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Avast sinks as long-time CEO signals departure

Vince Steckler, who has been at the helm for 10 years, would leave the role on 30 June and be replaced by Ondrej Vlcek, the current president of the company’s consumer business
Avast website
Steckler would remain available in an advisory capacity until 30 June 2020 to ensure a “smooth transition process”

Avast PLC (LON:AVST) shares sank mid-morning Wednesday after the anti-virus software firm said its long-serving chief executive would step down at the end of June.

The FTSE 250 company said Vince Steckler, who has been at the helm for 10 years, would leave the role on 30 June and be replaced by Ondrej Vlcek, the current president of the company’s consumer business, its largest unit.

READ: Avast reports solid growth in third-quarter revenue, rem ains confident for in-line full-year performance

However, Steckler would remain available in an advisory capacity until 30 June 2020 to ensure a “smooth transition process”.

“[Steckler] has guided Avast's tremendous growth, from a company with under US$20mln in revenue to over US$800mln as reported today. He has also led the Group through a major acquisition and successful [initial public offering] IPO. We are grateful for his contribution and commitment to ensure a smooth leadership transition”, said John Schwarz, Avast’s chairman.

Maiden results

The news was accompanied by the company’s maiden full-year results since listing on the London Stock Exchange in May in one of the biggest initial public offerings (IPOs) for a tech firm that saw it valued at around £2.4bn.

For the year ended 31 December 2018, the firm reported adjusted earnings (EBITDA) were up 6.7% at US$447.7mln, while adjusted revenues grew 9.5% to US$881.5mln.

Adjusted billings, meanwhile, were up 9.6% in the year at US$846.7mln.

Avast also proposed a dividend for the period from 15 May 2018 to the end of the year of 8.6 cents (6.5p) per share, in line with the policy proposed during its IPO.

Looking ahead, the company said “good momentum” in its performance and privacy products had created a “strong renewal base” and it expected “high single-digit” adjusted revenue growth for 2019, while adjusted EBITDA margins, which stood at 54.1% in 2018, were expected to be “broadly flat” year-on-year.

Shares were down 4.9% at 293p.

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