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Cupid's shares fall close to 2010 level

SHARES in internet dating company Cupid have retreated towards the 60p price they listed on the stock exchange three years ago after the Edinburgh-based group came under renewed attack from short sellers.

Meanwhile, the company's annual report has revealed chief executive Bill Dobbie saw his pay rise 165.5% last year to £597,500.

Shares in the operator of sites including UniformDating.com fell as much as 6% yesterday but recovered ground to close at 65.6p, a 1.75p or 2.6% fall on the day.

They are now down 16.3% since the start of May.

Shares in the AIM-listed company have been under pressure since allegations concerning its tactics first emerged in January.

The shares listed in June 2010 at 60p and by mid-2011 had hit 250p.

According to filings published by the Financial Conduct Authority, London-based hedge fund manager Ennismore Fund Management has renewed its bet against the firm with a short position equivalent to 2.4% of Cupid's shares, having closed a previous position in March.

Cupid, which has operations in Ukraine, reported Mr Dobbie's pay for last year included a £347,500 bonus.

Cupid's pre-tax profit rose 31% to £9.2m in 2012.

The Kyiv Post newspaper of Ukraine claimed Cupid employs "motivation managers" to entice visitors to its websites to spend more on subscriptions.

The BBC previously alleged customers were lured into subscribing after receiving messages from users who later disappeared.

Cupid has strenuously denied these allegations.

Asked about the share price drop, a Cupid spokesman said: "It is not appropriate for a company to comment on its share price."

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