September 4, 2017 / 1:44 PM / in 3 months

UK-listed BNN Technology suspends shares after CFO's allegations

LONDON (Reuters) - A company which helps European soccer clubs promote themselves in China on mobile phones has asked for trading in its shares on London’s Alternative Investment Market to be suspended while it investigates “serious allegations” against two top executives.

BNN Technology (BNN.L), which says it has partnerships with a number of soccer clubs, including Manchester City, Barcelona and Arsenal, said in a statement on Monday its chief financial officer, Scott Kennedy, had resigned, making a number of allegations against Chief Executive Darren Mercer and Chief Operating Officer Wei Qi.

The company said a committee of board members has suspended Mercer and Qi while it investigates the allegations. Mercer and QI could not immediately be reached for comment.

“The decision to suspend two of our senior team was not taken lightly and should not be taken as an assessment of the validity, or otherwise, of these allegations,” Chairman Harry Keiley said in the statement.

“However, given the serious nature of these allegations and the source from which they have come, the independent committee feels it has no choice but to suspend the relevant individuals at this time.”

BNN Technology declined to comment further on the nature of the allegations and said trading in the shares would remain suspended, “pending the appointment of suitable executive management to oversee the company’s operations, particularly those in China, whether interim or permanent.”

The suspension comes amid increased scrutiny of companies who are listed on AIM which have Chinese operations. (reut.rs/2wyfuTB)

    The company originally listed on AIM as a gambling business in 2014, changing to become a provider of technology for online and mobile phone transactions after China banned the online sale of lottery products in March 2015, according to its website.

    It also now helps distribute news and runs competitions for fans of its client soccer clubs through a partnership with China's Xinhua News. bit.ly/2x4B0AL

    Shares in the firm last traded at 42p on Friday, down nearly 70 percent this year and valuing the company at just over 100 million pounds ($130 million).

    BNN raised 25 million pounds from investors in May, and reported a loss of 15.5 million pounds for the six months ending June 30 in its latest set of results.

    Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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