Owners finance chief 'to quit'

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GEOFFREY STONE, finance director of the troubled travel group Owners Abroad, is set to resign from the board, making him the third leading director to leave since the company's surprise profits warning in July, writes Jason Nisse.

A spokesman for Owners refused to comment on the likelihood of Mr Stone's resignation, but it is understood that the accountant, who has been finance director for the past seven years, will step down in the next few days.

Howard Klein, the group's chairman, and Roger Allard, managing director, resigned in July when the group admitted it would not be able to meet profit estimates on which the market had based its decision not to accept Airtours' pounds 300m bid earlier this year.

Owners blamed a fall-off in demand for holidays in destinations such as Greece and Cyprus for the disappointing figures, and the Takeover Panel has since cleared Owners and its advisers, Samuel Montagu, of any suggestion that it misled the market.

Mr Stone's departure comes against the background of industry speculation that Owners is about to launch a rights issue to refinance the group.