13Cabs operator A2B pushes out CEO

Source: Financial Review

By: Simon Evans

The incoming chairman of ASX-listed A2B, which operates the 13Cabs taxi network, has launched a strategic review of operations and said long-serving CEO Andrew Skelton will leave the company after seven years.

New chairman David Grant, appointed one day ago, said he will assume extra duties running the day-to-day operations as executive chairman in the short term while a search is underway is for a new CEO.

Investment bank Gresham has been appointed to conduct the strategic review of the company, which has been in the spotlight over a controversial property swap proposal, and which has suffered a renewed revenue hit as omicron led to more people staying at home in December and January.

Mr Skelton had been the chief executive of A2B, previously known as Cabcharge, since 2014.

Mr Grant was blunt, saying: “In the context of the board’s decision to conduct a strategic review of the business, it was best for both the company and Andrew that he pursue other opportunities”.

He said the omicron variant had caused extra headaches. “Early in the fourth quarter last year, we had hoped that the impact of COVID was waning,” Mr Grant said.

“The omicron variant that emerged late in calendar 2021, has significantly extended the period of limitations on mobility,” he said.

Given the large number of challenges to the core business, changing consumer behaviour and the board’s focus on the “timeline to enhanced returns” it had been decided to undertake a broad-based review, Mr Grant said.

Mr Skelton, who stepped up from being corporate counsel and company secretary to take over as CEO in 2014, said A2B had competed head-to-head with well-capitalised global competitors at a time of big technological change. It has been battling against ride-share companies such as Uber.

He said he felt “confident about A2B’s future”.

A2B earlier said Paul Oneile was stepping down as chairman after holding that role since early 2017.

Mr Skelton had been pushing hard in the payments-technology segment and driving a strategy built that included boosting the FlamingoPay payments processing terminals for small businesses.

It has been targeting small-to-medium business operators with an annual turnover between $50,000 – $5 million. The all-in-one payments, loyalty program and marketing system under the FlamingoPay banner linked seamlessly into platforms such as Google, Facebook and Instagram.

In October, he outlined that A2B was positioning itself to generate more revenue from its technology and payments-processing businesses than traditional taxi operations in a few years, with vast upside in technology and payments.

Mr Skelton also said at the time the 13cabs network had the jump on rivals in the personal transport market such as Uber regarding the environmental credentials of its vehicle fleet.

Mr Skelton said about 25 per cent of the 13cabs fleet consisted of traditional combustion engine vehicles but 75 per cent was either hybrids, electric or a combination of alternative fuels.

Licensed by Copyright Agency. You must not copy this work without permission.