UPDATE 1-Italy’s market watchdog alleges irregularities by CHL management, suspends shares

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MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s market watchdog said on Friday it had decided to temporarily suspend from trading the shares of information technology and e-commerce service provider CHL (CHL.MI) over allegations of serious irregularities and possible market abuse.

Consob said the alleged irregularities related to information about the company’s economic and financial situation that CHL’s top management had provided to investors.

“Anomalies emerged during checks, which are still ongoing, indicating numerous and serious elements of irregularity relating to the activities carried out by the company’s top executives,” the watchdog said in a statement.

It added that information provided by the company “did not guarantee transparency, an orderly trading of its stock and the protection of investors.”

CHL, which with a market capitalization of just 6.8 million euros ($7.5 million) is a relative minnow on the Milan bourse, did not immediately respond to phone calls and an emailed request for comment from Reuters.

Listed in 2000 just before the dot-com bubble burst, the Florence-based company raised 1.5 million euros of new capital in July. Presenting a new business plan to 2023 last month, it warned there were “substantial uncertainties” over its ability to remain in business.

CHL is in the process of buying Polish-based Airtime Sp.Zo.o, Romanian-based Prime Exchange Technologies, and Irish-based Rubelite, with the aim of closing the deals by Dec. 31. A shareholder meeting is scheduled for Dec. 20 to approve a further 6.7 million euro capital increase.

CHL, which posted a 2.1 million euro loss in the first half of this year, has also agreed to buy a stake of at least 51% in Italian utility Aplos for up to 2.4 million euros..

Reporting by Andrea Mandala, writing by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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