Praemium names interim CEO to succeed Ohanessian

Praemium names interim CEO to succeed Ohanessian

Praemium, The Australia-based, ASX-listed financial platform provider, has named Robert De Luca, a 20-year veteran of the Australia and New Zealand financial services sector, interim chief executive.

De Luca’s appointment comes weeks after the previous CEO, Michael Ohanessian, had his contract terminated.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange today, the platform provider said De Luca “has agreed to serve in the role on an interim basis whilst the board conducts an ongoing search for a permanent CEO”, beginning today.

“The process is expected to be concluded in the next few months.”

De Luca, Praemium noted, would be considered a “strong candidate for the permanent role” if he were to apply for it.

Praemium chairman Greg Camm said he was “extremely pleased” that “an experienced senior financial services executive of Mr De Luca’s calibre was available to Praemium at such short notice to serve in an interim capacity”.

Meanwhile, he added, the appointment would enable Praemium to conduct a proper search for a permanent CEO, while “knowing that the day-to-day running of the business is in very good hands.”

De Luca is to be paid a consulting fee of A$10,000 (£6,194) a week in his interim role, and no other benefits, Praemium said.

According to Praemium, De Luca’s 20 years of experience in the Aussie and New Zealand financial services sector began at National Australia Bank in 1997, after which he joined the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2000, and was named managing director of Bankwest in 2012.

As reported, Praemium announced on 22 February that it had “terminated the employment” of Ohanessian, saying that its board “believes that a chief executive officer with a different skill set would better serve the company’s leadership needs for the next phase of its growth and development”.

At that point it said that Praemium chairman Greg Camm would act as executive chairman until a new CEO was appointed, and that it had engaged the global executive search firm, Egon Zehnder, to help it to identify a successor.

Praemium was founded in 2001 by Australian Arthur Naodoumidis, a former IT consultant, and listed on the ASX in May, 2006. In addition to Australia, it maintains offices in Jersey, Hong Kong and the UK, where it has been present since 2008.

Last year, as reported,  it acquired Wensley Mackay Ltd, a UK SIPP provider.

Earlier this month, Praemium reported a record profit for the six month period to the end of December, helped by reduced losses in its international businesses, and “record inflows” in the half, and said it is currently administering funds globally of some A$5.4bn (US$4.14bn, £3.33bn).