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Rocket Internet faces new setback with loss of two key managers

[BERLIN] Germany's Rocket Internet is losing two key managers, sources close to the company told Reuters, in a new setback for Europe's largest Internet firm which has seen its share price slide since listing in 2014.

The sources said Franziska Leonhardt, head of Rocket's legal department, and Uwe Gleitz, senior vice president of corporate finance, would leave the company shortly, both for personal reasons.

Sources close to the company said there had been no changes in the core management team and it should be no problem to find replacements for those leaving, but their departure is a further sign of uncertainty at the company.

Last month Rocket was forced to deny a dispute with major investor Sweden's Kinnevik over plans to list its recipe ingredients delivery startup HelloFresh as it removed Kinnevik's chief executive as chairman of its supervisory board.

Both Mr Leonhardt and Mr Gleitz were members of the team which prepared the initial public offering of Rocket in October 2014, since when the share price has steadily declined from the 42.50 offer price, closing at 23.37 euros on Monday.

Founded by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer in 2007, Rocket has set up dozens of ecommerce sites, aiming to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in new markets in Africa, Latin America and Russia.

However, investors have been unsettled since it took a new direction early last year by splashing out on online food takeaway businesses in developed markets, prompting it to seek more funds. And its plans to list businesses like HelloFresh have been disrupted by rocky equity markets.

A source close to the company told Reuters last month there had been disagreements on the supervisory board about strategy.

Rocket is also looking for a new head of communications to replace Andreas Winiarski who left last year to join a consultancy.