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The Jo Lernout Case

The Jo Lernout Case

The story of speech technology company l&h is common knowledge. Even those who never owned shares have a vivid recollection of the glory days of the wonder boys from ieper. Their success was unprecedented, the turnover and profit figures kept rising, companies all over the world were taken over by the enterprising jo lernout and paul hauspie, and the shareholders got rich in their sleep.

Unfortunately we also remember the calamity that followed. It started with reports about fraud that were initially brushed off by management, but when things went from bad to worse, their position became untenable. The golden shares plummeted amid a tide of accusations and became worthless overnight. The pride of the westhoek went belly up and the police and the world press escorted the duo to prison.

Documentary maker luc haekens met jo lernout when filming a short report for ‘man bijt hond’ and became fascinated by his entrepreneurial spirit. The former leading entrepreneur now walked around cradling a toy guinea pig and believed guppi - the name he had given his latest creation - would put him back on top. He was aware the road to success was long and he was willing to let the camera document his comeback. Haekens and his team followed the businessman over the next few years, witnessing numerous ups and downs. Lernout puts his cards on the table and freely admits he is at his wits end sometimes but eventually his entrepreneurial drive spurs him on. It guides his actions. Forever searching for that illusive hole in the market.

 

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