Algae.Tec’s boss Peter Hatfull has exited the business as it transitions from biofuel into a “plant-based health and wellbeing company”.

Mr Hatfull has been replaced by chairman Malcolm James.

Algae.Tec (ASX:AEB) told investors Mr Hatfull — who had been managing director since listing in 2011 — stepped down due to personal reasons and would be taking “extended personal leave”.

Algae.Tec debuted on the ASX strongly five years ago, doubling its 20c issue price — but has since failed to regain those heights.

In Tuesday lunchtime trade the shares touched 2.1c, near the bottom of their 52-week trading range of 1.8c to 6.8c.

Algae.tec started as an algae-based biofuel researcher with lofty aims to supply biodiesel and bio-jet fuel. In 2013 it began a pivot into nutraceuticals.

Medicinal cannabis came this year, as they realised the algae growing technology also worked well for marijuana.

It was a smart move, as research from Britain’s Swansea University this year showed large-scale algae farms were not viable on the scale needed for biofuel production.

“Looking ahead, AEB has a significant opportunity to expand its core operating divisions over the next 12 months and we are working hard to deliver on a number of key value-catalysts across our medicinal cannabis, aqua feed and nutraceutical divisions,” Mr James told investors.

Mr James has been contacted for comment.