Boss reduces stake as first half profits rise

Homeserve chief executive Richard Harpin is selling 16 million of his shares in the company - valued at almost £70m.

Harpin yesterday announced the sale of around a third of his stake in the company, worth some £68m based on yesterday’s opening price and equivalent to 5% of the company.

It came as the emergency repair firm reported a first half profit before tax (excluding amortisation of acquisition intangibles, joint venture taxation and exceptional operating items) of £21.3m, compared to £18.9m in the same period last year.

The transaction takes Harpin's holding from 17% to 12%.

He said proceeds from the placing will be used to diversify his financial portfolio. The founder, who has been chief executive since 2004, insisted he remained committed to the group.

“There are lots more opportunities in the countries that we are already in and opportunities in due course to open up additional geographies. I absolutely love [Homeserve] and am committed for the long term,” he said in a report in this morning's City AM.

Homeserve's share price rose 4p this morning to 426p, after closing down at 422p yesterday following the announcement.

The report said Harpin was confident of signing additional US partners in the future.

The company said it was on track to meet full-year targets following its first half results.

Policies in HomeServe’s core UK market, which accounts for the bulk of its revenues, increased to 7.2 million in the first six months of the year compared with 6.8 million a year earlier.

Growth was faster in the US, where gross policy sales rose 36% to over 800,000 during the period.