared." When asked whether he knew where Mr Levin was, Mr Hocken said: "I've no idea at all." Would he like to hear from Mr Levin? "It could be of interest, yes."

Mr Hocken concluded: "We have nothing whatsoever to hide in what we do here in Ofex. No one has ever said it's not high risk. There will always be accidents."

"But we have listed 170 companies on the market. Ofex is a very popular way of raising capital for small companies."

Over the last month Display IT has suffered a spectacular list of resignations. First its public relations firm College Hill resigned, followed by its chairman Daniel Familiant, director Bill Murphy, company secretary Tom Mackay and company solicitors Taylor Johnson Garret.

Then this Tuesday its auditors, Deloitte & Touche, resigned, as well as another director, Gerald Giombetti. Yesterday Mr Hocken said JP Jenkins was "never aware he was a director of the company".

On Monday a director of Display IT visited corporate recovery specialists at Arther Andersen, the accountancy firm, in order to discuss the possibility of applying for an administration order.

Since then, however, no communication has taken place between Display IT and Andersens.

Yesterday a spokesman for Andersens said: "We have no relationship with the company."