Alterian loses founder after contract miss

SHARES in software group Alterian lost almost a fifth of their value yesterday after it compounded a profit warning with the loss of its founder chief executive.

Alterian, which makes marketing software for governments and big companies, said a delay to a £4m contract renewal would cut ten per cent off its full-year revenues and profits.

David Eldridge, who has led Alterian since founding it 14 years ago, resigned to take responsibility for the “disappointing” results leaving the company in further turmoil as it began the search for a replacement.

“The results for the year will be disappointing, principally as a result of the deferral of a major expected contract renewal and extension,” he said. “I take my responsibilities seriously and am stepping down from my role as the chief executive of Alterian.”

There is no immediate candidate to succeed Eldridge as new chief financial officer Guy Millward is not keen to step up, but non-executive director Iain Johnston is to become deputy chairman until a successor is found.

Analysts said a sale of the company would be likely with Eldridge no longer at the helm, but this may not benefit shareholders in the firm.

The contract renewal was expected to be signed before 31 March but due to “substantial management changes” at the client it could not sign before Alterian’s financial year ended. Alterian said it “considers that it is likely that the contract renewal and extension will be agreed”.

Contract delays are a frequent cause of profit warnings for technology firms and others such as Micro Focus and Pace have announced similar deferrals already this year.

Alterian’s shares closed down 18.9 per cent at 154p yesterday.