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Tirupati to remain listed, shuffles board

7th March 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Following recent speculation among investors, London-listed Tirupati Graphite has confirmed that there are no plans to take the company private, emphasising that the board remains confident that being listed on the LSE will help the company grow.

Since its initial public offering in December 2020, Tirupati has developed and commissioned two graphite projects in Madagascar, making it one of the five largest non-Chinese graphite companies by production capacity and one of only three publicly listed commercial-scale producers.

“Since the admission to the LSE . . . the company has achieved significant milestones towards its goals. We remain committed to being a public company and to the London market.

“Our developments will support the global needs for this critical mineral. The team is determined to make the company the leading graphite producer outside of China and to play an essential role in the energy transition,” executive chairperson Shishir Poddar said on March 7.

PROJECTS

In addition to its operational Madagascar projects, the company has acquired two development-stage projects in Mozambique. These projects host higher percentages of finer-flake graphite used in lithium-ion batteries and have the potential to provide the company with sufficient resources to achieve its long-term goal of establishing capacity equivalent to 8% of global demand across its projects in Madagascar and Mozambique in the longer term.

This is equivalent to about 400 000 t/y according to research by various sources, which suggests overall global flake graphite demand is to exceed five-million tonnes a year by 2030.

In January, Tirupati said its operations in Madagascar were continuing across the two projects, having been optimised further using the proceeds of a recent fundraise.

The company remains committed to pursuing options to secure additional funding for the balance of about £1-million in working capital required to bring its production up to the near-term target of 1 500 t to 1 600 t a month on a consistent basis.

To this end, Tirupati said recent meetings held with the Madagascar government for the release of value-added tax refunds of about $2-million have added confidence that these funds will be returned to the company imminently.

Further, the establishment of working capital facilities from the company’s bankers in Madagascar are being progressed, supported by a personal guarantee to be provided by the executive chairperson.

Additionally, due diligence work continues with development finance institutions for funding the expansion of the company’s effective production in Madagascar, first to 36 000 t/y in the near term and thereafter to 54 000 t/y through the addition of a new 18 000 t/y module.

“We have overcome significant operational challenges. We are now working to secure the modest amount of working capital required to ramp up production with the target of becoming the first profitable junior graphite company outside China,” Poddar said.

BOARD CHANGES

As part of an ongoing process to freshen and strengthen its board of directors, Tirupati has announced several changes.

Tirupati corporate and business development chief Puruvi Poddar and corporate and business development associate Alastair Bath will join the board in executive roles, with Puruvi Poddar appointed to the board as joint MD with immediate effect.

Puruvi Poddar joined the company on August 1, 2018, as a material science engineer graduated from the University of Manchester.

Over the years, she has contributed to an array of activities such as the marketing and sales of Tirupati products. Her corporate activities include being a co-author of the company's listing prospectus, yearly reports and detailed feasibility studies, as well as being the sole author of the company's maiden sustainability report, co-managing the operations of the company's projects in Madagascar and managing general affairs of the business of the company and its development.

Tirupati says Puruvi Poddar has acquired a deep understanding of graphite and its markets, its applications and customer expectations, which is a key area for the company's success. She also manages the company's social media and investor relations.

Bath, who is located in London, will be appointed to the board as an executive director.

He holds a postgraduate diploma in law, with an international commodity trading background. Bath joined the company as an associate in the corporate and business development team on May 31, last year.

Since joining, he has worked in various areas including coordinating activities with the company's registrars and secretary, interactions with governmental authorities across jurisdictions, engaging with foreign missions, documentation with contracting parties for business and project development, attending international trade shows related to graphite markets and supporting the marketing of the company's flake graphite products, research and identification of opportunities within the evolving battery and electric vehicle sectors and assisting in social media and investor relations.

Bath’s presence in London as an executive director is expected to provide the company with stronger investor relations management and interface with company stakeholders.

Meanwhile, nonexecutive director Murat Erden has resigned with immediate effect owing to personal reasons. However, he will remain a senior adviser to the board.

Given his extensive experience in senior executive financial roles, Tirupati said it expects Erden to play a crucial role in providing independent guidance to the board on debt and other financing engagements, long-term commercial contracts and similar strategic activities.

The search has started for two nonexecutive directors to join the board, with one appointment having experience of the mineral processing industry, to progress corporate governance reforms.

The search has also begun to appoint a CFO, preferably located in the UK, and discussions are currently ongoing with London-based candidates.

"We are conscious that the composition of the board needs balancing with the appointment of experienced and independent nonexecutives and a finance executive. We have started the search for these appointments,” Shishir Poddar said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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