Investors cheer exit of Customers chief

Tim Wildash has cashed himself out as chief executive of Australia’s largest ATM operator, Customers Ltd, a week after announcing a collapse in earnings.

Wildash, who had 15 months to run on his $600,000 a year contract, has been under pressure from the board to improve performance and lift the company’s sagging share price.

He resigned on Monday, and left the company that he helped develop over the past decade from its origins as ATM Solutions, and under ownership of both Bank of Queensland and then Macquarie Group before being injected into Customers.

Customers shares jumped 10.8 per cent, or 8.5 cents to 87 cents, this morning after his departure was announced.

Chairman Peter Polson told Insider that he was hopeful of being able to appoint a replacement chief executive within the next week.

With almost 6000 ATMs under its control, Customers lays claim to running one in every five of the cash machines around the country - but the fall-off in retail spending has pressured profits.


That, and the costs of building its capacity to earn revenue from processing payments, rather than just a fee on ATM transactions, contributed to a 77 per cent dive in December half profits from $11.6 million to $2.7 million.

Customers’ shares dropped from just above 90 cents to 80 cents each in the wake of the result. The total market value of the company has slumped from near $375 million to about $110 million since Wildash’s contract was renewed in August 2010.

Polson, a highly experienced former investment executive with Colonial and Commonwealth Bank, was appointed to the Customers board in a structural shake-up after the 2010 annual meeting.

While he and the board had backed Wildash’s strategy to broaden its revenue streams, investors have been concerned at the up front cost of the diversification compared with the slow flow of revenues.