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The Official Line on Cennyd Roberts’ Departure At @8OutdoorMedia

If rumours are to be believed then all may not be well in the world of SIS Digital Vision Limited / SIS Digital / 8 Outdoor. We were the first two weeks ago to break the news [1] that Cennydd Roberts, the CEO of 8 Outdoor was to leave the business. The official release on that is now out, which states that he will finish at the end of April and we get the usual platitudes…

Cennydd Roberts, Chief Executive, 8 Outdoor quoted as saying “I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved over the last three-and-a-half years at 8 Outdoor. It’s now established as a dynamic and innovative force in the out-of-home sector with a strong and highly talented team of people in place to take it into its next phase. I’m confident 8 Outdoor will continue to succeed and grow and I wish everybody involved with the business every success” and Simon Grice, Group CEO & Founder saying “Cennydd Roberts was appointed as the first CEO of 8 Outdoor in October 2015 and has been instrumental to the growth of the business from a start up to the successful business it is today. Cennydd’s strategy and vision has placed 8 Outdoor on a fantastic path to further growth and success for many years to come. We wish Cennydd all the success for the future”.

Yet we have seen, played out on social media should anyone doubt the voracity of this, the company being slow in settling its invoices and perhaps a lot more damning, other directors leaving the business(s) over the last few months.

The termination of appointment of John Edward Story as a director happened on 12 December 2018, some of you may know that John Storey was a first round investor in Ocean Outdoor from the very beginning (we are talking here circa 2004 when originally setup by Damian Cox (and way before the current management structure of Tom Goddard and Tim Bleakley got involved). John made a sizeable return (we are talking many millions) on that original investment (this was during Ocean’s second round sale from LDC to Searchlight Capital). Flush with that success he invested in and became Chairman, and then a director of SIS Digital and its subsidiary 8 Outdoor. John was eventually replaced as Chairman in March 2017 by Alan Brydon [2].

It’s clear however from Companies House filings that John is not the only director to leave recently. Former Havas Media Group CFO Darren Poynton who joined SIS Digital in February 2018 [3], didn’t even last a year, resigning as a director in January 2019.

Are the Chinese investors who put GBP 11 million into the company back in February 2018 strengthening their position within the company as a consequence of all of this (and likely at the expense of the existing shareholders and directors) or, are all of these THREE director departures, simply a way to clear the decks as a precursor to a quick sale?