September 23, 2011 11:23 pm

Synchronica shares fall as chief resigns

Shares in Synchronica fell by almost a third after a boardroom battle over the direction that the mobile software group should take prompted the chief executive and chief operating officer to resign.

Carsten Brinkschulte and Nicole Meissner, who co-founded Synchronica in 2004 and are married, on Thursday stepped down from the Aim-traded group following a dispute over how it should be restructured.

The effect of their departure was compounded by the announcement that $2m of payments to Synchronica would be delayed due to supply issues with several device manufacturers.

Synchronica shares fell by 31.4 per cent, or 4.55p, to 9.95p.

People close to the situation said the board disagreed with Mr Brinkschulte and Ms Meissner over how to cut costs at Synchronica, which develops and markets software products for mobile devices.

Mr Brinkschulte and Ms Meissner believed that the group should enhance its focus on the North American market and move the company’s headquarters to Montreal – a view that the board did not agree with.

On August 1, Synchronica completed a $15m fundraising to pay for Nokia’s operator brand messaging business, which it bought for a $4m initial cash consideration.

The software allows mobile operators to bundle email, instant messaging and social networking features into the devices they sell to customers, including services such as MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Google’s Gmail and their equivalent chat functions.

David Johnson, an analyst at Northland Capital Partners, said Friday’s announcement was “very disappointing so soon after the acquisition of the Nokia operator brand messaging business and placing at 16p per share”.

“The loss of the chief executive, who was also a key salesman, as well as the head of marketing is a blow as Synchronica enters the critical fourth-quarter selling period. As a result, sales we would have expected to fall in the fourth quarter will certainly slip and this will knock on into full-year 2012.”

Synchronica, which is based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on Friday appointed David Mason as executive chairman and Angus Dent, previously chief financial officer, as chief executive. Arthur Phillips, Synchronica’s company secretary, will become interim chief financial officer.

Mr Mason has been non-executive chairman at Synchronica for four years, while Mr Dent has been on the board for five years.

“The board therefore believes both [Mr Mason and Mr Dent] have the skills and experience necessary to see the business through its next phase of its development,” Synchronica said, adding that it would “seek to strengthen the board over the coming months”.

Mr Brinkschulte and Ms Meissner, who built up Synchronica from a two-person operation to an international mobile technology company with 380 staff in offices in Berlin, Manila, Montreal, Mumbai and in several locations across the US, declined to comment.

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