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Musical chairs: Novonix loses one St Baker from board and gains another

Business

One of Queensland’s wealthiest and most influential families have conducted a high-level game of musical chairs, swapping board places on major power companies in which they hold a key interest.

 

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In an unusual series of announcements Philip St Baker quit his roles with Brisbane battery company Novonix and his father, Trevor, will assume his position on the board as chairman.

Philip will take up a role as chairman of Delta Electricity in NSW, a position that was held by his father.

Trevor St Baker made his mark through energy company ERM, which was bought by Shell last year for $617 million. His St Baker Energy Holdings also holds a 17 per cent stake in Novonix and is its biggest shareholder.

The decision came on Tesla battery day, marked by the showcase from Elon Musk on how the electric car company would design its batteries into the future, which Novonix said aligned with its own thinking.

But Novonix shares dropped 10 per cent after the announcement and another 20 per cent this morning, while Tesla shares also plummeted, losing $A70 billion in value, because of the expected three-year delay in getting the promised cheap cars to market and retailing around $35,000.

Speculators had also been hoping Novonix would be announced as a supplier to Tesla.

Australia Mines, which had been waiting for the Tesla announcement, before progressing talks on offtake agreements for its Sconi nickel and cobalt project in north Queensland, also did badly. Its shares fell 12 per cent on Wednesday.

Lithium miners also took a hammering.

Tesla plans to eliminate cobalt from its batteries to reduce costs. Nickel has had supply issues for Tesla.

Novonix said the departure of Philip St Baker as managing director means Chris Burns will take over as group chief executive. Burns is the co-founder and chief executive of the Novonix Battery Testing Services in Canada and co-developed the company’s battery technology.

Nick Liveris has been appointed chief financial officer. His father, Andrew Liveris, is also a director of Novonix and was previously the chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemicals. He will remain as a director.

The new chief executive said the Tesla rethinking of battery cell manufacturing “exactly aligns” with the Novonix strategy.

“Today’s battery chemistry has proven itself for vehicles and energy storage systems. It just needs to be more affordable,” Burns said.

He said the Novonix anode material processing technology was an example of the low-cost delivery.

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