Swiss deny Harland investment

A SWISS company which, according to loss-making Harland Simon, provided pounds 2.45m for investment in Harland's off-balance-sheet associate company yesterday denied it was involved in any such investment, writes Paul Durman.

Hans-Pieter Strodel, of Oerlikon-Contraves, a division of Oerlikon-Buhrle, said: 'We sold five (Contraves) companies and that is it. We did not make any investment in any company.'

Dr Strodel said it was 'not correct' that Oerlikon-Buhrle had 'made available' pounds 2.45m for investment in Perfect Information as stated in Harland's circular to shareholders last October.

Harland said the contract of its agreement with Oerlikon-Buhrle was with its solicitors. A spokesman did not know why Dr Strodel should deny the investment.

Uncertainties over the investment in Perfect prompted Price Waterhouse to qualify Harland's latest accounts. The auditors were unable to verify who beneficially owned shares in Perfect that Harland has said were bought with pounds 2.45m from Oerlikon.

Harland, a control systems supplier, has provided substantial financial support to Perfect, an on-line news-cutting service. Perfect has spent much of its resources buying equipment from Harland.

According to the auditors' qualification, if Perfect's results had been consolidated with Harland's, the group's 1991 profit would have been up to pounds 2m lower.

Large Harland shareholders will meet Price Waterhouse and Hambros Bank, the company's advisers, this week to discuss its figures.