UPDATE 1-Oriel CEO leaves after strategy clash
By Steve Slater
LONDON Feb 22 (Reuters) - Oriel Securities, one of London's niche stockbroking and corporate advisory firms, said that Chief Executive David Knox has left after only five months in the role after a clash over strategy.
Founder and former CEO Simon Bragg will return as interim Chief Executive with immediate effect, Oriel said in a brief statement on Friday.
"This follows David Knox's decision to step down as a result of divergent strategic ambitions," the statement said.
Oriel declined further comment. It said that Knox was not available and he did not respond to an email.
Knox had clashed with one of the firm's major shareholders over the development of strategy, a source familiar with the company said. He declined to reveal with whom Knox clashed but said that it wasn't Bragg, who owns about 10 percent of the firm.
Oriel was founded in 2002 and is owned mostly by its staff.
The only major outside shareholder is Bim Sandhu, the CEO and owner of property firm The Santon Group, who owns about 10 percent of the company and became a non-executive director in March 2010. Sandhu could not immediately be reached.
Former or current employees who own between 3 percent and 8 percent each, according to filings at Companies House, include Brendan Wilders, Mark Young, Eithne O'Leary and Emma Griffin.
Oriel poached Knox from U.S. bank J.P. Morgan last June to head its equities business, but he was then named interim CEO and the role became permanent in September.
Bragg returned from a sabbatical to be head of corporate finance when Knox became CEO. In that role he took responsibility for corporate clients.
Knox told Reuters in September that he wanted to attract analysts and ramp up its coverage of larger firms to plug gaps left by bulge-bracket rivals cutting back in Europe.
Oriel has about 135 employees and specialises in advising mid-sized firms, with about 60 corporate broking clients.
It said David Robins would remain as chairman.