Rubicon’s former top executives Luke Moriarty and Mark Taylor have agreed to drop their claim for severance packages in exchange for about $1.8 million of cash and shares. 

The pair had been in charge of the forestry biotech firm since it was formed in 2001 to commercialise innovation during the break-up of Fletcher Challenge, taking assets from the energy and forestry divisions.

They announced their exit last August following a boardroom shake-up, and Rubicon subsequently noted their claim as a contingent liability. 

Rubicon today said all parties reached an amicable settlement, in that Moriarty and Taylor will collectively be paid $100,000 in cash and 9 million shares. At today’s price of 19.3 cents, that amounts to about $1.7 million. 

The first 4 million shares will be allotted on April 1, with the balance to be completed by April 2022. 

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. 

Moriarty got a $650,000 bonus last year for the prior 24-month period, which included Rubicon’s sale of Tenon and acquisition of ArborGen. His base salary was $289,000. 

The $600,000-$610,000 band was Rubicon’s top earner in the March 2018 year, followed by one person on $470,000-$480,000. 

The prior year, Moriarty’s base salary was $578,000, plus a $72,000 retention payment and a $100,000 bonus granted by Tenon’s independent directors for leading the sale process. 

Moriarty held 3.5 million shares at April 30 last year, while Taylor held 1.1 million shares via a superannuation fund. When they set up Rubicon in 2001, Moriarty held about 525,000 shares and pulled down a $425,000 salary. The next highest salary band at the time was $290,000-$300,000. 

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