Wilson HTM chief resigns following buyout proposal
The managing director of stockbroker Wilson HTM, Andrew Coppin, has resigned despite an investigation into "inappropriate behaviour" failing to support allegations against him made by two former female staff.
Separately, it was revealed on Tuesday night Mr Coppin had an interest in acquiring the listed broker, prompting the board to decide it was not appropriate for him to continue running the company.
In April, Wilson's board announced an internal investigation into the claims against Mr Coppin, who has denied the allegations and was co-operating with the board and its advisers.
After being placed in a trading halt on Monday, the company told the market on Tuesday night an independent inquiry had not backed up the claims.
However, it also revealed Mr Coppin had expressed interest in proposing a buyout for the company. "The board and Mr Coppin have agreed it is not appropriate for him to pursue any potential buyout while remaining managing director," the company said in a statement.
"Accordingly, Mr Coppin has resigned to avoid a potential conflict of interest, with his resignation effective immediately."
In Mr Coppin's place, the board appointed Sandy Grant as acting chief executive, the head of priority funds, who joined Wilson in 1992 and has previously been a director.
Chairman Steven Skala said: "Sandy Grant is a respected leader in our business with a breadth of experience." The board said it had not yet received a proposal from Mr Coppin.
The change comes after Wilson has been battered by industry-wide trends squeezing stockbroking profits through lower volumes and skinnier profit margins.
The company's statement said Mr Coppin's time as managing director - he was appointed in late 2011 - had coincided with a "challenging period" for the industry that had prompted the firm to undergo substantial restructuring to improve its financial performance.
Before the trading halt earlier this week, Wilson's share price was 18.5¢, giving it a market value of $19 million.