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CropLogic slashes headcount, plans move to Aust after MD quits

Tuesday 1st May 2018

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ASX-listed CropLogic announced plans to relocate its head office to Australia and is slashing its head office and technical staff to five from 13. 


"A relocation of the head office to regional Australia will allow greater ease of access to CropLogic executives and staff to key revenue partners and potential clients," the company said in a statement. The company also said it is shifting its market strategy from growth through acquisitions to commercialisation via direct sales and/or partnerships in the US and Australia. 


CropLogic is looking at key agricultural regions in the eastern states of Australia, such as Riverina in New South Wales, the Mallee regions of Victoria, the North West Slopes of Northern New South Wales and Northern Tasmania. Chair Cheryl Edwardes said the research and development component of the in-house team will be reduced, which will see the in-house technical team cut and relocated.


Last week, the company's managing director and chief executive Jamie Cairns resigned with immediate effect. James Cooper-Jones, CropLogic's CFO and company secretary, was appointed as acting chief executive, and the board has now made his role permanent. The managing director role has been made redundant as part of the restructure, with the board saying this means that the CEO can focus on the company's commercial success and new strategy. Daniel Bramich of Bourke Group, a financial services firm, was appointed as chief financial officer.


Up until now, the Christchurch-based agritech firm has focused on R&D with the teams primarily located in New Zealand. The CropLogic system gathers field data, via in-field sensors coupled with satellite communications, to help growers improve the productivity of their crops. Successful trials of the CropLogic system have been completed on potatoes in China, the US, Australia and New Zealand with four of the major multinational potato processors. Further to this, CropLogic is poised to start trials of the CropLogic system in other commodities such as corn, wheat, soybean and cotton.


The company was incorporated in 2010 when it licensed the intellectual property for its software from the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, which had done 25 years of plant model research. It has received support from Callaghan Innovation. 


It will continue to "research and develop cutting-edge technology" but will seek to partner with research institutions, industry bodies and agricultural commercial enterprises around the world, it said. 


Separately, Christchurch-based technology incubator Powerhouse Ventures, which owns 31 percent of CropLogic, said its net cash used in operating activities was $903,000 in the three months to March 31 and $3.2 million in the nine months to March 31. The bulk of the expenses were in staff costs and administration and corporate costs. 


It said it has cash and cash equivalents of $191,000 at the end of the quarter but its estimated cash outflow for the next quarter is $1.6 million.


Last month, Powerhouse accepted an immediate A$400,000 injection from the two investors, selling convertible notes paying 12 percent annual interest at 20 Australian cents apiece, it said in a statement. The shareholders have offered a further A$950,000 on the same terms, and other investors have indicated a willingness to invest another A$500,000, taking the total new capital to A$1.85 million.


Accepting the shareholders' further offer of A$950,000 requires a shareholder vote under ASX listing rules, and potentially the New Zealand takeovers code as the company's 15 percent placement cap must be expanded if the issue of convertible notes means a shareholder may be able to exceed the 20 percent takeover threshold upon conversion.


A special meeting of shareholders is planned for this month to consider the placement cap expansion.


Powerhouse shares last traded at 20 Australian cents while CropLogic traded at 5.3 Australian cents. 



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