Banks give Torex more time as ex-Railtrack chief takes the helm

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The troubled software developer Torex Retail brought in former Railtrack boss Steve Marshall to head its emergency management team yesterday as its banks threw it a lifeline with a new loan.

The company, which is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and has debts of £152m, has secured a £15m loan that it said would be "sufficient to meet the company's short-term working capital requirements".

Mr Marshall, 50, who takes up his new role as chairman with immediate effect, replaces Chris Moore, who was forced to step down two weeks ago after a raid on his home by the SFO. Torex said it was delighted "to have appointed somebody of the calibre of Mr Marshall, whose experience and guidance will be of great benefit to the company".

Mr Marshall, who sits on the board at Balfour Beatty and Southern Water Services, will work with Keith Taylor, who was appointed as acting chief executive last week after the suspension of Neil Mitchell. Mr Taylor, who just completed a turnaround of the Worthing and Southlands NHS Trust, has already started a thorough assessment of the company.

Torex shares have been suspended since late January, when the company issued a profit warning and warned of higher debt just eight days after it issued an upbeat trading statement.

The London Stock Exchange and the FSA have launched investigations into potential market abuse.

Mr Moore is credited with building Torex Retail into a global software developer that installs electronic point-of-sales systems for retail customers including McDonald's, Argos and French Connection.

The roots of the company stretch back to 1989, when Mr Moore led a management buyout of Smart Terminals. After investing in the healthcare software market, Mr Moore merged the company with iSoft in 2003. He became chairman of the combined company but left after only two months.

iSoft split off the retail business it inherited via the Torex merger. It was floated on AIM in March 2004. Mr Moore rejoined the retail business in November 2004 as deputy chairman, and took on the chief executive's role in 2005.