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Wellington Drive Tech motors on

By Campbell McIlroy

Friday 17th March 2000

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Brushless motor developer Wellington Drive Technologies has seen its share price more than double since December last year on news of an Axa placement of five million shares and the successful production of one of its innovative motors.

Wellington Drive Technologies traded on the unlisted exchange at 38c on Thursday, up 18c from the start of last week, and up from 15c in December.

The company completed a placement of five million shares to Axa at 20c on March 2, giving Axa a 4.8% holding in the company.

Wellington Drive's shares have struggled to attract interest over the past two years as the company has recorded successive losses and developed a reputation for not delivering on its promises.

But since Ross Green took over as chief executive two years ago the company has staged a turnaround. Dr Green has previously worked as project director for Duracell, Nokia, Bosch, BP and Xerox.

Since bottoming out at 6c in December 1998, after early speculation saw the shares hit 48c in March 1997, the share price has steadily improved as Dr Green focused the company on developing its brushless motors to production level.

At the end of February an American licensee to the technology, Shurflo, announced a breakthrough blower motor for trucks which could last for up to 40,000 hours, or up to a million miles. This was said to be up to 10 times longer than existing motors.

Another licensee, Integrated Motion Controls, began production of a motor for restaurant food processing equipment in January and expects to have production running at 1000 units a month by the end of March.

During a briefing to media and analysts on Wednesday Dr Green announced an interim loss of $445,000 for the six months to December 31.

But with the increased interest in the motor and successful trials being held in Australia and the US Dr Green predicted that by 2003 the company could capture 3% of the world wide light industrial air-moving market, and 1% of the worldwide light duty air and pumping appliance market. This could potentially net the company revenues just over $US10 million.

The features that make the Wellington Drive attractive to end users is that the motors are variable speed, integrate intelligent electronics, are made using injection-moulded plastics and are lighter.

The next 18 months will be make or break for the company and Dr Green said the real threat would come not from someone trying to build a better product than Wellington Drive but rather from someone trying to steal the technology the company has.

That was why the company has invested so much in patent protection.

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