Having found itself fighting a resolution from Crystal Amber to remove chairman Harry Rein, Allied Minds is exploring its options for the future.

Allied Minds, the US-based commercialisation firm, is facing a resolution put forward by activist shareholder Crystal Amber to have chairman Harry Rein removed.

The firm will hold a general meeting on April 5 and has advised shareholders to vote against the resolution.

Rein became chairman in March 2020, replacing Jeff Rohr ahead of schedule and after only one year because of pressure from Crystal Amber.

Crystal Amber’s resolution is indeed the latest in an increasingly long line of manoeuvres against its perceived mismanagement of Allied Minds, stretching back to the ousting of chief executive Jill Smith in June 2019.

Allied Minds subsequently moved to co-CEOs – Michael Turner and Joseph Pignato – but only six months later Turner left and Pignato remained as sole chief executive.

Allied Minds, listed on the London Stock Exchange, has failed to grow the value of its shares and they have consistently traded below the initial price since early 2017.

The firm has managed to generate some returns, most notably through selling its majority stake in HawkEye 360, a US-based data gathering satellite operator exploiting Virginia Tech research, for $65.6m in September 2019 but its revenues evaporated in the first half of 2020 and the firm ran up a loss of $18.3m.

In January 2021, Allied Minds gave up on the idea of having a chief executive altogether when Pignato also decided to resign; since then the board has managed the portfolio.

In an unusual twist, Crystal Amber itself has failed to convince its own shareholders to vote for a continuation of its operation in November 2021 and the fund is expected to wind down within two years.

It is a fate that may yet await Allied Minds, as the firm revealed it had now launched a formal review of its strategic options to rid itself of the prohibitive costs associated with being publicly listed. The scenarios being explored include a sale and a restructuring that would distribute certain assets and cash reserves back to shareholders.

Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).