Southern Business director returns

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The Independent Online
SOUTHERN Business Group, the photocopier leasing company, has re-employed a former main board director who resigned in February to take responsibility for 'improprieties' by some sales staff. Neil Redding, formerly head of Benworth, an SBG subsidiary, rejoined the company last week.

According to Roger Limpenny, managing director, Mr Redding was 'a man of high principle who had resigned against the will of the company.' Three weeks ago he firmly denied that Mr Redding's return was imminent.

At that time Mr Limpenny admitted that Mr Redding was receiving monthly payments as part of a negotiated severance package. Yesterday he said that those payments would be treated as salary during what he described as the period of Mr Redding's 'suspension'.

Since Mr Redding's resignation he has had use of his company car and occasionally come into the office to help with certain contracts. In his new position he will head EBM, a subsidiary of Southern based in Sussex. He has not yet been reappointed to the main board.

The return of Mr Redding is the latest twist in a year of controversy for the company. In February, Southern's shares fell 17p to 113p after it admitted that six of its salesmen had acted fraudulently in order to inflate their commissions.

They tumbled a further 34p to 79p after a consumer group, the Campaign to Clean up Copier Contracts, called successfully for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the industry. They closed on Friday at 61p.