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Wife link to AIM flops

The wife of well-known share promoter Reg Burr has emerged as a shareholder in Ellis & Partners, the broker to several companies that Mr Burr helped bring to the Alternative Investment Market and which subsequently failed to live up to profit forecasts.

Mrs Bernice Burr holds 4,400 shares, out of the 259,282 in issue - 1.7 per cent of the business.

Earlier last week, the company said it would not participate in flotations of start-up companies and would not make profit predictions after a series of companies it brought to the market subsequently issued profits warnings. Clive Mattock, a director of Ellis & Partners, called some of the flotations "a mistake", adding that the profit predictions were "ambitious with the benefit of hindsight".

The companies are publisher Rushmere Wynne, Sira Business Services, a contract cleaning operation, Pordum Foods and Lotteryking, a lottery ticket dis- tributor. All had either Mr Burr, or David Marks, a qualified accountant and financial adviser, or - in most cases - both men as major shareholders in the companies prior to flotation.

A spokesman for Ellis & Partners confirmed Mrs Burr was a shareholder but declined to comment further.

Ellis & Partners is itself no stranger to controversy. It had a problem with its regulator, the Securities and Futures Authority, shortly after it was established in 1990. In its 1991 report and accounts, auditor Touche Ross states: "The financial statements have been prepared on a going-concern basis. This basis may not be appropriate because the company has not been, and is not, in compliance with certain rules of the Securities and Futures Authority. The company is dependent on continuing authorisation from the SFA. Should such authorisation be withdrawn, adjustments would have to be made to reduce the value of assets to their recoverable amount." In other words, the company would have faced liquidation.

The auditor also said that because of these material concerns, payment of an interim preference dividend of pounds 3,000 may have contravened of Section 270 of the Companies Act. Separately, the SFA forced the firm to close down its Jersey office.

Another shareholder in Ellis & Partners, Max Lewinsohn, was disqualified from serving as a company director for seven years earlier last year. The High Court found he misled fellow directors at a financial services and property company which crashed in 1990.