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BYTES TECHNOLOGY GROUP PLC - Update on investigation into resignation of former Chief Executive Officer

Release Date: 18/03/2024 09:01
Code(s): BYI     PDF:  
Wrap Text
Update on investigation into resignation of former Chief Executive Officer

Bytes Technology Group plc
(Incorporated in England and Wales)
(Registered number: 12935776)
Share code: BYI

Bytes Technology Group plc
Update on investigation into resignation of former Chief Executive Officer ("CEO")

18 March 2024

Bytes Technology Group plc ("BTG", "the Company" or "the Group"), one of the UK's leading software,
security and cloud services specialists, provides the following update on the Board's investigation into
the circumstances related to the resignation on 21 February 2024 of BTG's former CEO, Neil Murphy.

In a separate announcement today, the Company provides a scheduled trading update on its financial
performance in the year ended 29 February 2024, a record year for the Group.

Circumstances around Mr Murphy's resignation

Mr Murphy's resignation was prompted by a voluntary request for information ("RFI") from the Financial
Conduct Authority ("FCA"), which was sent to Mr Murphy on 14 February 2024. The RFI indicated that
Mr Murphy may have conducted additional transactions that were not disclosed to the market or the
FCA since the Company's IPO. Mr Murphy informed the Board that he would share his draft response
to the FCA's inquiries at a scheduled Board meeting on 21 February 2024. However, on the morning of
this meeting, Mr Murphy unexpectedly resigned with immediate effect, indicating that he had failed to
make disclosures related to his share dealings, and this was announced by the Company on the same

As subsequently notified to the Company and announced on 23 February 2024, it transpired that Mr
Murphy had engaged in unauthorized and undisclosed trading of the Company's Ordinary Shares on
66 trading days between 6 January 2021 to 10 November 2023, totalling 119 transactions. This
revelation came as a shock to the other Board members, especially considering the Company's
previous investigation during 2023 into an unrelated share dealing disclosure matter (as further
described below) which had clearly highlighted to all Board members the importance of absolute
accuracy and transparency in all matters related to share dealings by directors, PDMRs, and persons
closely associated with them ("PCAs").

Subsequently, on 12 March 2024, Mr. Murphy's lawyers provided the Company with additional
information outlining 15 additional transactions on 10 different trading days conducted by Mr Murphy
on behalf of his wife, between 29 December 2021 and 20 November 2023. The Company disclosed
this information to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on 13
March 2024. Additionally, on 12 March 2024, Mr. Murphy, through his legal representatives, reiterated
that there were no further relevant transactions.

Given Mr Murphy's longstanding leadership position in the Company, the Board of Directors is
saddened as well as shocked by Mr Murphy's actions, which it finds hard to comprehend. His actions
were entirely at odds with the values of openness, honesty, and transparency which have been and
which remain central to the Group's culture and to its ongoing success.

Revised Director's Shareholding information

As a result of these undisclosed trades, BTG is aware that each Annual Report and Accounts for the
three years ended 28 February 2021 (FY21), 28 February 2022 (FY22) and 28 February 2023 (FY23)
had incorrect Directors' Shareholding disclosures for Mr Murphy despite him having represented those
disclosures to the Company and the Group's Auditors, Ernst & Young LLP ("EY") as part of the External
Audit. Taking all the disclosed and undisclosed transactions known by the Company to date into account
in respect of Mr Murphy and his wife, the Company has produced the following reconciliations to the
previously announced PDMR notifications issued by the Company in respect of Mr Murphy and the
disclosed positions in the FY21, FY22 and FY23 Annual Report and Accounts. Mr Murphy, through his
lawyers, has been provided with the Company's reconciliations and has confirmed that the information
is correct and there are no other transactions that need to be considered.

Neil Murphy's PDMR announcements

                          PDMR      Announced      Intervening          Revised
 Date             announcement      change in      undisclosed          holding           Disclosed vs
                       holding        holding           trades      (unaudited)   Note         Revised

 17-Dec-20           4,190,941              -                -        4,190,941                      -

 14-Jan-22           3,690,941      (500,000)          235,085        3,926,026      1       (235,085)

 06-Jan-23           3,735,424         44,483           93,322        4,063,831      2       (328,407)

 01-Feb-23           3,786,218         50,794         (63,740)        4,050,885      2       (264,667)

 22-Jun-23           2,836,218      (950,000)              326        3,101,211      2       (264,993)

 27-Nov-23           2,890,218         54,000        (264,993)        2,890,218                       -

Annual Report Disclosures

                                                        Total            Revised
              Disclosure          Disclosed       undisclosed            holding            Disclosed vs
 FY                 date            holding            trades        (unaudited)    Note         Revised

 FY21          28-Feb-21          4,190,941             8,852          4,199,793                 (8,852)

 FY22          28-Feb-22          3,690,941           267,421          3,958,362       1       (267,421)

 FY23          28-Feb-23          3,786,218           264,667          4,050,885       2       (264,667)

Of Mr Murphy's revised holding:-
    1. as at these dates, 6,556 Ordinary Shares were beneficially owned by his wife, Alison Murphy.
    2. as at these dates, 14,992 Ordinary Shares were beneficially owned by his wife, Alison

The Company is cooperating fully with the FCA and provided a response to FCA's RFI on 9 March 2024
that pertains to the Company's processes and procedures and will respond to any further requests to
assist the FCA in a timely manner.

Previous investigation during year ended 29 February 2024 ("FY24")

Earlier in FY24, the Board undertook an externally facilitated review of the circumstances relating to a
share purchase by a PCA of former non-executive director Alison Vincent not being notified to the
Company. The Board has since implemented the recommendations from that investigation.

On 14 July 2023, the Company issued a notification to the market detailing a purchase of 608 ordinary
shares by a PCA of Alison Vincent that had taken place on 29 March 2022. The Company was not
properly notified of the full details of this trade until 30 May 2023. At that time, the Company did not
issue a notification to the market regarding this trade as the value of this PCA transaction fell below the
de minimis threshold of EUR 5,000 under Article 19(8) of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) 596/2014,
which is part of English law by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 ("UK MAR"). At the
Company's Board meeting on 11 July 2023, the Board confirmed that the Company's Securities Dealing
Code did not include this de minimis exclusion and its policy was to disclose all PDMR Dealings notified
to the Company to the market via RNS. The Company then issued the 14 July 2023 RNS.

The Board also noted that: (i) the transaction had occurred during a Company Closed Period (but not
in a Closed Period under UK MAR and not at a time where any Inside Information existed) and it was
the Company's policy under its Securities Dealing Code that PDMRs are required to notify their PCAs
of Company Closed Periods and take steps to prevent them dealing in such periods; and (ii) the
Directors' Shareholding information in the FY22 and FY23 Annual Report and Accounts for the years
was incorrect with respect to the shareholding of Alison Vincent and her PCAs.

To establish the root cause of these issues and make recommendations for improvement, the Board
appointed an independent committee of the Board. The committee engaged PwC to undertake
independent investigative work to establish the facts of what had happened and to advise whether the
FY22 or FY23 Annual Report and Accounts would need to be revised. Furthermore, Travers Smith LLP,
the Company's external legal counsel, provided advice as to whether certain regulations had been
breached. Both firms were asked to make recommendations for improvement in the Company's
corporate governance and PDMR share dealing processes. The committee also engaged with EY, the
Company's external auditors, in respect of the incorrect disclosure in the Directors' Remuneration
Report on the Directors' shareholdings in the FY22 and FY23 Annual Reports.

The committee completed its work in early October 2023. The conclusion of its investigation was that
the FY23 Annual Report and Accounts did not need to be reissued. There will be a prior year adjustment
to the Directors' shareholdings table in this year's Directors' Remuneration Report and
recommendations from the committee provided by both PwC and Travers Smith have been
implemented and the Company is maintaining records of ongoing activities to monitor progress.

Throughout this investigation, it was emphasised with great clarity to all Directors and PDMRs that any
share dealings involving the Company's shares must be reported to the Company. At no time during
the period from 14 July 2023 to 20 February 2024 did Mr Murphy disclose to the Board his own nor his
PCA's incorrect shareholding position in the FY21, FY22 and FY23 Annual Report and Accounts.

Current investigation

The Board has now appointed another independent committee of the Board to investigate the
resignation of Mr Murphy and his undisclosed share transactions that were not in accordance with the
Company's Securities Dealing Code. PwC and Travers Smith are advising the committee. The
outcome of the committee's investigation will be shared with EY, the external auditors, in the context
of their current year Audit. The independent committee will work with the Audit and the Remuneration
Committees to ensure the proper disclosures are made, and a further prior year adjustment made, to
the Directors' shareholdings table in this year's Directors' Remuneration Report.

Once the committee has completed its investigation and reported to the Board, the Company will be
able to provide a date for the release of its preliminary results for FY24. It is currently envisaged that
this will be in late May or early June 2024.


Bytes Technology Group plc
Patrick De Smedt, Chairman
Mike Phillips, Senior Independent Director and Chair of Audit Committee
Tel: +44 (0)1372 418 500
Headland Consultancy
Stephen Malthouse
Henry Wallers
Jack Gault
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3805 4822

About Bytes Technology Group plc:
BTG is one of the UK and Ireland's leading providers of IT software offerings and solutions, with a
focus on cloud and security products. The Company enables effective and cost-efficient technology
sourcing, adoption and management across software services, including in the areas of security,
cloud and AI solutions. It aims to deliver the latest technology to a diverse and embedded non-
consumer customer base and has a long track record of delivering strong financial performance.

The Company has a primary listing on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange and a
secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Investec Bank Limited

Date: 18-03-2024 09:01:00
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