Incompetence rather than fraud, was blamed by publishing group Future Network for an overstatement of operating profits exceeding £4 million by its French subsidiary, Future France.

Following an investigation of the French offshoot by accountants Deloitte & Touche, sales and operating profits were found to have been falsely inflated by over £4m. However, according to Future’s chief executive Greg Ingham, the UK business is untainted by similar problems.

News of the debacle blighted a separate announcement by the company that it had secured the UK and international rights to publish the official magazine for Microsoft’s new games console Xbox.

Both announcements caused Future Network’s shares to yo-yo. News of the profits overstatement triggered a 24% price plummet from 585.5p to 447.5p; while the Microsoft deal yesterday caused a minor 3.5p rally to 438.5p – less than half the peak of 926p earlier this year.

News source: The Times (London)