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Leadership Shakeup at Nickel 28: CEO and Team Axed Amid Misconduct Claims


Benjamin Hughes

May 6, 2024 - 15:25 pm


Turmoil at Nickel 28: CEO and Founders Ousted Amidst Allegations of Serious Misconduct

In a dramatic turn of events, Nickel 28 Capital Corp. has announced the immediate termination of its founding members, including the Chief Executive Officer Anthony Milewski, as an investigation brought to light allegations of "serious misconduct."

Leaders Dismissed After Probe Reveals Major Missteps

The nickel and cobalt production company stated on Monday that after a thorough assessment by an independent special committee, the board discerned substantial evidence indicative of breaches of duty and repeated poor judgment on the part of the management team. The fired team, which also included President Justin Cochrane and Chief Financial Officer Conor Kearns, was accused of engaging in actions unbecoming of their positions within the firm.

Anthony Milewski, courtesy of Bloomberg, serves as a reminder of the recently dismissed CEO's once-eminent role in the company.

Disputed Claims and the Battle Behind the Scenes

In a forceful rebuttal, Milewski and his team denied the allegations in a separate statement. They stand firm in their belief that their sudden removal is not a mere consequence of the investigation but rather a strategic maneuver in an ongoing power struggle within the company, spearheaded by the top shareholder, Pelham Investment Partners LP. The New York-based hedge fund has yet to respond to the claims made against it.

As turmoil grips Nickel 28 in the midst of this internal upheaval, the repercussions resonate through an industry already facing uncertainty. The demand for electric vehicles, a significant driver for battery metals, experiences a lull in critical markets, exemplifying the volatility that veterans of the commodities trade, like Milewski, are no strangers to. In his previous endeavor, Milewski presided over the accumulation of the largest private cobalt reserve worldwide just prior to an abrupt market downturn in 2018. Unfazed by past experiences, he went on to establish Nickel 28 with the intent to forge ahead in the battery-metal sphere.

Nickel 28 has built a portfolio of interests and royalties in several international mining ventures, encompassing regions from Canada and Australia to Papua New Guinea. These projects focus heavily on the extraction of nickel and cobalt, two pivotal components in the production of batteries.

Shareholder Actions and Accusations of Misguided Oversight

Pelham cast light on its growing concerns over the company's directionality in March 2023 by initiating a tender offer to bolster its ownership stake, challenging the adequacy of independent oversight and critiquing what it perceived to be exorbitant executive compensation. This move precipitated its bid to appoint new directors onto the board. Consequently, in August, the board experienced significant restructuring including bringing on board Pelham founder Ned Collery and Brett Richards, the CEO of Goldshore Resources Inc. Subsequent to these changes, the founders have accused the board of overstepping their bounds and second-guessing management's decisions.

Further aggravating the conflict, the ostracized founders allege that Collery and Richards orchestrated a biased investigation, which was marred by potential conflicts of interest and culminated in the illegal withholding of rightful compensation alongside their improper dismissals. In light of these contentious actions, the founders have not ruled out seeking legal avenues for recourse, expressing a willingness to pursue litigation should negotiations fail to yield an amicable solution.

Investigation and Company Policy Breaches

The special committee charged with running the investigation was convened in the early days of December 2023. The probe scrutinized the "historical compensation arrangements," including those shaped by the company’s omnibus long-term incentive plan. The board's statement remained cryptic, eschewing details on the specific company policies violated, but made it clear that the panel also examined adherence to insider trading and expense policies.

With the succession plan triggered by the leadership crisis, Director Christopher Wallace has been designated as the interim CEO, charged with steering the company during these turbulent times.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P. has been credited for the original information pertaining to this unfolding story, providing the necessary context and background on the high-stakes wrangling amongst the board and management at Nickel 28 Capital Corp.

Uncertain Future and Industry Implications

The strife within Nickel 28 epitomizes the broader challenges facing companies in the realm of battery metals. The company, situated amidst promising mining operations across multiple continents, faces a critical juncture. Nickel and cobalt are commodities tied closely to the ebbs and flows of the technological sector, particularly the electric vehicle market, which makes the stability and governance of companies like Nickel 28 pivotal for the industry.

Despite the internal disputes, Nickel 28 continues to play a key role in the supply chain for electronic vehicles, making the outcomes of these recent events particularly significant. The markets have historically been sensitive to news affecting key players in the production of battery metals, and this situation has the potential to cause ripples that could influence battery metal prices and availability.

Looking Ahead: The Path Forward for Nickel 28

As interim CEO Christopher Wallace takes the helm in the interim, stakeholders and industry watchers alike will be paying close attention to how the company navigates through the corporate governance turbulence. The company's ability to assuage investor fears and stabilize its leadership will be essential to its continued success and might serve as a case study for other firms in the sector regarding the importance of transparency and the handling of internal conflicts.

The possibility of legal battles looms over the outcome of the independent investigation and subsequent firings. Should the founders choose to engage in a legal fight, the proceedings could provide a window into the internal workings of Nickel 28 and possibly expose the root causes of the breakdown in corporate governance. Moreover, such publicity could invite further scrutiny from industry regulators and impact investor confidence.

Companies across the battery-metal industry, especially those looking to solidify their standing or to expand, will likely observe the Nickel 28 situation closely. The effectiveness of the company's board to manage crises, and the reaction of its strategic shareholders, such as Pelham, may offer lessons in shareholder activism, executive accountability, and the importance of alignment between a company's leadership and its vision for the future.

Conclusion: Stability and Governance Key to Weathering Industry Storms

Nickel 28's recent upheaval underscores the need for robust corporate governance mechanisms within the resource sector. As the company contends with its ongoing power struggle, stakeholders continue to assess the implications for the battery-metal market. At the heart of the matter is the push and pull between management autonomy, board oversight, and shareholder expectations — a delicate balance that, when upset, can lead to significant institutional shake-ups.

As the dimensions of this complex situation at Nickel 28 continue to unfold, the industry will keep its eyes fixed on the impact of this shake-up and whether it signifies a broader shift within the resource sector. The company's response to this crisis, and how effectively it restores order within its ranks, will be indicative of the resilience and adaptability not only of Nickel 28 but also of the broader battery-metal industry it represents.

Amid the vicissitudes of economies and markets, the saga of Nickel 28 is a compelling narrative of ambition, conflict, and the struggle for control. As this story develops, only time will unravel the ultimate fate of the company and the sector it serves. The forthcoming chapters promise to be filled with strategic maneuvering, legal battles, and potentially, a reinvigorated path toward stability.

For more detailed information on Nickel 28 Capital Corp. and the unfolding situation, including comments and reactions from the involved parties, please refer to the detailed coverage provided by Bloomberg (URL to be added by the user).

In the end, how Nickel 28 navigates this governance storm, at a time when the global spotlight increasingly falls on sustainable and ethical resource extraction for crucial commodities like nickel and cobalt, may well define not just its corporate legacy, but also blaze a trail for the future conduct and oversight of the resource industry at large.

With the responsibility now on the shoulders of an interim CEO and the esteemed board tasked with ushering in a new era for Nickel 28, the industry awaits the outcomes that these corporate shifts will precipitate. The coming months will likely serve as a testament to the company's resilience and its capacity to reconcile the interests of all stakeholders while pushing forth in a competitive and rapidly evolving market landscape.

The repercussions of the fallout at Nickel 28 are still being measured, and the world watches with bated breath as the next moves are made and the dust settles on this corporate battlefield. The very fabric of the company is being tested, and with it, the fortitude of the battery-metal sector.

As the global demand for greener technologies presses on, and the need for the minerals that power them grows, the actions and governance of companies like Nickel 28 carry weighty implications for the future. This is a pivotal moment, not only for the players directly involved but for all stakeholders in the technological revolution that hinges on the ethical and responsible supply of vital resources.