De La Rue chair Loosemore quits amid criticism

The chairman of UK banknote and authentication specialist De La Rue, Kevin Loosemore, has resigned after months of pressure for him to step down by rebel investor Crystal Amber.

In a statement, De La Rue said Loosemore had decided to step down “to draw a line under recent speculation surrounding the leadership of the company,” noting that he will leave office on May 1.

The board of directors at De La Rue said it had started a recruitment process to find a successor, and that Pepyn Dinandt – who has been nominated by Crystal Amber – will be a candidate. A vote on the new chairman will be taken at an annual general meeting scheduled for July.

Loosemore’s departure comes despite receiving the support of 83 per cent of De La Rue shareholders at a special general meeting held in December, although that was a lower level than the near 98 per cent backing he got when re-elected to the role a few months earlier.

Crystal Amber had accused Loosemore of defamation, saying he had accused the group of attempting to manipulate De La Rue’s share price, but has been a strident critic of the company’s turnaround plan, claiming in a recent letter to shareholders that it had “failed by every measure.”

“The chairman has failed to hold management to account and protect shareholders’ interests,” it asserted, pointing to a 75 per cent decline in De La Rue’s share price since March 2021.

Loosemore’s exit also follows yet another profit warning from De La Rue last week, noting that demand for banknotes had fallen to its lowest ebb in 20 years and it is facing “a significant degree of uncertainty” in fiscal 2024.

For banknotes it said there were “encouraging signs” that the market is recovering, although the timing of that remains uncertain, while it expects the authentication business to exceed £100m ($124m) in sales for the first time in fiscal 2024.

That will be driven by tax authority contracts in Qatar, Bahrain and Oman and a big increase in demand for authentication features from the Australian passport programme, offset be weaker demand foir PC sales, which have hit its contract with Microsoft for security labels.

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