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Publisher suspended as accounts are awaited

Shares in Harrington Kilbride, the beleaguered publishing group, were suspended at the company's request yesterday, pending publication of its annual report and accounts.

Company management was unavailable for comment, and the board was believed to be meeting late into the evening at its Islington, London offices. In a notice to the Stock Exchange, the company's board said that the accounts would be released "imminently".

Last week, it emerged that Kevin Harrington, the founder, had resigned late last month as managing director, although he remains on the board. Mr Harrington owns 40 per cent of the company's shares.

The stock price collapsed last year, following revelations of bad debts in the company's eastern European operations. The 1993 accounts had to be restated three times as the extent of the problems became clear. In the aftermath, the company's broker, Panmure Gordon, and its auditor, Ernst & Young, resigned.

Company management has strenuously denied accusations in the press of financial malpractice. The company is currently trading with the support of its bankers.

The company, which publishes magazines on its own behalf and for third parties, lost more than pounds 1m in 1993, and a further pounds 1.3m in the first half of 1994. At the half-year, the company said it expected to be able to make up the losses in the second half, and to lower gearing to "an acceptable level", particularly through higher margins and the results of a new push into the conference market.

However, the conference division continued to lose money well into the second half of 1994, and was subsequently wound up. Several international publications were closed down. Publishing contracts with third parties were meant to replace the revenues from some of these core publications.

Despite these moves, the company is expected to have posted a substantial loss for the full year.

The shares were suspended at 301/2p, down 11/2p on early morning trading.