Baltimore shares jump 32% after Rooney quits

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The Independent Online

Baltimore Technologies, the internet security software company, yesterday announced the resignation of Fran Rooney, its chief executive and deputy chairman. Mr Rooney has headed the business for five years and still owns 6.7 million shares in the company. His resignation follows two profits warnings and a major restructuring programme as well as the departure of a string of key executives.

While shares in Baltimore yesterday closed up 31.6 per cent at 25p, the stock is still a long way below its £13.75 high, reached in March last year. Mr Rooney netted £5.8m when he sold 1 million shares in the business in May 2000 at 580p each.

Mr Rooney said yesterday that he had "decided to pursue other interests, which include board positions that have been offered to me". The company would not be drawn on Mr Rooney's severance package.

Paul Sanders, Baltimore's finance director, will act as interim chief executive until a replacement is found, and two former board members have been brought back.

David Guyatt, who resigned from Baltimore in May, rejoined the board yesterday as a non-executive director, and Bijan Khezri, who parted company with Baltimore last November, is returning as a non-executive director.

Mr Sanders said: "[Mr Rooney] decided to resign over the weekend. The company is going through a new phase of development and faces fresh challenges. It's a tough market. Perhaps it was time for a change but fundamentally, it was Fran's decision to resign."

Last week, Baltimore announced that it would undertake a major restructuring even though it has already cut 250 jobs this year from its workforce of 1,400. Analysts, who feared the company might run out of cash, expect a similar number of workers would be made redundant when the company reports its interim results next month.