De La Rue shares surge on deal to print new banknotes for post-Saddam Iraq

De La Rue, the largest non-governmental printer of bank notes in the world, yesterday announced it would be part of a consortium of companies which would produce new bank notes for Iraq. The move comes after the US-led civil administration of the country made it one of their goals to scrap the so-called "Saddam dinars" which the Iraqi dictator introduced when he came to power and which bear his image on the notes.

The new currency which De La Rue and several other companies will produce for circulation in October will be based on an older form of the currency, known as the "Swiss" dinar, which are currently used it Kurdish controlled parts of the country.

De La Rue said it was at a very early stage of negotiations with the civil authority in Iraq, with details such as whose image would appear on the new notes yet to be decided. The company is expected to win the bulk of the business of printing the new notes, though it has not yet signed a formal contract to do so. The announcement sent De La Rue's shares up 9 per cent to 257.5p. One analyst said: "It is very difficult to assess the value of the deal at this stage, but the market has reacted positively because it is just nice to have some good news coming out of the company."

De La Rue slumped to a £4.7m loss in the year to March, after it warned that orders for its cash machines and other sorting equipment had fallen at a time when contracts for printing euro notes had also dried up.

Paul Bremer, the head of the interim civil administration in Iraq, said the new currency would be exchanged at parity with dinars.

Contenders who might take Saddam's place on Iraq's notes include Saladin, the Kurdish commander who drove the Crusaders out of Palestine in the 13th century, and Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian Emperor.

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