‘Irreconcilable differences’: Banana boss splits from Papyrus after six weeks
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After six weeks in the top job, former mining boss Allan Branch has resigned from banana furniture maker Papyrus, citing “irreconcilable differences”.
Mr Branch, appointed on October 3, had a bold plan to deliver an ‘accelerated growth strategy’ with potential to diversify the banana tree pulp maker into renewables, biotech, machine learning or even fintech.
But on Friday, those plans unravelled — and the tiny $2.7 million company gave up all the share price gains it made from Mr Branch’s short-lived appointment.
Papysus (ASX:PPY) shares fell 35 per cent on Friday, closing at 1.3c.
In the same announcement, Papyrus told investors its founder and champion of banana-tree processing Ramy Azer had concluded a capital raising of 2.6 million Egyptian pounds — roughly $192,787.
Chairman Edward Byrt said the money would ensure that its Papyrus Egypt business would be “financially capable of completing the undertaking” at their new factory based in the Egyptian city of Sohag, on the west bank of the Nile River.
Papyrus plans to ramp up production at the factory, which in June was established as “the first banana veneer and fibre manufacturing facility in Egypt”.
The company has patented technology to use banana palms to make paper, packaging, furniture and even building materials.
Founder Mr Azer has been behind the project since 1995, listing the business on the ASX ten years later.
Papyrus’s shares traded as high as 91c in 2007 after it won a patent for technology that converted banana trunk fibre into banana ply and built manufacturing facilities in Adelaide.
Mr Branch was said to have had a decade-long relationship with Mr Azer.
“Papyrus Australia is a survivor, one of the few technology startups that effectively weathered the global financial crisis and world economic downturn, through a combination of clever technology management, careful financial and administrative control and expert executive management,” Mr Branch said at the time of his appointment.
It isn’t the first time Mr Branch has made headlines. In 2014 he was managing director of Northern Territory explorer Krucible Metals which was later fined $300,000 for carrying out mining activities without authorisation.
Mr Branch and the former board were removed in December 2014, a move he described as the destruction of the company which now trades as TopTung (ASX:TTW).