OnTheMarket is not responding to requests to reveal details of any pay-off for its chief executive Ian Springett, who was sacked by the portal’s board yesterday morning with immediate effect.
OTM yesterday declined to respond to press enquiries about the likely financial settlement, which is unlikely to be revealed in full until the publication of the company’s annual report.
The controversial Springett - who ran the PrimeLocation portal some years ago, before it was sold - is no stranger to controversy over his finances connected with OTM.
In the summer of 2017 the Daily Telegraph reported that had Springett succeeded in his plans for OTM to raise £50m on the London Stock Exchange’s junior AIM market, his own 3.9m shares would have been worth some £20m should the portal then go on to be valued at £200m to £250m.
However, by early January 2018 - just ahead of the portal’s launch on AIM - it was revealed that its valuation was £100m - even though it was reported at the time that his shares would then be worth £6.45m.
Having launched on AIM at 165p, the share price has trended significantly lower during Springett’s leadership.
Although it reached a high of around 176p in May 2018, OTM’s about-turn strategy - which included abandoning its hard-fought ‘one other portal only’ rule for some agents, discounted or free membership for some new joiners while pursuing outstanding debts via legal letters, and then overtly criticising Rightmove having originally targeting Zoopla - failed to persuade investors.
The share price has trended downwards over the past 12 months and now sits below 70p.
Agents told Estate Agent Today that they hoped Springett’s sacking would lead to a change of direction for the third portal.
One wrote on the comments section of yesterday’s story: “We were one of the founding members and funders of OTM and we still believe in its potential. However, we were disappointed at their lack of response to suggestions and constructive criticism. Let us hope that that attitude will change.”
Another commented: “[We] left in January after being fed up [at] nobody listening … To me their whole strategy was flawed and the issue was top down.”