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Micro Focus chairman nets £11.6m after selling half his shares for 'personal reasons'

Hannah Boland
Micro Focus last week said there was still a 'complex and significant programme of work' to absorb HP's software division - Bloomberg

The executive chairman of one of Britain's largest listed technology companies Micro Focus has pocketed almost £12m after slashing his stake in the business by half for "personal financial reasons". 

Kevin Loosemore, who has held the chairman post since 2011, sold 650,000 Micro Focus shares in two tranches last Wednesday and Thursday at a discount to the company's share price, netting him £11.6m. 

The sale at the lower price had caused Micro Focus's share price to fall almost 16pc last week. Shares continued to slip on Monday as news of the disposal emerged, amid concerns over why Mr Loosemore had chosen to sell now. 

The chairman, however, suggested his decision was not to do with the performance of the company, but instead said that it was "time for me to diversify a little", having recently turned 60. 

"Until now, all of my assets have been held in Micro Focus shares," he said. "As executive chairman, I remain committed to the business as we continue to execute our established business model. Micro Focus has tremendous opportunity to prosper and to increase value and I will continue to work to deliver that.”  

Despite the assurances, the move is likely to raise eyebrows given the difficulties Micro Focus has faced over the past year.

Micro Focus sells software to banks and retailers which use legacy IT systems. Its business model involves acquiring companies whose margins it believes it can improve.

One of the biggest drags on its growth has been the integration of Hewlett Packard’s software division which it bought for £7bn in 2017. Micro Focus's business model involves it acquiring companies whose margins it believes it can improve. 

However, in its interim results last week, Micro Focus said there was still a “complex and significant programme of work” to absorb the business, which also contains the remnants of British software company Autonomy. In the six months to the end of April, it spent $136.9m (£110m) on the integration. 

It has also battled growing shareholder dissent over its performance, last year brushing off a vote against its plans to give bosses more time to win £270m in bonuses. 

The vote had been advisory, and so Micro Focus said it would continue to implement the changes. They meant more than 30 senior bosses would be given a further year, to September 2020, to get the company's share price up to £34. It currently sits at £16.83.