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Ascom denies credit rumour as stock falls

Ascom denies rumours Keystone Archive

In an effort to stem a sharp drop in its share price Bern-based technology group Ascom denied a market rumour that a bank had revoked a credit line.

Ascom’s shares, already near historic lows amid investor worries about the state of its finances and the ongoing restructuring, had dropped 33 per cent on rumours about the group’s financial situation, and more particularly, that a bank had stopped a credit line.

“Normally we do not comment on market rumours,” chief spokesman Stepah Howeg said. “But in order to ensure normality in our business I can tell you that these rumours lack any foundation.”

A fund manager at a Swiss investment bank said the share was down because of rumours about the cancellation of a credit line and another rumour that a hedge fund was selling the stock.

Following the denial Ascom’s shares were 29 per cent lower closing at SFr16.00 after setting a historic low of SFr15.00 earlier in the session.

Turnover was 57 million shares. During 2001, Ascom shares plunged 72.4 per cent and they lost another 22 per cent already this year up to Monday’s close. Its high stands at SFr300 in February 2000, when independent banker Ernst Mueller-Mohl was campaigning for a single-share structure and a seat on the supervisory board.

Return to profit in 2002

Asom chief executive Urs Fischer said in December he expected a return to profit in 2002 after an expected loss of more than SFr100 million for 2001.

Fischer has been in charge since February 2001 after a top management shuffle followed a power clash between old owners and Mueller-Mohl who campaigned for shareholder value.

Last week, Ascom announced the sale of its carrier access unit. The group has divested four business units since the appointment of Fischer, selling the cash handling, terminals and mailing systems units.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR