CFO checks out of Air Partner

Private jet hire company Air Partner has announced the resignation of its chief financial officer (CFO), Neil Morris, after the company revealed it intends to restate certain historic results following the discovery of a £4m accounting error stretching back over several years

Morris is to stay with the company while it completes its review of the accounting problems, which were initially put at £3m. Air Partner has said it is reviewing candidates for the position of interim CFO that are available immediately and will be engaging an external recruitment consultancy to assist in the search process for a permanent CFO.

At the beginning of April, the company announced that, as part of its year-end close process, it had identified an issue relating to its accounting for receivables and deferred income in previous Air Partner results.

It appointed PwC and Rosenblatt Solicitors to provide independent accounting and legal support as part of the review into this matter.  Early indications are that the total cumulative impact arising between the financial years ended 31 July 2011 and 31 January 2018 will not exceed £4m.

On the advice of its advisers, considering the work required to restate appropriate historic accounts and complete the full year audit, Air Partner has decided to delay the announcement of its full year results for year ended 31 January 2018 by a month, from 26 April to 31 May.

Air Partner has said it stand by its statement, made in February, that ‘underlying pre-tax profit for the financial year ended 31 January 2018 is expected to be not less than £6.4m.’ It has also said it will be paying a dividend as planned, and that between the period financial year ended 31 July 2011 and financial year ended 31 January 2017, taking into account expected adjustments, the company had sufficient distributable reserves in each year to enable it to pay dividends legally.

Over this period, the company returned over £14.2m in cash to shareholders through interim and full year dividend payments, with an additional £0.9m paid as an interim dividend in October 2017 for the year ended 31 January 2018.

Peter Saunders, non-executive chairman of Air Partner, said: ‘Once this issue was identified, we immediately launched a review and engaged independent advisers to assist and support the process. Our review will be transparent, thorough and exhaustive and we will allocate as much time and resources as is appropriate to reach a satisfactory conclusion. ‘ 

Report by Pat Sweet

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