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Powerhouse board overthrows chairman for 'false declaration'

Steven Hampson, managing director of Powerhouse.

The recently-appointed chairman of Christchurch-based Australian Stock Exchange-listed technology investor Powerhouse Ventures, has been forced to resign as chairman after a probe by other directors.

It followed revelations of former chairman Blair Bryant's declarations about bankruptcy, investor relations manager Greg Slade said.

But Bryant remains on the board because a director can only be removed by a shareholder vote, or resign voluntarily.

Powerhouse Ventures directors were behind closed doors to discuss the future of recently appointed and now resigned chairman Blair Bryant.

Powerhouse makes first investment post-ASX listing
Powerhouse Ventures seeking AUD$20m via ASX listing

Slade said Bryant had signed a declaration saying he had not been bankrupted when he had been in 2007 in the US. 

"He ticked the 'no' box instead of 'yes'. If he'd ticked 'yes' we could have had a discussion and it wouldn't necessarily have prevented him from being a director.


"People have their ups and downs, but the fact he didn't make that declaration made his position untenable to lead the company.

"It doesn't reflect well on anyone. We feel misled and some shareholders are asking why we didn't do our due diligence.

"Well we did, but we didn't go back 12 years ago. We took it as read. It's not a good situation all round. It's a fluid situation. It's early days," Slade said.

Bryant  was appointed because he had a good background in startup businesses and venture capital, and had consulted to some big technology companies overseas, he said.

Bryant was viewed as having expertise to help with raising capital for the companies Powerhouse had invested in, Slade said.

In a statement to the ASX, Powerhouse said the company had conducted its own internal investigation.

"As a result of these investigations, the board has decided that it is no longer appropriate for Blair Bryant to be chairman of Powerhouse, as he made a false and misleading declaration to the board at the time of his appointment as chairman.

"The board has consequently resolved that Mr Bryant must step down from his role as chairman of the board.

"The board has resolved to replace Blair as chairman and appoint myself (Russell Yardley) in his place."

The furore is the latest is a series of destabilising events for Powerhouse 

In April the ASX asked the company to explain how the company would continue its policy of investing in its 20-odd portfolio of technology startups, as stated in its August 2016 listing prospectus, if it continued to burn cash at the same rate as the latter half of 2016.

Powerhouse raised A$10 million from investors last year and its expenses have been higher than expected but it would not be spending as much over the next few months, the company had told the ASX.

Powerhouse has cornerstone shareholdings in several startups including CropLogic and HydroWorks, which were working towards their own ASX listings and capital raisings.

Powerhouse's share price has continued a declining trend and sits at A67 a share, below the August 2016 listing price of A$1.07.




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