Chairman, directors head for the exit at PaperlinX

SIX months after fighting a bid to unseat him as chairman, Harry Boon will soon depart the beleaguered paper distributor PaperlinX, along with two other directors, Anthony Clarke and Lyndsey Cattermole.

SIX months after fighting a bid to unseat him as chairman, Harry Boon will soon depart the beleaguered paper distributor PaperlinX, along with two other directors, Anthony Clarke and Lyndsey Cattermole.

The surprise departures follow a board meeting on Tuesday, and leaves just two board members at the $35 million company: Mike McConnell and Andrew Price, the latter just weeks into the job. Mr Price, a paper industry veteran, agitated for Mr Boon's departure at an extraordinary meeting in March.

PaperlinX's chief financial officer, Wayne Johnston, told BusinessDay yesterday the company hoped to announce replacements next week, before the trio's September 28 departure. An announcement on the chief executive's role, currently filled by Dave Allen, will follow.

No reason was given for the directors' departures, leaving analysts and investors surprised. "You've just had half your board walk out the door," one company-watcher said.

PaperlinX's shares closed down 3.9 per cent at 5.7?, taking its year-to-date decline to 32 per cent, as it battles declining demand for paper, currency losses, the downturn in key markets, and concerns over its debt.

The former CEO Toby Marchant, announcing his departure in July at the end of a review, said the company had "taken major strides towards dealing with our significant issues, in the midst of exceptionally hostile conditions". His announcement followed the departure of former chief financial officer Tony Kennedy, and the retirement of former chairman David Meiklejohn and directors James Hall and Lindsay Yelland.

Mr Boon, the chairman of Tatts Group and a director of Toll Holdings, was contacted for comment. He told BusinessDay last month he regularly met with key shareholders Allan Gray and Maple-Brown Abbott, but "no one's asked me to leave".

PaperlinX posted a widened loss of $266.7 million for the year to June 30, from $108 million the previous year.

The annual general meeting is scheduled for October 31.

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