`Board sacked me,' claims biotechnology group founder

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The Independent Online
Glen Travers, founder of the Cortecs bio-technology group, claimed yesterday that he was in effect sacked by the company on Monday and had not resigned as the board had claimed.

The 42-year-old Anglo-Australian entrepreneur claimed he was invited to resign as chairman and chief executive "without warning" at 11am on Monday. Having said he would need to consult his lawyers first he was then telephoned at the offices of Fox Williams, his legal advisers, that afternoon and told that a statement was being issued announcing his resignation. "A few minutes later the company secretary said that the press release had already been issued and it could not be withdrawn," said Mark Watson, employment law partner at Fox Williams.

Though Mr Travers remains a director of the company, it is understood he is not seeking re-instatement.

He left the company partly due to investor concern about his combined role as chairman and chief executive. There were also concerns about slow progress in signing licensing deals to develop the company's main product, Macrotonin, a treatment for osteoporosis

On Monday, Cortecs announced that Lord Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, was moving up to become chairman and Dr Michael Flynn would become acting chief executive.

Cortecs yesterday said it had no further comment to make.

A spokesman for Mr Travers said he had issued his statement to clarify the events leading to his departure. "Having built this company all by himself, it's a bit of a shock when you have your baby taken away without any notice." His statement included some bizarre additions. As well as details of the company's performance and Mr Travers' role in building it up, it attempted to dispel allegations of an extravagant lifestyle. These have included use of the company's pounds 200,000 private helicopter.

The statement says the "helicopter service" was provided following the company's decision to move its head office to North Wales in an attempt to cut costs. Several of of the management team then used it to commute from their London homes to Deeside. The statement says that of the 119 helicopter journeys conducted between September 1997 to July this year, 16.8 per cent of them were undertaken by Mr Travers compared to 25.2 per cent by Martin Preuveneers, chief operating officer and 14.3 per cent by the former finance director.