MD resigns from ailing De La Rue

THE RECENT problems at De La Rue, the banknote printing and smart card group, claimed their first victim yesterday with the departure of the head of the group's largest division.

Haydn Abbott resigned as managing director of the troubled cash systems division. Ian Much, the former T&N executive who took over as chief executive a month ago, will take direct responsibility over cash systems, the company said.

Mr Much will carry out a review of the business, which produces money- counting machines and equipment for automatic telling machines (ATMs). The business has been hit by slow sales of a number of new products and by tough trading conditions in South America, Asia and eastern Europe.

The division's troubles have prompted City analysts to forecast an operating loss of up to pounds 10m for the business in 1998. Industry experts yesterday predicted that Mr Much's review would lead to job losses among the division's staff and to an exceptional charge of about pounds 20m in the current year. The cash systems division employs almost half of De La Rue's 10,000 staff, with about 1,000 employees in the UK.