PNC Telecom administrators drop lawsuit against ex-chief

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The Independent Online

The administrators of PNC Telecom, the mobile phone distributor, have dropped a legal action taken out by the company against one of its former chief executives.

Numerica Group said it had withdrawn the High Court action after reviewing the case brought by the company against Darren Ridge.

"The administrators are satisfied that there is no case to answer," it said, adding it had also investigated allegations made in the press.

Mr Ridge, who had sold KJC, a 60-strong phone shop chain he had owned with a partner, to PNC, quit as chief executive in May 2002.

Geremy Thomas, PNC's founder, then mounted a bid to regain control of the company. Mr Thomas, who had wanted a full-scale clearout of the PNC board, settled for the departure of Lord Stevens of Ludgate as chairman and the appointment of John Peett, a former Vodafone director, in his place.

However, Mr Thomas criticised the board for agreeing to sell KJC and the PNC fixed-line business to privately-owned Vanguard for £2m in cash and the assumption of a number of liabilities, including debt and staff contracts.

This left PNC as a holding company. In June this year it called in administrators to protect its assets as rent payments fell due.

At the time of administration its shares were trading at just 1.37p - valuing the company at just £650,000.

At their peak three years ago the shares of this one-time darling of the dot.com era hit 410p and the group was valued at nearly £200m.

In June the liquidators, Chris Laughton and Jonathan Birch at Numerica, said they would "investigate the affairs of the company and undertake any appropriate recovery action".

Numerica's latest statement would appear finally to draw a line under PNC's turbulent final 12 months as an AIM-listed company.

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