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Burford Capital replaces CFO over concerns on marriage to CEO

U.K. litigation finance firm Burford Capital Ltd. replaced CFO Elizabeth O'Connell in response to shareholders' concern over her marriage to CEO Christopher Bogart.

Burford said the concerns were "unjustified" given the company's control structure, but acknowledged that investors preferred another CFO.

Jim Kilman, who was most recently vice chairman of Morgan Stanley Investment Banking and has served as senior adviser to Burford since his departure in 2016, will take over as CFO immediately, while O'Connell will become Burford's chief strategy officer. Kilman has agreed to hold the role for no more than two years.

Meanwhile, Burford confirmed that it is in the early stages of seeking a second listing in the U.S. on either Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, saying such a listing was commercially attractive as an alternative to moving its current listing on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market to the bourse's main market. Burford noted that some preliminary legal matters need to be resolved and that process could take several months, but that it hopes to conclude the process by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Should a significant challenge arise in its plan to seek a U.S. listing, Burford said it intends to pursue a premium listing on the LSE's main market instead.

Burford also said it has begun a search for two new independent directors for its board. Following the appointment of the two directors and a period of overlap with the board's existing directors, Chairman Peter Middleton and board member David Lowe will eventually leave the board, while Bogart will join the board in due course.

Once the changes in the board are carried out, Kilman's successor as CFO will be considered by the board.

Burford said it expects to carry out more changes to the board, but that the changes are linked to the company's ultimate listing destination and its governance rules.

Earlier in August, U.S. hedge fund Muddy Waters LLC accused Burford of misleading investors with the metrics it reports and criticized the accounting it uses to value litigation cases, leading to a decline in Burford's shares.