Corkery to lead Datalex recovery after scandal

SEASONED executive Sean Corkery is to lead embattled travel software firm Datalex on what will be a long recovery journey, after an accounting scandal that has hit shareholders and seen almost 100 staff lose their jobs.

The company confirmed yesterday that Mr Corkery, who has been interim chief executive since May and acting chairman since July after incumbent Paschal Taggart resigned, is taking up the full-time CEO role.

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Mr Corkery had indicated at Datalex’s annual general meeting last month that he was interested in taking on the position on a full-time basis.

He is the former chief executive of Denis O’Brien’s engineering services firm, Actavo, where he remains chairman.

“The time I have spent at the company so far has convinced me that there is a significant market opportunity, a powerful commercial model, and we now have a very strong team in place to capitalise on this,” said Mr Corkery of Datalex.

The firm also announced yesterday that former CityJet and Flybe boss Christine Ourmières-Widener had joined the board as a non-executive director. Mr Corkery said that she would bring “considerable airline and board experience” to the firm, to help steer its strategy as it plans to return to growth next year.

Ms Ourmières-Widener headed CityJet from 2010 to 2014, as it continued to rack up huge losses, before then-owner Air France sold it to Germany’s Intro Aviation.

CityJet was later sold by Intro to a consortium that included the group’s founder, Pat Byrne.

Ms Ourmières-Widener was appointed chief executive of UK-based airline Flybe in 2016. The airline was Europe’s largest regional carrier.

She told shareholders in late 2017 that the carrier was on a “clear path to sustainable profitability”. A year later, the airline was put up for sale.

It was formally acquired this year by a consortium backed by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air called Connect Airways.

Connect now includes the assets of Stobart’s Aer Lingus Regional service.

Datalex – headed until May by Aidan Brogan – has been rocked by the accounting scandal that was revealed by the company earlier this year.

Its first-half results for 2018 had been mis-stated and it recently reported that it made a $50m (€45.5m) loss last year.

It was forced to turn to its single biggest shareholder, billionaire financier Dermot Desmond, to prop up the business. He now owns just under 30pc of the company.

He gave Datalex a €10m debt and equity injection earlier this year, and has agreed to procure up to $5.5m as part of a $10m fundraising that will give the company enough cash to keep going until early next year.

It is also hoping to have its shares re-listed on Euronext before Christmas, with the company aiming to complete its fundraising early in 2020.

Datalex has also started the search for a new chairman.

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