Xero chair, COO book million-dollar paydays after shares more than triple in past year

Xero chairman Sam Knowles and chief operating officer Alastair Grigg cashed in some of their shares, which have more than tripled in price in the past 12 months, after a ‘black-out’ period ended when the accounting software-developer reported its annual result last week.

Notices lodged with the stock exchange show Knowles, who was the founding chief executive of Kiwibank, sold 100,000 shares at $13.04 apiece, reaping $1.3 million on May 29, and Griggs sold 200,000 on the same day at the same price, netting $2.6 million and a further 15,300 at $13 each, for $199,000.

The shares gained 1.2 percent to $13.40 today, and have surged 74 percent this year alone. The transactions leave Knowles with 469,000 shares worth $6.28 million at today’s price, and Griggs with 1.19 million shares worth almost $16 million.

The directors and officers of Xero were in a restricted trading period in the 30 days leading up to the earnings result.

While Griggs and Knowles sold down, chief revenue officer Sam McLean, who joined Xero in March from Google, bought 15,300 shares at $13 apiece.

Xero director Sam Morgan, of Trade Me fame, sold 1 million shares at $7.40 in December, reducing his stake to 4.37 percent, a month after the company’s three biggest shareholders – chief executive Rod Drury, director Craig Winkler and co-founder Hamish Edward – sold a total of $22 million shares at $6 apiece.

That sale was in tandem with Xero’s $60 million sale of new shares at the same price to Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Matrix Capital Management.

As at March 31, Drury was still the biggest shareholder with 21.7 million shares, or about 19 percent, followed by Winkler with 18.5 million shares, or 16 percent, then Matrix Capital with 9.8 percent and Thiel with 7 percent.

The company has 4,715 shareholders on its register, with 54 of them holding 83.7 percent.

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