September 9, 2015 / 7:01 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 3-Monitise shares slump as chief departs, loss widens

* Chief Executive Elizabeth Buse quits for personal reasons

* FY core loss 41.8 mln stg vs company expectation of 40-50 mln

* Says doesn’t expect revenue to grow in current year

* Shares down 41 percent, hit six-year low (Adds analyst comments, link to breakingviews, details and updates share movement)

By Esha Vaish

Sept 9 (Reuters) - Monitise Plc Chief Executive Elizabeth Buse has quit after just over a year in the post, the mobile banking software maker said on Wednesday, as it posted an increased yearly loss and forecast flat revenue in the current year.

Its shares plummeted more than 40 percent to a six-year low as Buse’s departure once again called into question Monitise’s growth prospects and its relations with a key customer.

Monitise, trying to revive its fortunes after multiple revenue warnings and an abortive attempt to sell itself, had hired Buse from Visa Inc last June with the objective of helping inspire a sevenfold increase in customer numbers.

Her departure, attributed to a desire to return to the United States for personal reasons, comes less than six months after founder and co-CEO Alastair Lukies said he would step down.

“She came with huge credibility from Visa Inc ... so the fact that she’s departing ... will definitely be seen as a sign of caution by potential customers,” analyst Milan Radia of Jefferies said.

Founded in 2003, Monitise blazed a trail by linking banks and mobile operators to build a business capable of handling more than $70 billion a year in mobile payments, purchases and money transfers.

However, it has issued a string on warnings on the back of a change last year in its business model, to subscriptions from one based on more attractive licensing deals.

The company has come up against tough competition from free mobile payment systems offered by the likes of Google Inc and Apple Inc.

SUDDEN CHANGE

And Visa Europe said in July it would reduce its 5.3 percent stake - echoing a previous statement by its parent regarding its 5.5 percent holding - which analysts attributed to a straining of relations after Monitise tied up with rival MasterCard Inc .

Visa’s sudden change in relationship with Monitise, from one of support illustrated by Buse’s appointment, indicates a “degree of anger”, Radia said.

Canaccord Genuity analysts said the loss of Buse and the lowered expectations reduced their confidence in Monitise’s turnaround and growth prospects.

The brokerage also pointed to limited evidence of demand for the company’s new “cloud” based product, which has brought on board only one customer since its April launch.

After Buse’s departure at the end of October, Monitise will be left with three former Visa executives in its leadership team, including Chairman Peter Ayliffe.

Deputy CEO Lee Cameron, who has been with the company since 2008, will step in as chief executive.

Monitise also reported a core loss of 41.8 million pounds in the year to June 30, up from 31.4 million a year earlier and compared with its expectation of 40-50 million.

It said it was not expecting revenue to grow in the current financial year, but expects to report a core profit.

The shares, down 41 percent at 3.43 pence by 1139 GMT, have lost more than 90 percent of their value since touching a high in early January 2014. The stock was the top volume mover on the London Stock Exchange. ($1 = 0.6509 pounds) (Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi and David Holmes)

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