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Purplebricks shareholder Lecram calls for chairman's ouster

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FILE PHOTO: Sign for online estate agent Purplebricks is pictured outside a property in London
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By Aby Jose Koilparambil

(Reuters) -A top-ten shareholder in Purplebricks Group Plc on Tuesday called for the removal of Chairman Paul Pindar, hours after Britain's biggest online-only estate agency reported its first annual loss since the pre-pandemic 2019 fiscal year.

Pindar has held the non-executive chairman's position since December 2015, when Purplebricks got listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Lecram Holdings' move comes after a shake-up at Purplebricks in the first half of the year with Steve Long taking over as chief financial officer and Helena Marston as chief executive officer.

"While we are encouraged by the plans of the new CEO and CFO to turn things around and stem the cash bleed, we wonder why it has taken so long to act," Glenn Cooper, chairman of Harrier Capital, advisor to Lecram, said in an emailed statement.

"(We) are concerned at the lack of market experience at board level, and the fact that the chairman who presided over this terrible performance is still at the helm on the company."

Lecram is the sixth-largest shareholder in Purplebricks with a 4.2% stake.

Purplebricks in a Person Discharging Managerial Responsibilities transaction filing said Pindar has bought 2.5 million shares at 14.76 pence each on Tuesday, and along with Sharon Pindar, a person closely associated with the chairman, together now hold about 14.1 million shares in the company representing a 4.59% stake.

Pindar, who was an early investor in Purplebricks, is the former CEO of Capita Plc, serving the outsourcing firm as its boss for 15 years until 2014.

Purplebricks did not immediately respond to Reuters request for a response to Lecram's statement.

Shares in the AIM-listed company have slumped more than 87% since its market debut as the firm's ambitious international expansion failed to take off and it struggled recently with implementing a new operating model.

London-based Lecram said it would be meeting the company later this month and would reiterate its call for the change of chairman.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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