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Tern notes three departures, including its finance chief, to cut costs

10th Aug 2023 13:53

(Alliance News) - Tern PLC on Thursday announced a number of changes to its board in a bid to cut costs, including Chief Financial Officer Sarah Payne leaving to take up a position at another company.

The investment company specialising in supporting early-stage 'internet of things' technology businesses said Payne will step down from her role as CFO and company secretary on or before September 30, but will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

Tern said it expects to appoint a part-time CFO shortly, which will be a non-board position.

Investment Director Matthew Scherba and Business Development Director Bruce Leith also have stepped down from the board, effective immediately.

Tern said Scherba will become full-time chief executive officer at Konektio Ltd this month, having been on secondment to Tern's portfolio company InVMA Ltd.

Leith will remain with Tern as an employee, Tern said.

Following these changes, the board now comprises Non-Executive Chair Ian Ritchie, Senior Independent Non-Executive Director Alan Howarth and outgoing CFO Payne in her new role as non-executive director.

Tern said the board will be supported by a non-board senior executive management team comprising Chief Executive Officer Al Sisto, the now-former business development director Leith, and the yet-to-be-appointed part-time CFO.

Tern also said it was implementing other cost-saving measures, such as moving to a lower-cost office.

It hopes to save around 40% of its overall central costs in 2024 compared to 2022. Tern said no compensation is being paid to any individual for loss of office or the change in their role.

Tern said the board does not intend to invest in any companies outside of its current portfolio until "such time as the company has realised material value from its current portfolio companies".

Non-Executive Chair Ritchie said: "We recognise the desire of shareholders to see a reduction in Tern's central costs whilst maintaining our hands-on approach with our investee companies and focussing on realising value from them. The restructuring we are announcing today, together with other measures we are taking, is designed to significantly reduce our overheads whilst we look to deliver value to our shareholders from the company's investments.

"It is my role as chairman to ensure that the board acts independently and in the interests of all shareholders. I am delighted that we are retaining the services of Sarah Payne as a non-executive director as her skills and experience of Tern will be invaluable as we seek to maximise shareholder returns from our portfolio of exciting IoT businesses."

Ritchie added on the new senior management team: "This is a team that has a deep understand of Tern's portfolio companies and their markets and I believe is best placed to ensure that maximum value is extracted from them, continuing our hands-on approach, in order for Tern to be able to deliver returns to its shareholders.

"Our portfolio companies continue to perform well as leaders in their categories and we look forward to providing a further update with the release of our interim results later this month."

Tern expects to release its interim results for the six months that ended June 30 before the end of this month.

Shares in Tern were up 0.5% to 5.28 pence each in London on Thursday afternoon.

By Greg Rosenvinge, Alliance News reporter

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