US lead-acid battery-recycling start-up Aqua Metals has buried the hatchet with a hedge fund accused of trying to “steal control” of the company— but lost another CEO in the process.
Aqua Metals has entered into a settlement agreement with Florida-based Kanen Wealth Management (KWM)— which had urged shareholders to vote for its director candidates to join the board at an upcoming crunch annual meeting of stockholders next month.
But Selwyn Mould— whose appointment as interim CEO was announced on 23 April— has stepped down and resigned as a director. Mould, who briefly succeeded Dr Stephen Clarke, will continue to serve as chief operating officer.
Under the terms of the KWM settlement, Aqua Metals has expanded its board from five to six directors and appointed KWM nominees S Shariq Yosufzai and Sushil Kapoor to the board effective immediately.
Yosufzai and Kapoor will serve as “independent directors”. Yosufzai, 65, who was most recently vice-president global diversity for the Chevron Corporation, will also serve as Aqua Metals’ new non-executive chairman and “lead independent director”. Kapoor is a former chief global operations officer of US-based internet connections and services multinational Equinix.
Aqua Metals said: “Aqua and KWM are committed to establishing certain corporate governance ‘best practices’ going forward and, in that regard, have agreed to institute a ‘majority voting’ policy for the election of directors which will be effective commencing with the 2019 annual meeting of stockholders. The company will also continue to focus on further refreshing the board to improve its overall diversity.”
In a related move, Aqua Metals also announced the return of former chief commercial officer, Steve Cotton, to serve as president. Aqua Metals said Cotton had been invited to interview with other candidates for the post of CEO.
“Although there can be no assurance, the board expects to complete its search process and to hire a permanent CEO before the fourth quarter 2018,” Aqua Metals said.
On its financial performance, Aqua Metals has booked a net loss for the first quarter of 2018 of $7.5 million compared to a net loss of $4.9m in the year-ago period. Total revenues in the first quarter of 2018 were $1.7m compared to $0.9m in the fourth quarter of 2017 and no revenue in the first quarter of 2017.
Meanwhile, the company said it has shipped its first 20-tonne batch of refined lead bullion blocks to Johnson Controls International. The firms agreed to a one-year extension for an equipment supply agreement earlier this month.