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Rubicon's long-serving executive duo Moriarty, Taylor to depart

Tuesday 14th August 2018

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Rubicon's founding executive duo Luke Moriarty and Mark Taylor will leave the forestry biotech investment firm following a recent boardroom shake-up. 

Chief executive Moriarty and chief financial officer Taylor have given notice they will leave Auckland-based Rubicon in the March financial year, the company said in a statement. They have overseen Rubicon since it was formed in 2001 to commercialise innovation during the break-up of Fletcher Challenge, taking assets from the energy and forestry divisions. 

Their departure follows a number of boardroom changes, including the exit of long-serving director Steve Kasnet and the addition of investment banker Thomas Avery and McKinsey alumni Ozey Horton to the board. David Knott Jr took over the reins as chair last week. 

Rubicon has struggled to fire in its 17-year history, raising about $71 million through two rights issues and two placements, and using proceeds from the sale of its Tenon stake to repay bank debt. It's never paid dividends.

The shares first started trading at 45 cents on March 26, 2001. They reached a high point of $1.21 in March 2011 but have languished below the initial trading price for the past four years. The stock gained 1.8 percent today to 28.5 cents. 

In the latest annual report, Kasnet said the board had adopted an operational blueprint for ArborGen - the remaining asset - including a 10-year plan for the biotech seedlings firm. 

Rubicon is operating a smaller governance team since the Tenon asset sale. The report notes David Knott and Ranjan Tandon as the company's chief operating decision-makers given their investment funds own about 46 percent of the firm's stock. Knott and Tandon were briefly co-chairs after Kasnet's departure in July, before Knott Jr was appointed sole chair last week. 


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