SFA investigates share price swings in Display IT

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JThe Securities and Futures Authority is looking at violent swings in the share price of Display IT, an on-line information company traded on OFEX, which plummeted 75p yesterday to 145p. The shares stood stood at 810p earlier this year.

The share price fall yesterday came just 48 hours after College Hill resigned as public relations advisers to Display IT. Alex Sandberg, head of College Hill, said yesterday that the decision had been taken because the company had refused to reveal who owned Alsina, a Luxembourg-based associate of Display IT.

"We asked Display IT for the information and we didn't get it. In the absence of that information, we were unable to act for them," said Mr Sandberg.

Display IT was launched by Peter Levin and four other directors to provide clients with existing on-line information from the likes of Reuters and other providers by accessing it over the Internet, at a fraction of the cost.

Yesterday the company issued a statement on the OFEX bulletin board saying that it expected to report its audited interim results for the period to 30 June 1997 "on or about 15 August." It said its results are currently being audited by Deloitte & Touche.

A spokesman for the SFA said yesterday: "We have been looking at movements in the price of Display IT stock. We have been talking to some participants in the market, including brokers. We wouldn't like to suggest at this stage whether [we have launched] any formal investigation. "We are at a very preliminary stage, we're deciding what's necessary."

When asked whether the SFA thought there had been a "concerted bear raid" on Display IT, the spokesman said: "We have to hold judgement until we get the information we need to make an assessement." "If there has been market manipulation - and I'm not suggesting that that is the case -then the SIB might be the ones to look into this."

Barry Hocken, a member of JP Jenkins, the broker that runs OFEX, said that Display IT's share price had plummeted because "it would appear to be a concerted bear raid by `Evel Knievel', who writes a column in one of the Sunday newspapers - he has been destroying the share price."

This was a reference to Simon Caulkwell, a well known share trader, who confirmed yesterday that he had a short position in Display IT shares.