Jan Cameron, the founder of adventure clothing group Kathamdnu, is behind the Black Prince Private Foundation, the biggest shareholder in Bellamy’s now wanting to gut the infant formula maker’s board of directors.
The infighting among shareholders follows the sudden end of the stellar growth in sales of the company’s organic baby formula to China.
The company last week pushed out its CEO, Laura McBain, cut its profit guidance again and saw its share price slide to less than a third of the value of its year high of $15.38. Today the shares are trading at $4.04, down another 1.9%.
The ownership of Black Prince, based in the secretive tax haven of Curacao, a Dutch territory in the Caribbean, has been in question since it earlier this month gave notice that it intended to push a vote to get rid of four of the company’s directors.
That vote is expected to be put to shareholders before the end of February. If successful, Patria Mann, Launa Inman, Michael Wadley and Charles Sitch would step down as directors.
That would leave just the chairman, Rob Woolley.
In their place, Black Prince wants four new non-executive directors: Jan Cameron, Chan Wai-Chan, Vaughan Webber and Rodd Peters. Peters is an authorised representative of the foundation.
Black Prince owns 14.48% of the company’s shares. Cameron has 2% of Bellamy’s in her own name.
Today Bellamy’s forced Black Prince to reveal the ownership structure using provisions under the Corporations Act.
The ultimate beneficiary of the Black Prince is the Elsie Cameron Foundation, set up as an environmental charity by Cameron and named after her mother.
The Elsie Cameron Foundation is known to be a supporter of animal rights. It has funded the Brightside Farm Sanctuary, a home in Tasmania for farm animals and companion animals, and the Animal Justice Fund.
Cameron is a trustee of the Elsie Cameron Foundation along with Rod Peters.
According to Bellamy’s, the response from Black Prince states it would act in accordance with the wishes of the Elsie Cameron Foundation as expressed by its trustees — essentially Cameron.
However, Cameron says she doesn’t have any financial benefit or personal interest in the Black Prince Foundation, according to the AFR.
Cameron also wants to see the deposed CEO, McBain, who spent a decade building the business with China, back running Bellamy’s.
The company now expects full year revenue to be in the range of $220 million to $240 million, at best flat on 2015 and well below previous analyst expectations of about $330 million.
Sales in China for the organic infant formula maker hit a speed bump when China changed regulations requiring registration.
This caused a wave of discounting which left Bellamy’s high end product sitting in warehouses unsold.
Facing overproduction and being left with stock it couldn’t sell, Bellamy’s renegotiated a supply agreement Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, reducing production.
At the end of December the company estimates that it had inventory levels valued at between $105 million to $110 million, representing almost six months worth of revenue.