Iceland -

Gordon

Junior member
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Posted at request of BB:

31Jan2001 15:57

FSA investigation raises fears of public censure for Iceland Group

LONDON (AFX) - Chief executive Bill Grimsey's admission that Iceland Group
PLC is under investigation by the Financial Services Authority has raised fears
that the grocer could face an embarrassing public censure.

Grimsey, who only took the helm at Iceland on Jan 2, confirmed earlier that
the group has been contacted by the regulator regarding controversial share
dealings by Malcolm Walker, who resigned as chairman this morning.

"They asked the company questions and we responded accordingly," he told AFX
News.

In accordance with its rules, the FSA neither confirmed nor denied it has
begun an investigation into the share dealings of Malcolm Walker.

An FSA spokesman said any investigation into directors' share dealings would
normally focus specifically on three of the regulators' listing rules.

First, no director can deal if he or she is in possession of price-sensitive
information.

Second, if he or she wants to sell, then permission from the board is
required and third, if anyone on the board has any price-sensitive information
that may require a public announcement, then the board should not give
permission.

If the FSA begins an investigation into a public company and finds it
breaching the third rule, then it can issue a private or public censure, the
spokesman said.

On Dec 20, Walker sold some 4 mln shares at 339 pence a share, just after
the company's five-year high of 346 pence, and a few weeks before the group
issued a brace of profit warnings related to disappointing organic food sales
and worse-than-expected synergy gains from the merger last June with Booker PLC.

Iceland shares are now trading at 155 pence.

Walker, who had taken on the role of executive chairman following former
chief executive Stuart Rose's departure to Arcadia Group PLC on Nov 13, has
already said he asked for the board's permission for his share sale.

From July, the FSA will have the power to fine directors and ex-directors,
as well as an individual company, for any breaching of the listing rules related
to share dealings under the Financial Services and Markets Act.

pp/cw







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