Nerves are beginning to jangle ever so slightly around the Square Mile about the lack of a finance director at Bovis Homes
The company is remaining tight-lipped, but the word is that the housebuilder was due to have a replacement for Neil Cooper lined up by the time of its annual meeting on 6 May. It didn’t, and the company is currently operating without a financial chief.
According to a couple of City sources, a deal with Cooper’s replacement was pretty much in the bag, but fell through at the eleventh hour for unexplained reasons.
There isn’t necessarily anything sinister in that, but a broker’s note from JP Morgan this week underlined the problem. Analyst Anthony Codling said: “The group is currently operating without the benefit of a finance director, which, in our view, adds to the … risk.”
Another analyst added: “I’m sure they can go for a month or so without it being a problem, but if it drags on for too long it will become an issue.”
Given that David Ritchie, the Bovis chief executive, was the finance director until a couple of years ago, there is probably no need to press the panic button just yet, but as the analysts point out: “What the company won’t want is to have to make an internal promotion in a couple of months, because it wouldn’t say a lot about how successful it had been in attracting an outside candidate.”
Elsewhere, Telford Homes confirmed what it has been telling the market: in the year to 31 March 2010, turnover at the east London regeneration specialist was up from £107m to £159m, pre-tax profit rose from £7.3m to £8.1m and completions nudged up from 350 to 389. It share price has risen 20% over the past two months.
That news may catch the eye of the headhunter looking for executives to take on the Bovis job. When asked on Wednesday if he’d been approached, Telford finance director John Di-Stefano laughed and said “no”.
The hunt goes on.