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TruScreen director Tim Preston threw down a challenge to other board members in opting not to seek re-election at last week’s annual meeting, saying the NZAX-listed cervical cancer test developer’s governance needed greater diversity and a wider skillset.
Mr Preston, a founder of corporate advisory firm CM Partners, joined the TruScreen board in 2014 before its compliance listing that year and had unanimous board support for re-election in the notice of meeting to shareholders on September 5. However, the company said he withdrew his nomination and the resolution was not put to shareholders. The National Business Review reported media were barred from Thursday’s meeting.
Mr Preston told BusinessDesk his decision was "a statement to the board and all our shareholders that it is time to refresh the board, look at our diversity and get the right people at the top for the next phase of TruScreen’s journey."
He said he was brought on the board ahead of the public float because of his expertise in capital markets.
TruScreen’s board needed "people who know how to roll out a major product in international markets," he said.
Mr Preston also said he has been a "bit of a champion over the past 12 months around the board table" saying the company is a cervical cancer screening company but has no women on the board.
He said he had planned to stand again but then had a "really good think about it" and hoped his decision would be a catalyst as "boards are not collegiate things; they are not forever and they are ever-evolving and it’s my responsibility as an independent director to make sure there are proper people in place on the board to take it to the next stage," he said.
TruScreen’s board appears to have accepted Mr Preston’s advice.
"Mr Preston’s retirement from the board allows TruScreen to identify and appoint a new director with appropriate skills and capabilities who will add value to the company as we move into the commercial growth phase of our journey and build our global presence," chief executive Martin Dillon told BusinessDesk.
Chairman Robert Hunter told shareholders last week the company’s ability to fully begin its commercialisation phase in the current financial year was hampered by delays in gaining of CFDA approval in China. However, Mr Dillon said it anticipated receiving approval in the third quarter and "will then quickly move to commercialise TruScreen2 in the eight provinces in China where we already have pricing approval and distributor arrangements."
TruScreen’s test uses a digital wand, which is placed on the surface of the cervix, to measure electrical and optical signals from the surrounding tissue and can operate outside the traditional laboratory infrastructure to give immediate test results.
The Auckland company reported a net loss of $1.3 million in the year ended March 31, from $692,077 a year earlier. The NZAX-listed shares last traded at 17.5c and have dropped 2.8% in the past 12 months.