In a press release published today, the Board of Directors of bioconvergence group BICO stated that it has: “Full confidence in the CEO, management and current strategic direction.” Why did the company (which is publicly listed on the Nordic NASDAQ) have to come to this dramatic action? Apparently, an internal feud between Co-founders Erik Gatenholm (CEO) and Gusten Danielsson (CFO) has led to the latter accusing the former of the company’s recent bad stock performance (the stock’s price lost 80% since last September) and subsequently being fired by the Board.
3dpbm received a tip from an anonymous account that provided the links to the official press release and to declarations, referenced in the press release, made to Dagens Industri (Sweden’s foremost business publication) by former CFO Gusten Danielsson. According to the declarations in the Dagens Industri story, “Danielsson’s departure as CFO of BICO lowered the share value by 35 percent on Tuesday. While he has not sold any shares, he believes that Erik Gatenholm is no longer the right CEO for the company.”
The 35% drop and the over 80% since September have been confirmed by 3dpbm (see image below), with the leak also reporting about “mass layoffs starting in January […] and not covered by the media yet,” which could be a realistic scenario as the company consolidates recent acquisitions while dealing with the declining stock price.
3dpbm reached out directly to Erik Gatenholm who stated that “the Company is fine, and we are moving ahead with our strategy. Our CFO resigned and we are recruiting a new one.” Mr. Gatenholm also said that reports about mass layoffs are entirely inaccurate.
Update May 1st, 2022: Qi Huan Sng said on LinkedIn that she is starting as the new APAC Marketing Manager at CELLINK, confirming that some changes and reorganizations are taking place at the company.
Update May 2nd, 2022: 3dpbm was able to independently confirm that at least 23 different persons, primarily from the marketing and communications departments, have left the company between January and April 2022. Most had been at the company for around one year but some had been there for short and some for longer periods.
The source also stated that “in general, the perception by the employee base […] is that Erik is unfit to run the company but he has maintained a controlling stake […]”. As supporting evidence, the source points to negative BICO reviews, visible by scrolling through the company’s Glassdoor profile.
In his reply, Carsten Browall, Chairman of the Board of Directors, BICO, stated in the official press release (also linked in the anonymous email that 3dpbm received) that “with regards to ongoing communication in the media and Gusten Danielsson’s statement in Dagens Industri prompted by the fact that he recently chose to resign from his position, the Board of Directors has chosen to address the issue. Both the Board of Directors and management have intended to handle the situation professionally.
“There has been speculation in the media about the incident and the former employee has also quickly expressed opinions about the CEO and the leadership of the company. The Board of Directors would like to point out that the company has been careful to follow both stock exchange rules and labor laws in its communication to the market, as the company’s former CFO is still [under] employment obligations until the notice period of six months ends.
“It is obvious that in recent times there have been divided opinions about the strategic direction. Our focus is now on profitability and the building of a financially sustainable business backed by an experienced and strong finance department. We are now focused on recruiting an experienced and robust CFO who can assist the company in achieving the goals that the market and shareholders expect and that the company has previously communicated.
“Due to speculations, we on the Board of Directors want to make it clear that we are fully united behind the CEO, the management team and the strategy with focus on profitability. The company has great potential and is now entering an important stage for the future,” Browall, concluded.
While 3dpbm should and has to limit its reporting to confirmed facts or to quoting the statements we have received, we can also add that we have seen BICO (Cellink) begin as a tiny bioink startup and grow into a multinational bioconvergence company. Over the past year, BICO invested a large part of the funds it received from going public into acquiring numerous companies and into creating a bioprinting and bioconvergence group. Stock market ups and downs, changes in strategic direction and internal conflicts can often happen in such situations and we sincerely hope that they will be resolved, to the benefit of the entire bioprinting segment.
*This article has been updated on April 29th to reflect Mr. Gatenholm’s direct comments to 3dpbm