Auditors question validity of financial results

Shares in the in-flight catering and retail firm Alpha Airports have been suspended after its auditors questioned the validity of its financial results.

Alpha asked for a temporary suspension after PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) withdrew its approval of its full-year results published last month.

The firm said it was urgently seeking clarification of PwC’s concerns.

Alpha supplies food and retail services to more than 100 airlines and 70 airports, employing 6,900 staff.

Following PwC’s intervention, Middlesex-based Alpha is to delay the publication of its fully audited accounts for the past year while its annual general meeting for shareholders will also be put back.

PwC approved Alpha’s 2005-6 results before their publication on March 30 but told the firm on Monday that it was withdrawing its approval.

Alpha said PwC’s action was “in connection with enquiries by the auditors into a series of related transactions connected with a major contract awarded to the company during the financial year”.

Alpha said it could not give any further details but a spokesman said it hoped the matter would be sorted out as quickly as possible.

PwC said it could not comment on the issue, citing client confidentiality.

Earlier this year, Alpha revealed that it had been the victim of a £2.5m fraud, perpetrated in a number of European countries.

The firm has launched legal proceedings over the case and is conducting an internal investigation.

However, PwC’s action is unrelated to this case.

Alpha provides in-flight meals and shopping to a number of leading carriers including American Airlines, Malaysian Airlines and easyJet.

It also operates cafes, duty-free stores and souvenir outlets at most of the UK’s leading airports as well as airports in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

Alpha made a £18.4m profit last year on sales of £550m.

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