Quindell breaks with past to appoint new CEO and adviser Indro Mukerjee

Outsourcer still faces SFO inquiry and accounting probes after 18 months of chaos

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The Independent Online

The controversial outsourcer Quindell attempted to put an era of scandal behind it as the business ousted its City adviser and appointed a new chief executive.

Quindell has been on the ropes for nearly 18 months amid attacks by short-sellers, investigations into its accounting practices and, most recently, a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

The new chief executive is Indro Mukerjee, the non-executive chairman of the tech group FlexEnable. He replaces Robert Fielding, who left in May.

The company’s founder, Rob Terry, was forced to resign last year after taking part in an opaque share-buying arrangement under which it originally appeared that he and two other directors had increased their holdings. It later emerged that their stakes had in effect been reduced due to a sale-and-repurchase agreement.

Cenkos has been the AIM-listed company’s nominated adviser or “nomad” for more than three years, responsible for assessing the suitability of businesses as a listed company and advising them, as well as satisfying itself that information provided to investors is “correct, complete and not misleading”.

But the transparency of Quindell’s dealings with the City was called into question last year over the share-selling scandal, as well as the company’s handling of the resignation of its joint broker Canaccord Genuity. At the height of the storm last autumn Quindell failed to reveal Canaccord’s resignation to the market for nearly a month, sparking incredulity and outrage among investors.

Its chairman, Richard Rose, is understood to have worked with the new nomad, Peel Hunt, at other companies.

A Cenkos spokesman said: “We have worked through thick and thin for Quindell, with both current and previous management, for the last three and a half years.

“We undertook to see the new board through to publication of the 2014 accounts and, having achieved this, we believe it is now appropriate to hand over the broking and nomad role to a new party.

“We have reached this decision amicably with Quindell and part on good terms.”

Those restated accounts, released earlier this month,  revealed a £238m loss for 2014. Its 2013 and 2014 accounts are already being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority alongside the SFO investigation.

The short-seller hedge fund Gotham City first questioned Quindell’s accounts in a devastating note in April last year when it labelled the company “a country club built on quicksand”. Shares in Quindell have since fallen by more than 80 per cent.

The criminal investigation is likely to be at the top of Mr Mukerjee’s in-tray when he joins in two weeks’ time. Mr Mukerjee, who was pictured with David Cameron during the general election campaign, has a background in technology, electronics and engineering.

He said yesterday: “I’m of course aware of the challenges the company has been facing and respect the chairman, board and rest of the team for the way that they have been identifying the issues of the past, and dealing with them resolutely and rapidly.”

Mr Fielding left under the terms of the £637m sale of Quindell’s legal division.

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