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By Donia O'Loughlin | Published Aug 30, 2012

Lighthouse chair resigns following de-listing defeat

IFA firm Lighthouse Group has announced today (30 August) that David Hickey has resigned as executive chairman and director, following a shareholder defeat earlier this summer of plans to de-list from the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Hickey said it would be “appropriate” for him to step down following shareholders rejecting the board’s recent proposal to cancel its listing. The planned move was unanimously supported by the board and was defeated at the company’s general meeting in July 2012.

The board had sought a de-listing as it stated a belief that investors are increasingly reluctant to invest in or own independent advice firms ahead of the Retail Distribution Review, which meant the benefits of being listed have not applied to the company “for some considerable time”.

Following the shareholder rejection of the plans, Mr Hickey told FTAdviser that the arguments in favour of de-listing remained persuasive and that the ‘no’ vote would simply “make my life harder”.

Indicating that he would not be stepping down from the firm, he said then: “I haven’t heard any arguments that made any sense to me at all.

“Investor sentiment isn’t going to change because of a shareholder vote, but it doesn’t affect the operation of the company on a day to day basis.

“We will remain on Aim and the arguments haven’t gone away. It just makes my life harder.”

According to a statement from the firm, Mr Hickey notified the board following the meeting would be appropriate for him to step down, “logically” at the time of the release of the forthcoming 2012 interim statement.

However, this was brought forward amid concern that a process requiring a general meeting be held in the autumn to hold a shareholder vote on board composition would result in a prolonged period of uncertainty.

Richard Last, who has been a non-executive director of Lighthouse since 2007, has agreed to assume the role of non-executive chairman with immediate effect.

For 2011, Lighthouse reported some 600 advisers, revenues exceeding £60m, of which £18m was recurring, and operating profits of £1.6m.

Mr Hickey said: “My record at Lighthouse speaks for itself, and I leave the group in a strong financial and operational position. The current management team is very experienced and capable and I have no doubt that Lighthouse will continue to thrive.”

Mr Last added: “Lighthouse was transformed by [Mr Hickey], and under his direction and leadership it has become a significant and successful IFA business. We are sorry to lose him, particularly at this time, and wish to thank him for his considerable contribution to the group.”

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