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Friday, June 25, 1999 Published at 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK

Business: Your Money

What's in a name?

Excited dealers tried to second-guess the exchange

Dealers will be clearing up the mess after a case of mistaken identity caused shares in a small listed company on the London Stock Market to soar.

All trading that took place on Thursday between 10:12AM and 10:50AM in shares of electronics company Delta have been declared void by the market's supervisors.

Member firms have been told to cancel all trades in Delta securities carried out in the intervening period.

An erroneous statement from the Exchange's regulatory news service (RNS) had identified the wrong company as being the target of a possible takeover bid.

Shares in Delta pushed ahead when the announcement that it had received a takeover approach flashed onto dealers' screens at shortly after 10am.

The mistake was quickly noticed but not before investors had piled into the stock with dealers claiming that more than a million shares had been traded.

Amazed staff at Delta - which is not in merger talks - spotted the announcement and contacted the exchange.


When the announcement was withdrawn, some traders - suspecting the exchange may have confused the name - promptly went for Deltron Electronics, the distributor, and Devro, the sausage-skin maker, pushing up their share prices.

[ image: Delta trades have been declared void]
Delta trades have been declared void
"Everyone was trying to guess what the stock was that the Stock Exchange had messed up on," said one market-maker.

Later the exchange issued a statement from financial services and software group DBS Management that it was in talks that may lead to an offer, saying the news replaced the earlier mistaken release on Delta.

DBS shares shot up 33%. Meanwhile it was easy come, easy go for Delta whose shares fell back to where they started the day.

Confusion over code word

The blunder is thought to have stemmed from the use of the word 'delta' as a code in a document sent from DBS to the exchange.

The affair is an embarrassment to the exchange, whose RNS electronic datafeed is relied on to disseminate price-sensitive information on British companies.

Mistakes in RNS content are rare and exchange officials could not recall a previous example of a company being wrongly named as a bid target.

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