John McGrath: 'I enjoy a punt'

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

John McGrath, the real estate salesman, has confirmed he has a credit account with a bookmaker but says this isn’t secured by his shareholding in ASX-listed agency he founded, McGrath.

His personal finances have been the subject of media reports. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on an alleged $16.2 million gambling debt with betting company William Hill Australia run by Tom Waterhouse.

McGrath’s statement to the ASX didn’t give the dollar size of the betting account but he called media reports “ridiculous”.

“Like many Australians, I enjoy a punt,” he said.

“The account is well within my means in the context of my net wealth. I am in full compliance with the terms of that account.

“I have never, and would never, let what I might choose to do in my personal time impact upon the Company.”

The full text of the statement:

    I am a person who values my privacy, and generally seek to avoid commenting publicly on adverse media relating to me. However, the ridiculous recent press coverage seeking to link matters which are personal to me with McGrath Limited (the Company) is distracting attention from the important work of the Company, to a point where I have concluded I need to make a statement to clear the air.

    Like many Australians, I enjoy a punt. I have a credit account with a bookmaker for this purpose. That account is not secured by, or otherwise connected with, my shares in the Company. The account is well within my means in the context of my net wealth. I am in full compliance with the terms of that account. I have never, and would never, let what I might choose to do in my personal time impact upon the Company.

    I dedicate more than 60 hours per week to my work for the Company I founded 30 years ago. I thank the great team at the Company for their support at what has been a personally challenging time for me. I will continue to focus my energies on the important work of improving performance, growing the Company and restoring shareholder value. I do not intend to comment further on this personal matter.

The agency yesterday posted a half year loss of $25.5 million after impairments of $22.9 million to goodwill. Revenue fell 23% to $51.6 million for the half year to December.

McGrath took back direct management control of the company today, the last day of CEO Cameron Judson.

Chairman Cass O’Connor and current non-executive directors Elizabeth Crouch and Cath Rogers have also announced their intention to resign.

A short time ago, McGrath shares were up 1.1% to $0.43. The company floated in December 2015 at $2.10.

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