Woolworths chief executive Grant O’Brien steps down; Cash Converters enters trading halt to settle class action: Midday Roundup

Woolworths chief executive Grant O’Brien steps down; Cash Converters enters trading halt to settle class action: Midday Roundup

Woolworths chief executive Grant O’Brien is stepping down from the top job following the supermarket giant’s “disappointing” performance.

“At the recent Investor Day we set out clear strategies to grow our businesses over the next three years and we have been working hard to execute these plans,” O’Brien said in a statement this morning.

“However, the recent performance has been disappointing and below expectations. I believe it is in the best interests of the company for new leadership to see these plans to fruition.”

O’Brien has been with Woolworths for 28 years and in the position of chief executive since October 2011.

Woolworths chairman Ralph Waters thanked O’Brien for “his ongoing contribution” to the company and his willingness to stay in the position until Woolworths appoints a successor.

“Whilst the Board acknowledges that the Company’s recent financial performance has been disappointing, it is committed to the plans and strategies outlined at the May Investor Day. Successful execution of these plans will be the basis for continued long-term value creation for our shareholders,” Waters added.

O’Brien’s resignation comes as Woolworths also revealed it will axe a further 1200 jobs across its support functions, supply chain and non-customer facing store positions.


Cash Converters enters trading halt to settle class action


Securities in Cash Converters have been placed in a trading halt as the company finalises a settlement in a class action in New South Wales.

Cash Converters International (CCIL) notified shareholders of the trading halt this morning. The halt is expected to remain in place until the start of normal trade on Friday morning or until a further announcement is made by the company.

“CCIL is in the process of executing a deed of settlement in relation to the NSW Class Action,” company secretary Ralph Groom said in a letter accompanying the notice.

“The terms have been verbally agreed and it is expected that the deed will be signed by close of business on or before Thursday 18 June 2015. The existence and nature of the matter to which this request relates needs to remain confidential until the deed has been executed by all parties.”

Fairfax reports Maurice Blackburn is leading the class action on behalf of up to 50,000 Cash Converters customers on low incomes, who have argued they were illegally exploited by the company charging “exorbitant” interest rates.

The action, which was initiated in October 2013, involved claims for $40 million in compensation.


Shares up on open


Aussie shares are up this morning despite nerves from global markets overnight over the situation in Greece.

“On the positive side, local markets may take some comfort from the relative indifference, their international peers appear to be displaying towards the rising potential for a Greek debt default,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a statement.

“Given the large range of possible outcomes on Greece, markets appear to have decided that the best course of action is to wait and see what actually transpires before reacting.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 59.5 points to 5595.3 points at 12:05pm AEST. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones closed up 0.64%, rising 113.31 points to 17,904.5 points.


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