Tiphook requests share fall inquiry: Accounting change announced early

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The Independent Online
TIPHOOK, the container and trailer rental company dogged by controversy, has called upon the Stock Exchange to investigate the latest plunge in its share price - caused, it believes, by unscrupulous City speculators.

Tiphook's shares dropped 50p to 278p yesterday, prompting the group to make a premature announcement about an important accounting change that it had planned to report along with its results next week. The adoption of US accounting principles could push the group into loss, according to Mark McVicar of NatWest Securities.

A Tiphook spokeswoman said: 'We are extremely unhappy that three days before a results announcement there seems to be something funny going on with our share price. Following the problems with our (April) profits warning, we have kept the information extremely tight.'

She said the company was asking the Stock Exchange to step in to prevent smaller companies being left at the mercy of 'bears' dealing on rumours to push the share price down.

She added: 'It's absolutely crazy that we can't be left to put information out in an orderly manner. The Stock Exchange has got to do something about it. We are powerless to see how it happened.'

The exchange's investigation into the April price collapse - when Tiphook shares fell as low as 170p - seems to have come to nothing. Some senior City figures are anxious about the lack of action against suspicious share price movements.

One said: 'There seems to have been another leak. There are people so close to this company who are brazen in the belief that they can get away with it.'

Tiphook's spokeswoman suggested the shares may have been driven down by false rumours, pointing out that they recovered to 288p after the statement on the accounting changes.

Mr McVicar could not understand why news of the accounting changes alone should have produced such a large share price fall. Tiphook already produces a separate profits report under US guidelines to allow its US bond issues and its American depositary receipt programme.

One big shareholder said it did not expect any surprises next week - including no changes to Tiphook's highly paid management.