Olivetti threatens to sue former executive


OLIVETTI, the Italian information technology group, yesterday threatened to sue a former executive after his claim that the company's interim results were misleading prompted an inquiry by the stock market watchdog.

Olivetti's shares were suspended before trading began in Milan amid growing confusion and concern about the future of the group. On Tuesday, Mr Carlo De Benedetti resigned as chairman, followed by Mr Renzo Francesconi, director general in charge of finance, administration and auditing.

Mr Francesconi, who had only been with Olivetti for six weeks, said he disagreed with the way in which Olivetti's results for the first half of 1996 had been presented. In an interview published yesterday, Mr Francesconi claimed he had submitted different interim figures which painted a less flattering picture of the company's situation. Olivetti said Mr Francesconi's comments were "totally without foundation".

The half year results which showed a worse than expected operating loss of 80.8 billion lire (£32.9 million) and a pre tax loss, after provisions, of 440.2 billion lire were produced at the end of Tuesday's extraordinary board meeting. The meeting was the climax of a battle between Mr De Benedetti and Mr Caio over future strategy.