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Powerhouse weighs up legal action after finding 'irregularities' at SolarBright

Tuesday 30th January 2018

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Powerhouse Ventures has written off the value of its 30 percent stake in SolarBright and is weighing up legal action after discovering "irregularities" in the solar lighting maker's books a week after its founders quit. 

Christchurch-based Powerhouse wrote down the $500,000 value of the SolarBright stake to zero pending an investigation into asset ownership records, saying it discovered "a number of potential accounting and legal irregularities" including entries to public registers such as the Companies Office and the Intellectual Property Office, it said in a statement to the ASX yesterday.

SolarBright's founders Pat and Nicola Martin resigned as directors last week, telling the National Business Review their exit was in protest over Powerhouse's management. The investor later said their departure was in the best interests of the firm and that Powerhouse had confidence in the firm's intellectual property. 

"Some of these irregularities took place in the last four weeks, are under investigation, and may represent breaches of statutory and contractual obligations," chief executive Paul Viney said in yesterday's statement. "Legal action to correct the irregularities is currently under consideration." 

Powerhouse has previously signalled its stake in SolarBright was under review, and yesterday reiterated it was aware of "a great deal of international investor interest" in the firm's technologies. 

"PVL anticipates that the new board (appointment imminent) will work with shareholders to consider offers to acquire or license access to the technologies once SolarBright's legal title is perfected," it said. 

The company has found itself at odds with several investee firms, ousting its board appointment to Motim Technologies over what it claimed was a refusal to call a shareholders' meeting, and liquidating Hydroworks following a boardroom exodus. 

The ASX-listed shares rose 4.7 percent to 22.5 Australian cents yesterday, having slumped from its 2016 initial public offering price of A$1.07. 


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