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Founder faces expulsion in company row

Date

John Thistleton

Sylvia Tulloch.

Sylvia Tulloch. Photo: Glen McCurtayne

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been hauled into an unseemly boardroom struggle in a Queanbeyan-based company she visited in October last year.

Co-founder of solar technology company Dyesol Sylvia Tulloch said her four fellow directors were unavailable to welcome Ms Gillard in October when the Prime Minister visited to support a clean energy future.

The scientist who moved to a little farm at Burra with her husband, Gavin, and established the solar enterprise that later acquired a market capitalisation of $150 million, has fallen out with directors.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard tours the Dyesol Solar Design Factory with Dr Yanek Hebting, Materials Research and Development Manager, in Queanbeyan.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard tours the Dyesol Solar Design Factory with Dr Yanek Hebting, Materials Research and Development Manager, in Queanbeyan. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen / Fairfax

They are recommending shareholders not re-elect Mrs Tulloch at Dyesol's annual general meeting on November 30, because of an outstanding $300,000 loan.

Chairman Richard Caldwell said claims about Ms Gillard were rubbish.

''It would have been great to meet the PM. We'd all be honoured to. I think I was overseas at the time. [Mrs Tulloch] is the local director, it was sensible for her to meet her.''

Dyesol listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005 on its way to commercialising a Swiss scientist's creation of artificial photosynthesis which is now sought by major companies worldwide.

Still in a fund raising stage, the company has been loaning money to Tulloch Management Pty Ltd, from which the Tullochs have drawn to repay debts accumulated while establishing the enterprise.

Former Australian Capital Tourism Corporation chief Ross MacDiarmid was the Australian chief executive at Queanbeyan before moving on to his current role as the Australian Mint chief executive.

Mr Caldwell said disagreement with the Tullochs came to a head earlier this year when the loan was not repaid.

He said the Tullochs had been paid $500,000 per annum since the company had listed.

In more recent years Dyesol's market capital of $30 million had slumped from $150 million when the solar industry plummeted, coinciding with governments withdrawing feed in tariffs.

''Investors have run for the door in the absence of any certainty.

''It also presents opportunities because the companies that survive these sorts of rationalisation periods usually emerge very strongly and quite often go on to re-establish their value for shareholders.''

Mrs Tulloch said it was conventional wisdom for founders to step back to let companies grow, but just as Steve Jobs had shown with Apple, when disaster followed it was appropriate to return.

But instead of accepting her suggestions, Mrs Tulloch said: ''I sit in a boardroom, I've got four suits shouting at me.''

The Tullochs borrowed from Dyesol rather than selling big parcels of shares and repaid the loans, but on the last occasion, were not given an extension, even though they had personally supported the whole project from 2000 to 2004.

Mrs Tulloch said when they wanted to sell shares worth $800,000 the share price was 70 to 80 cents. (This week Dyesol is trading at 14 to 15 cents).

''Dyesol is my life's work and these people have taken it to where it is today.''

John Thistleton is a Dyesol shareholder.

6 comments

  • I can't see why Gillard has to be drawn into this boardroom struggle. And why should other board members simply "accept" another member's suggestions? Silly article!

    Commenter
    Sharron
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    November 09, 2012, 9:22AM
    • "we don't need our PM getting involved in such internal stupid matters"
      Bill :- She is not even remotely involved and Dyesol to date has got the bulk of
      their research money from Share Holders ,Welsh Gov't , Ohio/US Govt and TATA .

      "It amazes me that some companies, after getting large grants, turn from their core
      business and become bankers."
      Long Memory :- Dyesol is no involved in banking in any way.
      Dyesol holds all the Blocking IP , Consumable Production, Production Lines IP ,
      and Research for Third Generation Solar (DSC)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyesol

      "I can't see why Gillard has to be drawn into this boardroom struggle. And why
      should other board members simply "accept" another member's suggestions?
      Silly article! " Sharron :- Spot on. The Canberra Times should retract the whole
      Article as it is full of half truths.

      Commenter
      The Dyesol Kid
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 5:24PM
  • It amazes me that some companies, after getting large grants, turn from their core busines and become bankers.

    Commenter
    Long Memory
    Date and time
    November 09, 2012, 1:24PM
    • What's the Government and Tax payers "got do with private enterprise", I don' t like Juliar, but really common sense, we don't need our PM getting involved in such internal stupid matters. I lost money in shares, superannuation, Melbourne Cup bad investments, Global Warning not warming, and what? I have to call my MP to the rescue get a life guys, all this shambolic energy "new eco" unproven methods are risky, SO please don't expect the tax payers to come to your aid anytime soon, investors be aware, You want to make money fast, there are risk involved.

      Commenter
      Bill Taylor
      Location
      Glen Alpine NSW
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 3:11PM
      • Glen Alpine: try getting our PMs first name correct, this gives a clue as to where you are coming from!.

        Commenter
        colindale
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        November 09, 2012, 3:37PM
        • Stay out of it Gillard, everything else you touch or your cohorts touch stuff up.
          Its private enterprise, nothing to do with you.

          Commenter
          COOL OLD DOG
          Location
          ACT
          Date and time
          November 09, 2012, 4:51PM
          Comments are now closed
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