Preferred confirms that MD has quit

Preferred has confirmed that joint managing director John Webster has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.

George Patellis, the other joint managing director, has also announced that he will leave the company later this year to return to America with his family.

Speculation is now rife that Webster is rumoured to be taking nine months gardening leave before he joins Swift Advances as chief executive.

Swift, the Essex-based lender specialising in secured consumer loans and residential mortgages, hit the headlines earlier this year when it was rumoured that Michael Bolton was to join the company.

Swift has refused to confirm that Webster has been appointed chief executive and says it does not comment on individual speculation.

Kestrel is the holding company for Swift Advances, which is a secured consumer loan and residential mortgage business.

In May 2004, Alchemy invested 53m to acquire a 73.4% stake in Kestrel’s ordinary shares in a transaction which valued the business at 314m.

Management and other investors hold the balance of the shares, and in March 31 2005, the business made an operating profit of 33.7m.

However, if rumours of the nine-month gardening leave period is correct, industry sources say the possibility of Webster securing the position may prove difficult.

Webster himself has not confirmed or denied the move.