Technology/Softworld – QSP shares suspended.

Shares in troubled financial software vendor QSP have been suspended from the London Stock Exchange at the request of the company board, writes Alex Miller.

A spokesman for the company said the tragic events in the US last month and the slow market conditions over the last 12 months had caused the surprise move.

Chairman John Bateman, speaking as the company released its interim results for the six months ended 30 June, said: ‘The challenging trading conditions that prevailed through 2000 have continued into 2001, causing deferrals in software licence sales in all operations, particularly in our main UK market.

‘This position has significantly deteriorated as a result of recent economic and political uncertainty, which further impacts key vertical markets such as the airline sector, where recent deferral values in this sector alone total almost #3m.’

He added: ‘This additional uncertainty in global markets at this time indicates we are unlikely to meet current market expectations for the full year.’

Staff were told by chief executive Jonathan Airey that QSP is not in receivership. In an internal memo, he said: ‘Our main objective is to develop QSP by securing long-term finance through a rights issue. We already have commitment from existing and additional shareholders to achieve this.

He added: ‘To bridge the time gap between today and putting the rights issue in place, we require short-term finance from the bank. Supported by our revised business plan, the bank, investors and QSP are in discussions focused on delivering the rights issue in the shortest possible timeframe.’

Turnover for the period fell to #14.5m from #19.7m at the same time last year, operating losses increased to #5.6m from #2.7m in 2000 and loss before taxation increased to #6.2m from #3m. Meanwhile, staff numbers have fallen by 155 to 495 compared to last year and net debt has doubled to #15.8m.

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