Hold the bananas: Ex mining boss plots high-tech future for Papyrus
The former boss of a mining company that was fined for drilling without authorisation is taking the reins at banana furniture maker, Papyrus.
In 2014 Allan Branch was managing director of Northern Territory explorer Krucible Metals which was later convicted and 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).
“It is the only time I have saved a company, against all odds, to then have shareholders turn on me,” Mr Branch told Stockhead.
Last week Papyrus (ASX:PPY) — which makes paper and timber products out of banana trees — appointed Mr Branch to take the reins from founder Ramy Azer in what the company described as an “accelerated growth strategy”.
“I see Papyrus becoming a valuable technology holding company,” Mr Branch said.
Papyrus would diversify from its banana project into sectors such as renewable energy, biotech, machine learning or fintech – leveraging “one of Australia’s, and indeed the world’s, most inventive technology corridors” in Adelaide, he said.
The new managing director didn’t rule out continuing the original vision to create paper, veneers, packaging and containers out of banana plantation waste from their Egyptian warehouse and said he was determined to give it a ‘new lease of life’.
“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 told investors last week.
“I want to ensure the best possible outcome for the Egyptian joint venture project and its partners, using our accumulated knowledge and experience at transforming banana plantation waste to value-added products.”
The leadership change would allow Mr Azer to to focus on commercialisation of the banana tree materials.
“This will be an exciting new phase for Papyrus, sharing responsibility and work load with Allan and having the ability now to focus on the thing we need most, which is to get the Egyptian project to full commercial production,” Mr Azer said.
Papyrus shares have lifted from 0.7c to 1c since Mr Branch’s appointment last week.