Photo-me fined £500,000 for delaying tactic

PHOTO BOOTH operator Photo-Me has been slapped with a £500,000 fine after it delayed disclosing pertinent information to the market.

The City watchdog said this led to a false market in the FTSE Small Cap company shares for 44 days.

In the final three months of 2006, Photo-Me made a series of announcements which led the market to expect that it would benefit from the winning of large minilab sales contracts.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said these announcements were a key factor underpinning Photo-Me’s share price in the relevant period.

These were partly based on Photo-Me’s expectation that it would conclude a contract with US-based retailer Albertsons for the sale of 200 minilabs. However, it then emerged in January that the contract was being re-tendered and Photo-Me was one of at least five competitors for the business. In February, the group then sat on information that its January 2007 minilab sales had been 40 per cent behind budget.

The firm said: “While the company is disappointed with the quantum of the penalty it welcomes the fact that the FSA has not found that any directors or previous directors were at fault in this matter.”