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Baltimore Technologies, which last week lost its chief executive Fran Rooney, has been forced to deny it is talking to potential suitors for the second time in just four days.

Reports in the Sunday Times suggested that Baltimore was in advanced talks with Computer Associates, which ironically is in the process of defending itself against a hostile bid by Texan billionaire, Sam Wyly.

Baltimore dismissed these reports as speculation and said its management were focused on implementing an upcoming restructuring of its business in order to cope with dwindling cash reserves.

In a written statement, Baltimore said: "The Company confirms it is not in advanced take over discussions with Computer Associates or any other company."

The Irish firm didn't go so far as to rule out the possibility of talks, however.

"Whilst the Board of Baltimore Technologies would consider any option that would be in the best interests of shareholders, the focus of the Board and senior management team of the company at this time is on delivering the restructuring plan," it added.

As previously reported, last Thursday Baltimore was approached by privately held security firm Chantilley Corporation, a firm numbering just 20 employees and with only a reported £2,500 cash in the bank. Chantilley got upset about our description of it as a 'nobby nobody' firm and our decision to take its assertion that "there is no doubt that Chantilley's technology will become the future security standard", with a large pinch of salt.

Mike Downey Chantilley's Finance Director said I'd have to eat my hat when it proved us wrong, and I'm ready to put my baseball cap and stomach on the line for this purpose. But we digress.

This May, Baltimore announced that it would shed 250 jobs in a move that means that almost one in five of its 1,200 workers would be shown the door. More job cuts will come as a result of the forthcoming restructuring, which is designed to save Baltimore £14 million a year.

Baltimore has been particularly hard hit by the downturn in the tech sector, which has been accompanied by disappointing sales.

Because of this the market capitalisation of Baltimore has collapsed from £5.1 billion last year to £360 million. Industry watchers estimate that Baltimore does not have enough cash reserves to see it through to profitability in 2003 and have suggested it needs to either conduct a rights issue or find a trade buyer. ®

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