The assets of failed fruit analytics technology company Ripetime have been bought uncontested by investors at the centre of the bitter shareholders divide that led to liquidation.
Ripetime chairman Ross Shannon said he had successfully offered liquidators $100,000 for the company’s assets, but he and former investors of Ripetime would not be using any of these, or Ripetime’s intellectual property, in their new Australia-based venture Post Harvest.
“We simply wish to ensure that they’re not available for anyone to use to make mischief.”
Shannon said individuals representing 87 per cent of all shareholdings in Ripetime had been offered shares in Post Harvest, and all but one had accepted.
Liquidators Conor McElhinney and Kare Johnstone of McGrathNicol said 56 parties had expressed interest in the assets, but an entity associated with Ross Shannon and Jonathan Shannon had been the only bidder in the end.
Ripetime was not trading when McGrathNicol was called in as administrator.
The liquidation has yet to be completed but the first six monthly report said at this stage no surplus funds were expected to be available to pay unsecured creditors.
Ripetime and its technology, used to detect the beginnings of spoilage in fruit, was founded in 2016 by Jon Lowy and Grant Sargent of Auckland. During efforts to commercialise the technology, they fell out with the Shannons, who claimed to have been the company’s major funders, aside from $1 million from the Callaghan Institute and IRD R&D credits.
The relationship further soured when the Shannons in 2018 registered a company in Australia called Ripetime Pty Ltd. It was later renamed Post Harvest.
After Ripetime collapsed in July last year, the liquidators told the Herald part of the job was probing an allegation that a company registered in Australia, or other parties, “may have misappropriated Ripetime’s intellectual property and other assets”. The allegation was made by Lowy.
Post Harvest had applied for a patent for a sensor to detect ripening of fresh produce in the supply chain to reduce food wastage.
The liquidators’ interim report quashed the allegation after an investigation involving patent specialist A J Park, which found Post Harvest’s technology was different from Ripetime’s.
However, there were questions around whether the Shannons breached Intellectual Property Rights Act by setting up the Australian company while they were directors of Ripetime, and should have resigned from the New Zealand company.
The matter was reported to the Companies Office, which told the Herald that based on information so far there was insufficient evidence to progress the investigation.
The liquidators’ earlier interim report noted another Lowy company, Salvo, withheld some Ripetime assets, claiming a lien over them for unpaid debts.
The liquidators had incurred “considerable” time and cost recovering these assets, which are included in the sale of Ripetime’s assets, previously listed as net $2.45 million with liabilities of $1.29m.
Salvo, a technology incubator, was put into liquidation in February. Lowy is the sole shareholder and director.
Salvo liquidator Gareth Hoole of Ecovis KGA said the principal reason given for the failurewas that its main creditor Ripetime had failed, causing significant funding problems for Salvo.
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