Summerset Group chairman Rob Campbell says to link the chief executive's sale of some of his shares and the company's claim for a large wage subsidy is "ridiculous" and ignores the fact he sold when the share price had fallen.
The Herald reported this week that Julian Cook sold 250,000 shares worth around $1.5 million in the days after the company was paid a Covid-19 emergency Government wage subsidy of $8.8m for more than 1300 staff.
Campbell said public company rules limited the times directors and executives could trade shares and Covid-19 volatility trading blackouts had narrowed that time further.
"This period happened to be one of those periods for Summerset. And it's not a particularly convenient period (to sell) because the share price is relatively low compared to recent times.
"This is not a situation in which our share price is high and it's a good time to sell. This is not a particularly good time to sell. And this money is not going out of the company in any way. This is simply a transaction between one shareholder and other shareholders.
"No money leaves the company and it doesn't harm the company in any way whatsoever.
"Julian still holds a very substantial number of shares in the business."
As is the standard for any listed company, Cook had to get permission of the company to trade shares.
Campbell said executives could want to sell shares that were part of their salary package for many reasons, including to meet new obligations such as tax or to realise options.
Cook's reasons for selling were private and not for Campbell to disclose.
"The idea it relates in some way to the wage subsidy is frankly ridiculous. Summerset met the criteria for the wage subsidy. We have had a revenue fall which meets the criteria the Government set us. It has enabled us to keep people in employment.
"It is not something that is going into Summerset shareholder pockets in any way."
Asked if Summerset shareholders who had hung on to their shares despite the Covid-19 hammering the retirement investment sector has taken could be justifiably disappointed with Cook's action, Campbell said he had not been contacted by any shareholders.
"I would be amazed if shareholders had any reason to raise it."
Summerset's recent updates have given investors a mixed picture of the impact of Covid-19 on the company.
Summerset has previously refused to comment on Cook's share sales, beyond saying it was "around 8 per cent" of his holding in the company.