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blur group finance chief leaves to face bankruptcy hearing

A PERSONAL bankruptcy hearing today has seen the group CFO of online business marketplace blur leave after just eight months in the role.

Stephen Harveys departure marks a triple whammy for the Exeter-based business, which has now lost its third finance chief in two years.

In a statement to the stockmarket, blur Group said the former Microsoft UK man “has stepped down from his non-board position as group chief financial officer with immediate effect ahead of a personal bankruptcy hearing due to be held on 18 May 2015. This is a personal matter wholly unrelated to the group”.

Harvey has spent 20 years in the software sector, leaving the technology giant in 2004 to become CFO of messaging company Acision, following its spin out from Logica. He was widely tipped to join blur’s board.

The company said: “As part of the group’s push towards profitability blur made a number of senior management appointments on 1st April 2015 including Helen Blackmore as co-chief operating officer, responsible for integrating internal operations Helen will continue to strengthen the finance function with James Porter, blur’s current group financial controller.

“Barbara Spurrier remains as the director of financial reporting on the board with primary oversight over the financial function of the group, and its audit process.”

In 2014, blur issued two profit warnings. Founder, chief executive and chairman Philip Letts offloaded 900,000 shares at 400p each in October 2013, but by March the following year the company had to slash the price of its shares to 75p each to raise fresh cash.

It has issued four profit warnings since January 2014 and seen its shares drop 4% to 46p after news emerged of Harvey’s departure.

A year ago previous chief financial officer, James Davis, left also after eight months in the role. He took over from ex-BT appointee Belinda Wrigley, who lasted five months in the job.

In April, blur announced that “blur and its auditors are in the process of dealing with enquiries from the Financial Reporting Council‎” on recognition of a number of historical contracts “which may impact the timing of the release of the results for the year ending 31 December 2014”.

Earlier this year, Shaun Wills, the former chief financial officer of fashion outfit, SuperGroup, was forced to step down after being made the subject of a personal bankruptcy order on 10 February. However, he later had his bankruptcy annulled by the courts.

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