What Do Changes At Sirius Minerals PLC Mean For Investors?

Sirius Minerals  (LSE: SXX) has enough on its plate trying to develop its flagship York potash project but it now seems as if the company is having trouble retaining staff.  

Indeed, it was announced today that the company’s new CFO, Rachel Rhodes was leaving Sirius on 19 December 2014, to be replaced by Thomas Staley, who is currently Corporate Development Director.

In a rather surprising turn of events, Sirius has given no reason for Rhodes’ departure. The press release on the matter simply thanked her for her contribution and wished Rhodes well in her future endeavours.

Foul play?

Members of executive management teams don’t usually leave after only a few months on the job without a reason; it looks bad for all parties concerned.  

Moreover, at the time of Rhodes’ appointment it seems as if Sirius was glad to have her on board. At the time of Rhodes’ appointment, Sirius issued a press release stating that:

“Rachel Rhodes has over fifteen years of experience in the mining sector, including with Anglo American Plc and, most recently, serving as Chief Financial Officer and a director of London Mining PLC from September 2008 until November 2013.”

Within the same release Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius, commented:

“We are excited to have secured a CFO of the calibre of Rachel and she complements our existing team extremely well.  Rachel is bringing a wealth of valuable experience and insights gained through involvement in projects and companies that have already been through the different phases that a project like York Potash is undertaking…”

This announcement was made on the 26th of September. Rhodes was set to start on the 6th of October.

So, after only two full months on the job, Rhodes is heading for the exit. But the question that now needs to be answered is why? If she was offered a better job elsewhere, then her departure is easily explainable.  However, if she was forced out, or decided to leave early, then investors need to start asking questions.

Should investors be concerned? 

Investors should be concerned about this sudden exit. There’s no information that could explain Rhodes’ exit just yet but there are really only two reasons that would explain the move. Either Rhodes discovered Sirius was a sinking ship, or she had a disagreement with the rest of the management team.

Unfortunately, only time will tell why Rhodes decided to leave but the news has reflected badly on Sirius as a whole. The company is still awaiting feedback from authorities on its revised York Potash Project development plans. While the project’s approval could send Sirius’ shares sky rocketing, if the development is blocked, Sirius is in trouble.

So Sirius is not suitable for all investors, it's a high-risk, high-reward play.

The safest way to project your wealth with such a company is to use a basket approach. A basket approach involves using a basket of risky high-growth shares and reliable dividend-paying stocks, reducing risk and allowing you to sleep soundly at night.

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.