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WANdisco board demands return of £647k bonuses awarded to former bosses

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Two former executives of troubled Sheffield data firm WANdisco are facing demands from the company to repay almost £650,000 in bonuses awarded last year, Sky News reports.

The broadcaster says that WANdisco’s board has written to David Richards, the company’s co-founder and former CEO, chair and president, and the ex-finance chief Erik Miller to request that they hand back a total of $832,000 (£647,000).

The annual bonuses, which were disclosed in WANdisco’s recently published annual report, took the respective pay packages of Richards and Miller to $1.14m (£886,100) and $551,000 (£428,300) respectively.

City sources told Sky the bonus awards had sparked anger among shareholders who have seen the value of their holdings plunge since the discovery of a sales and accounting scam in March.

WANdisco’s shares were immediately suspended and the board parachuted in Stephen Kelly, the former chief executive of Sage Group, as interim boss after the CEO and CFO stepped down.

The board secured $30m (£24m) in new funding to keep the company afloat in July, and set about planning to return its shares to trading on AIM.

On their return on July 25, however, WANdisco’s shares almost immediately lost over 96 per cent of their pre-suspension value.

As of today shares had almost doubled their AIM-return lows of around 46p and were trading at just over 90p this morning – still some way off the £13.10 they were valued at pre-suspension in March.

A WANdisco spokesman told Sky in a statement: “In line with shareholder sentiment, and as simply the right thing to do, the board of WANdisco confirms that it has written to former executives of the company requesting that bonuses paid for [the last financial year] are returned. It is clear that the bonuses paid are significantly at odds with the realities the company has faced.”

It is unclear if the board has any legal grounds for demanding the return of bonuses, however the latest news will increase pressure on co-founder and former CEO Richards in particular.

WANdisco’s recently published annual report also revealed that the board had not been informed of related party transactions including a $362,691 payment made to sponsor Sheffield Wednesday’s shirts this season, on behalf of another company of the then-CEO, EyUp – a sum that could double depending on Wednesday’s performance in the Championship.

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