The shares sank nearly 8%, or 103p, to 1285p as Ultra admitted it was the subject of a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
The focus of its probe, which was uncovered and reported to the SFO by the company itself, is “suspected corruption in the conduct of business in Algeria by Ultra, its subsidiaries, employees and associated persons”.
Due to the early stage of the SFO investigation Ultra said it was “not possible to estimate reliably” the potential impact. The corruption probe comes after a nightmare run for the company, which sacked its chief executive Rakesh Sharma last year and cited squeezed defence budgets for a major profits warning.
Ultra appointed Simon Pryce, the former boss of BBA Aviation, as its chief executive last month on a potential £2.7 million package.
Ultra has little presence in Algeria. Alongside defence, Ultra works in cyber-security and provides sensors used in nuclear reactors as well as IT in airport security. It is understood the issues relate to “support services contracts in the civil arena”, whereby Ultra’s products were sold in Algeria via a third party. The SFO declined to comment.