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Powerhouse calls special meeting to dump Blair Bryant


Powerhouse calls special meeting to dump Blair Bryant as a director

By Jonathan Underhill

June 28 (BusinessDesk) - Powerhouse Ventures has called a special meeting of shareholders to vote on removing Blair Bryant from the board of the ASX-listed, Christchurch-based technology incubator because its former chairman hasn't left voluntarily since it was made public that he failed to disclose his bankruptcy in the US.

The meeting will be held on July 21 in Sydney. “The only item on the agenda for that meeting will be to put an ordinary resolution to a shareholder vote, to remove Blair Bryant as a director of Powerhouse,” said Russell Yardley, who was named as the new chair when Bryant was stood down two weeks ago. While the board can chose its chairman, only the shareholders have the power to vote directors on and off.

"The board has asked Mr Bryant to resign from his position on the board. Mr Bryant has not resigned and so a shareholders meeting has been called to resolve the matter," the company said. It will be put as an ordinary resolution, meaning it can passed by a simple majority.

Bryant was made to relinquish the chair after it emerged he hadn't disclosed that he had previously filed for bankruptcy in the US in 2007 before being discharged in 2008. Powerhouse spokesman Greg Slade said at the time that in Bryant's application form, in answer to a specific question about bankruptcy "he ticked no".

Powerhouse, which is based in Christchurch, raised A$10.2 million in an initial public offering, with the shares debuting on the ASX at the offer price of A$1.07. At the time, it said the proceeds will largely go to expanding the firm's $20.7 million investment portfolio of early stage companies that were collectively worth $133.6 million.

Since then it has continued to make investments, including up to $450,000 in a new ed-tech software company, EdPotential, spun out of Victoria University’s Faculty of Education, and Objective Acuity, a spin-out from the University of Auckland that has developed a revolutionary eye technology. Among other investments is CropLogic, a Christchurch-based developer of technology that allows farmers to more accurately control inputs such as fertiliser and water, and Syft Technologies, a gas analysis firm it sold out of last month.

Powerhouse received funding from Callaghan Innovation as did some of the start-ups it invested in such as CropLogic and Callaghan says its relationship with the company "remains unchanged" and it continues to provide technology incubator services under Callaghan's pilot scheme.

The biggest shareholder in Powerhouse is Christchurch City Council-owned Canterbury Development Corp (CDC) with 22.5 percent.

(BusinessDesk)

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