Velocys shares slump as it suspends CEO Roy Lipski


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Velocys, the energy company backed by the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich, has suspended its chief executive Roy Lipski over “allegations of serious misconduct”.

Shares in Velocys, whose technology converts natural gas or biomass into products such as diesel and jet fuel, plunged 19 per cent on the news.

The company said Mr Lipski would be replaced by the chief financial officer, Susan Robertson, until further notice.

Mr Abramovich’s Ervington Investment vehicle has been steadily buying up shares in Velocys for the past year and lifted its stake to 21.3 per cent a month ago.

The company stressed that “the allegations do not involve any element of fraud or financial impropriety” and that trading was in line with expectations, but the shares ended the day 22.25p lower at 92.75p. The fall put a tiny pinprick in the billionaire’s fortune as the value of his stake fell by £6.7m.

Mr Lipski earned £943,262 last year.

Velocys said: “[His] suspension does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption whatsoever that he is guilty of any misconduct. The board will keep his suspension under review and will aim to make the period of suspension no longer than is reasonably necessary.”

Shares in the company have fallen by more than a quarter since June, when the influential fund manager Neil Woodford said he was selling his stake. Mr Woodford cited worries about growing competition, noting: “Our conviction in the company’s ability to fulfil its potential has diminished, as we now fear that other technologies may overtake it.”