View from City Road: Inquiry delay unfair to Suter

MESSAGE to Michael Heseltine from David Abell: pull your finger out, Mr President. It is now more than four years since the Department of Trade and Industry began its investigation into Mr Abell's share dealings. As is often the way, the inquiry has yet to bear any visible fruit.

A cloud of suspicion continues to dog Suter, Mr Abell's refrigerators-to- chemicals group. Since inspectors were appointed one day in July 1988, shares in Suter have lost more than half their value while the FT-SE 100 has, even at its present depressed level, risen by 25 per cent.

The continuing uncertainty is unfair to Mr Abell and to Suter's other 7,000-odd shareholders. How long does it take to investigate a few insider dealing allegations?

There is a danger that the cause for concern will be long forgotten by the time the inspectors' report is published. There is no obvious reason for delaying publication. Such leaks as there have been suggest the inspectors will criticise Mr Abell but stop short of recommending prosecutions.

Perhaps the DTI has forgotten about Suter amid its numerous changes of Secretary of State. While the matter may be of no great importance alongside Mr Heseltine's plans for a bold new industrial strategy, Suter is entitled to have it cleared up.

The DTI is not solely to blame for Suter's problems, of course. Profits have fallen in each of the past three years from pounds 39m in 1988 to pounds 17.8m last year.

Yesterday's interims show the group stemming the decline, with pre-tax profits rising by pounds 200,000 to pounds 9.4m thanks to a reduced interest charge. Trading is patchy - sales of refrigeration equipment to supermarkets have slipped, and the crisis in the building industry has further weakened demand for air conditioning. Chemicals was the only division to record increased profits.

Borrowings remain high, effectively restricting any ambitions Mr Abell might have for Hartons, the troubled plastics group where he took over quietly as chairman recently. Suter has a 23 per cent stake which 'speaks for itself', according to Suter's finance director.

A maintained 3.2p interim dividend and the forecast of an unchanged final provide a healthy yield. But there is little else to go for until the DTI makes its intentions known.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Liquidity Reporting-Basel III-LCR-Bank-£400/day

£400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Liquidity Reporting - Basel III - LCR - Ba...

Investment Manager – Media and Entertainment

Up to £50,000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Sauce Recruitment: We are repre...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz