Evolution chairman edges out of the limelight

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The Independent Online

Evolution's executive chairman Richard Griffiths is to step back from the day-to-day running of the stockbroking firm, a week after its client Regal Petroleum suffered a steep drop in its stock which also dragged down Evolution shares.

Evolution's executive chairman Richard Griffiths is to step back from the day-to-day running of the stockbroking firm, a week after its client Regal Petroleum suffered a steep drop in its stock which also dragged down Evolution shares.

Mr Griffiths, who received a bumper pay rise last year to £3m, is to become the firm's president, focusing on key client relationships, and will report to the group's chief executive Alex Snow. He will remain an executive director.

Martin Gray, a former director of NatWest Bank with more than 40 years' experience in financial services, has been appointed as non-executive chairman with immediate effect.

Evolution's client Regal, an oil and gas explorer, lost 60 per cent of its stock market value on Wednesday last week after it told the City that one of its crucial oil prospects in Greece was non-commercial. The incident raised new questions over Evolution, which handled a £45m fundraising for Regal in April.

The firm has been seeking to rebuild its reputation since last year, when several of its flotations issued profit warnings only months after listing on the stock market. Evolution was also fined £500,000 for market abuse for short selling shares in Room Service Group in 2003.

Evolution announced the management changes at its annual meeting yesterday. It gave an upbeat outlook for the year: "The board remains confident of the outlook for the group for the remainder of the year." It defended the placing that it had carried out for Regal. "We can confirm that Evolution, along with its lawyers, followed all necessary regulatory and statutory procedures to ensure that the placing with shareholders was carried out in full compliance with the Alternative Investment Market rules," the firm said.

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