Shock Carphone resignation
One of its two founders, David Ross, has resigned as deputy chairman, following his disclosure to the mobile phone and internet group that between 2006 and 2008 he pledged 136.4m of his shares in the company as collateral against personal loans.
This is significant for two reasons.
First, under Stock Exchange rules, each time directors pledge shares in this way as collateral, their companies are supposed to make an announcement.
Ross failed to inform Carphone Warehouse that he had committed his shares in this way until 7 December.
It's not clear why he failed to keep Carphone in the picture in the appropriate way. Nor is it clear what kind of action, if any, will be taken by the Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog, against this apparent breach of the rules.
As I understand it, Ross feels he was guilty of an administrative oversight. But it's a pretty embarrassing oversight.
Second, although Ross has told Carphone that "none of these loans is currently in default", there is also an implication in the company's statement that he may at some future date be forced to sell some or all of the shares.
Carphone says that Mr Ross has "given an undertaking to the board to facilitate an orderly market, where possible, for any future disposal of shares in the company."
According to Carphone, earlier use by Ross of his shares as collateral means that 177m of his shares are pledged against loans, equivalent to about a fifth of the entire company.
Investors will therefore see this morning's announcement as raising great uncertainties about the future ownership of that fifth of the company - which at a time when life is so difficult for all retailers is something of a pain for Charles Dunstone, Carphone's chief executive, and his executive team.
It's also something of a personal shock for Dunstone. He was at school with Ross, or "Rosso" as Dunstone calls him. He founded the company with him. And it would be understandable if he felt a bit let down this morning.
UPDATE, 08:47 AM:
David Ross is a pretty well-known character on the British corporate scene. In May, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, appointed him to look after the financial interests of Londoners in preparations for the 2012 Olympics. Ross became the Mayor's nominee on the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.
He's also a director of National Express and Big Yellow Group.