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Lookers chairman and CEO re-elected but with no sign of accounts shares are set to be suspended tomorrow

Time 10 months ago

Lookers executive chairman Phil White and CEO Mark Raban were re-elected at the troubled dealer group’s AGM yesterday – but it looks likely shares will be suspended in the group tomorrow.

Lookers had until today to reveal its financial results for 2019 but a fraud investigation has deepened and thrown that off course.

At the AGM yesterday, non executive directors Sally Cabrini and Richard Walker both stood down from the board.

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They had stood for election in the original AGM calling notice, issued on June 4 – but changed their mind and just 20 days later it was announced they would be stepping back.

Cabrini was chair of the company’s renumeration committee and Walker was a senior independent non-exec and also a member of the renumeration committee.

It is not known why they both changed their mind.

Before the AGM yesterday, Lookers updated the Stock Market with further information on its fraud enquiry and admitted a further ‘accounting adjustment’ would need to be made of £15m.

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In total, Lookers has now adjusted its profit by £19m and admitted the ‘full impact’ on the business is not yet known.

Lookers, the second biggest dealer group in the UK by revenue, also says it will need to ‘strengthen’ some of its financial controls.

With no accounts published for last year, shares are set to be suspended tomorrow morning at 7am.

In a statement issued on June 9, Lookers said: ‘After consultation with the FCA, if the 2019 results are not published by June 30 the company anticipates that trading in the company’s shares will be temporarily suspended with effect from 7am on July 1 until publication of the 2019 results.

‘The company’s priority and focus is the production of the 2019 results at the earliest possible date and by no later than the end of August 2020.’

Tony Bramall was re-elected at the AGM yesterday for his final year with the business after signalling his intention to depart earlier this month after next year’s AGM.

Lookers is reeling from a series of problems. The fraud investigation has only been seen in draft form by the company and led to yesterday’s further profit hit.

Its auditors Deloitte have said they will resign and Car Dealer Magazine previously reported the dealer group is in crunch talks with a consortium of banks over its future.

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It’s likely Lookers could be swallowed up by a rival dealer in the UK or an investor from abroad but all will want to ‘look under the hood’, as one investor put it.

Until the full extent of the situation is laid bare and the profit numbers are revealed for 2019, few buyers would take the risk just yet.

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James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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