WH Ireland boss doubles stake after revealing £11m loss

Trio of director dealings buoy shares on the back of ‘alarming’ FY results

WH Ireland’s senior executives have been upping their stakes in the business, pushing the beleaguered wealth manager’s share price up and offsetting news of an £11m loss.

On Wednesday, the same day as the company published its annual results, chief executive Phillip Wale purchased 25,000 shares in the 200-year old FTSE 250 wealth manager, almost doubling the number of shares he holds to 57,000 or 0.13% of the business, a regulatory filing shows.

The same day, finance director Phillip Tansey initiated a stake in the business, scooping up 18,000 shares, representing 0.04%. Tansey joined the firm in March 2019, replacing COO Paul Jones who jumped ship to become Rathbones’ chief of staff.

Additionally, ex-Goldmans banker Philip Shelley, whose appointment to the board is subject to approval by the Financial Conduct Authority, also initiated a 1.2% stake in WH Ireland, a bigger controlling stake than any of the company’s directors.

The trio’s purchases occurred on the same day WH Ireland revealed an “alarming” £11.3m loss in its yearly results despite management’s efforts to cut costs and return to profitability.

Shares in the group fell 12.5% from 40p to 35p as markets opened but were back up to 48p by close of day. WH Ireland has seen 59% wiped off its share price in the year since it issued a string of profit warnings and former boss Richard Killingbeck and head of wealth management Roddy Buchanan fled the business.

The fresh management team, led by Wale and including ex-Brewin man Stephen Ford, have been continuing to buy shares in the business and participate in the firm’s fundraising efforts as they take another crack at reviving the business.

Ford, who took over for Buchanan as WH Ireland’s head of wealth, purchased around 30,000 shares with his wife in June and now owns a stake worth £127,000 in the business.

Wale and Ford told Portfolio Adviser that the proceeds from the surprise £5m capital raise in March all went onto the balance sheet, leaving them with £7.7m in cash, which they said is enough to turn the business around by Q4 of 2019.

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