Wickes' mystery continues

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The Independent Online
Wickes, the troubled DIY group, is set to miss its self-imposed deadline set last month when the board said it would write to shareholders in September explaining how it over-stated profits by pounds 50m. It is understood that the new chairman, Michael von Brentano, will not be able to communicate with shareholders until next month.

The company is still in discussions with suppliers over what happened. Legal difficulties over naming who was responsible are adding to the delays.

The board has seen early drafts prepared by Price Waterhouse and the solicitors Linklaters & Paines but wrangles over the wording of the statement has held back publication.

Wickes' shares were suspended in June when details of the accounting irregularities first came to light. The company is facing a possible pounds 30m rights issue before the shares resume trading. This is unlikely to happen before November.

The company is also seeking a new chief executive to replace its executive chairman Henry Sweetbaum, who stepped down in June. John Napier, the former WH Smith finance director, was appointed a non-executive director of Wickes earlier this month. This fuelled speculation that he might take over as non-executive chairman. Bill Hoskins, the former Laporte finance director, has joined Wickes in the finance role.

Wickes is likely to be a takeover target once the holes in its financial position has been secured.