Revision sparks Harrington loss: Accounts torpedoed by pounds 3m Eastern European bad debt provision

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

SHARES in Harrington Kilbride, the publisher, ing company, halved in value yesterday after the company said a pounds 3m bad debt provision meant it had to revise its annual accounts, writes Robert Cole.

The provision relating to debts owed by clients based in Eastern Europe - will send means Harrington into losses of pounds 600,000 for 1993. lost money last year. Announcing preliminary results for the year to 31 December In March the company reported profits of pounds 2.4m. Harrington said it profits rose 30 per cent to pounds 2.4m. Revised The restated figures will show a loss of pounds 600,000.

The report and accounts for 1993 had been approved by the board and audited by the Harrington's accountant Ernst & Young. The document had not been sent to shareholders, however. Ernst & Young The accountants are re-auditing the accounts and the company will also commission an independent audit from another firm. to be performed by a firm of accountants to be appointed next week.

The company said the bad debt provision was set up was against business conducted by Ashburn Sellers, a wholly-owned subsidiary. Ashburn had been giving credit to East Europe based companies in Eastern Europe which took advertising space in its publications.

Kevin Harrington, the group chairman, said the extent of the problem only surfaced in April, after the preliminary results announcement. was made.

He Mr Harrington also said that the company's credit control procedures had been tightened in the wake of the problem, and that the company no longer extended credit was no longer extended to Eastern European clients.

Harrington Kilbride was listed on the Stock Exchange following a placing of shares in December 1991. The placing price was 120p and in September last year the Harrington Kilbride shares peaked at 250p.

The company's shares fell through below the flotation price for the first time yesterday, crashing 66p to close at 68p.