Ionica share ramp foiled

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ATTEMPTS HAVE been made to ramp the share price of Ionica, the troubled wireless telephone company, by claiming that the mobile operator Vodafone has agreed to mount a financial rescue.

A press release on headed Vodafone paper has been sent to at least one national newspaper falsely claiming that Vodafone has agreed to become a strategic investor in Ionica. However, the announcement was exposed as a fake. It also contained a number of spelling mistakes.

Tony Coleman, the Ionica chairman, said yesterday that he remained confident of announcing a financial rescue of the group before the end of the year. Ionica announced this summer that it was seeking a strategic investor after its banks refused to provide any further funding because of its failure to increase customer numbers quickly enough.

Mr Coleman told the annual shareholders' meeting in London that Ionica had sufficient funds to continue operations until January next year. He promised that an announcement would be made as soon as possible about a refinancing but he would not comment on the number of partners it was talking to or their identity.

Ionica was floated on the stock market in July last year for 390p, valuing the group at pounds 659m. Since then the shares have plunged as low as 7p, although they rallied yesterday climbing from 8.75p to 13.25p.

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