Morrisons treasurer arrested over Ocado 'insider trading'

The supermarket's treasurer and head of tax has been accused of buying Ocado shares before its lucrative deal with Morrisons was made public.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 04 Feb 2014

- Read the interview with Ocado's founders from MT's October issue

Morrisons’ treasurer and head of tax was arrested for allegedly buying Ocado shares before the supermarket’s £216m deal with the online groceries company.
 
Paul Coyle was arrested in December after an insider trading probe by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Ocado’s shares jumped last year after its online shopping tie-up with Morrisons was made public.
 
The revelation that such a senior employee has been accused of insider trading couldn’t come at a worse time for Morrisons. The supermarket reported poor Christmas sales and its deal with Ocado is meant to propel it into online retailing, where it is years behind rivals like Tesco.
 
Ocado was one of the best performing major stocks in Europe in 2013, rocketing over 500% in the last 12 months as investors gave a mega-thumbs up to the Morrisons deal, which included a direct £165m payment for Ocado’s Warwickshire distribution centre.
 
Ocado also had a far merrier Christmas than Morrisons – its sales were up by 21% to £111m in the six weeks to January 5. At Morrisons, on the other hand, sales fell 5.6% in the six weeks to January.
 
Back in December, the FCA and police in Yorkshire didn’t name Coyle, saying only that a 49-year old Morrisons employee had been arrested as part of an insider trading investigation. Coyle hasn’t returned to work and is yet to be charged, the Telegraph said.

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