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After almost nine years as chief executive of Aim-traded recruiter Staffline, Andy Hogarth stepped down last month, making way for former finance director Chris Pullen to take his place. As Mr Hogarth settles into his new life as a non-executive director, he has sold most of his stake in the company, pocketing more than £10m in the process.

The sale reduces his stake to about a third of its original size, but Mr Hogarth has pledged not to sell any of his roughly 500,000 remaining shares in the group for at least 12 months. This will give Mr Pullen time to build up his own shareholding. He recently bought an additional 5,043 shares, but his stake amounts to a little over 0.06 per cent — well shy of Mr Hogarth’s newly diminished holding of 1.82 per cent. This at a time when the shares are struggling, having steadily de-rated since May last year.

Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich, has offloaded a beneficial holding of 1m shares in the audio/visual distributor, generating £6.2m in the process. The sale, which included holdings of family members, was conducted a fortnight after a trading update which detailed a 28 per cent increase in revenues combined with an improving gross margin and cash generation ahead of management expectations.

An improving gross margin will draw attention from analysts, particularly given that Midwich continues to upscale through acquisitions.

There are always costs associated with integrating acquired assets, but the group operates in niche markets and management appears to have a sharply defined perspective on which kind of businesses (and which locations) are likely to generate returns in line with the group average.

New Zealand-based Wired Ltd provides a case in point, while the recent purchase of UK distributor Sound Technology and majority stakes in Netherlands-based Gebroeders van Domburg and Iberia-focused Earpro have proved wholly beneficial, with the acquired assets performing either “in line or ahead” of expectations.

Directors’ Deals, February 5 2018
CompanyDirectorDateNo of sharesPrice (p)Value (£)Holding (shares)
BUY
Amati VCT 2*Michael Killingley29 Jan 182,864174.564,99952,697
Aggregated Micro Power Neil Eckert (ch)30 Jan 1810,000909,0007,845,700
Arden Partners Donald Brown (ceo)25 Jan 1850,0004522,500250,000
Arden Partners Donald Brown (ceo)26 Jan 1850,00044.7522,375300,000
Beeks Financial Cloud Mark Cubitt (ch)25 Jan 1870,70749.535,00070,707
Best of the Best David Firth31 Jan 185,00026013,0005,000
Blue Prism*Chris Batterham30 Jan 185,2381,26065,999149,238
Blue Prism*Ijoma Maluza (cfo)30 Jan 186341,2607,988634
Blue Prism*Kenneth Lever30 Jan 185,5921,26070,45937,643
Blue Prism*Charmaine Eggberry30 Jan 1826,7171,260336,634356,717
British Empire Trust Calum Thomson31 Jan 181,400738.710,3427,600
British Empire Trust Anja Balfour26 Jan 183,000740.7422,2223,000
CC Japan Income & Growth Trust Harry Wells (ch)29 Jan 1810,000164.516,45040,000
CC Japan Income & Growth Trust Peter Wolton29 Jan 1825,000164.541,12560,000
Carclo Mark Rollins25 Jan 1830,00084.2325,269100,000
CyanConnode John Cronin (ch)25 Jan 18200,00014.829,6002,413,467
Diageo Javier Ferrán (ch)26 Jan 1830,0002541762,300145,637
EU Supply Fredrik Wallmark (cfo)25 Jan 1810,00012.51,25020,000
EU Supply David Cutler (ch)30 Jan 1860,00014.758,850502,477
EU Supply Thomas Beergrehn (ceo)26 Jan 1865,00013.58,7759,045,903
Edinburgh Investment Trust (The) Glen Suarez (ch)26 Jan 1830,000700210,00037,000
FFI Antony Mitchell29 Jan 18250,00088220,000250,000
HICL Infrastructure Co Frank Nelson26 Jan 1815,000140.144721,02251,214
HICL Infrastructure Co Ian Russell (ch)26 Jan 1825,000139.8334,95894,353
HICL Infrastructure Co Susie Farnon29 Jan 1817,200144.13824,79239,931
Henderson Opportunities Trust Peter Jones (ch)30 Jan 187501,099.108,24314,000
Mobile Tornado Peter Wilkinson31 Jan 182,000,0005100,00038,145,141
Montanaro European Smaller Companies Trust Richard Curling31 Jan 185,000841.142,0555,000
Mortgage Advice Bureau♥Nathan Imlach31 Jan 182445931,44726,651
Mortgage Advice Bureau♥Richard Verdin31 Jan 182135931,26322,424
Nexus Infrastructure Geoffrey French (ch)30 Jan 185,00026613,3005,000
PCF Christine Higgins31 Jan 1819,50026.255,11919,500
Phoenix Global Mining Andre Cohen30 Jan 18100,0004.44,4001,456,669
Phoenix Global Mining♥Andre Cohen30 Jan 18100,0004.44,4001,556,669
Phoenix Global Mining Marcus Edwards-Jones (ch)30 Jan 18107,1004.44,7122,805,886
Porta Communications John Foley (ch)31 Jan 184,700,0003.5164,5005,665,079
Premier Oil Roy Franklin (ch)31 Jan 1860,00083.1149,86660,000
Produce Investments Barry Clapham25 Jan 181,2991752,2735,932,765
Renishaw Kathryn Durrant25 Jan 181985,0359,969198
Renishaw William Lee26 Jan 184004,75219,0081,000
Standard Life Private Equity Trust Christina McComb30 Jan 182,7503459,4887,136
SELL
Blue Prism*Alastair Bathgate (ceo)30 Jan 18595,2381,2607,499,9995,063,224
Gear4musicDean Murray31 Jan 185,00065632,800194,520
Liontrust Asset Management♥Adrian Collins (ch)30 Jan 18200,0005901,180,0006,249
LondonMetric Property Patrick Vaughan (ch)25 Jan 18165,255179.7296,96313,096,745
LondonMetric Property Patrick Vaughan (ch)26 Jan 18134,745180.1242,67612,962,000
Midwich♥Stephen Fenby26 Jan 181,000,0006206,200,00021,280,000
Personal Assets Trust Frank Rushbrook29 Jan 1811040,80044,88013,615
Staffline Andrew Hogarth30 Jan 181,006,1891,02010,263,128507,440
Superdry Julian Dunkerton26 Jan 181,000,0001,78017,800,00020,696,788
* placing/tender/open offer ♥ spouse/connected party; Source: Morningstar/Investors Chronicle

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