HomeServe’s boss in £70m share sell-off

City A.M. Reporter
THE chief executive of British insurance group HomeServe yesterday said he was selling almost £70m of his shares – around a third of his stake – denting the company’s share price despite a rise in first-half profits.

Richard Harpin, chief executive since 2004, intends to sell 16m shares worth some £68m based on yesterday’s opening price and equivalent to five per cent of the company.?

The transaction takes his holding from 17 per cent to 12 per cent.

Proceeds from the placing will be used to diversify his financial portfolio, said Harpin, who insisted he remained committed to the group he founded.

He added: “There are lots more opportunities in the countries that we are already in and opportunities in due course to open up additional geographies. I absolutely love [Homeserve] and am committed for the long term.”

Harpin told reporters on a conference call yesterday, adding that he was confident of signing additional US partners in the future.

HomeServe shares fell as much as 4.8 per cent following the announcement, before closing down one per cent at 422.00p.

The shock sale came as the provider of cover for broken boilers and burst pipes delivered first-half results showing it was on track to meet full-year targets.

Policies in HomeServe’s core UK market, which accounts for the bulk of its revenues, increased to 7.2m in the first six months of the year compared with 6.8m a year earlier.

Growth was faster in the US, where gross policy sales rose 36 per cent to over 800,000 during the period. HomeServe said in June that it had the potential to reach up to 20.3m households in the country.