A boardroom coup at BenevolentAI has been completed after all resolutions proposed at its annual general meeting were passed.

Founder Ken Mulvany has ousted Dr François Nader and non-executive directors Dr Olivier Brandicourt, Dr Susan Liautaud and Marcello Damiani. All four resigned at the AGM.

Current CEO Dr Joerg Moeller plus non-executive directors Jean Raby, Prof Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Dr John Orloff continue in their respective positions. Peter Allen, Jeremy Sohn, Ian Nicholson and Mulvany himself have now joined the board.

A chair and the composition of its committees will be determined at the next board meeting.

“Whilst I have only been at the company since the beginning of the year, on behalf of everyone at BenevolentAI, I want to thank Francois, Olivier, Susan and Marcello for their dedication, stewardship and insights over the last several years,” said Dr Moeller.

“In particular, I want to recognise François’ important contribution as acting CEO in the period immediately prior to my appointment and in onboarding me as CEO of BenevolentAI.

“I also want to take this opportunity to welcome Peter, Ken, Ian and Jeremy to the board. I look forward to working closely with them as we continue to focus on executing BenevolentAI’s strategy and on our mission of uniting science and technology to build a leader in AI augmented drug discovery to deliver life-changing medicines to patients.”

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We recently reported how the company is to slash more jobs and close its US office.

In May 2023 the MedTech announced plans to lay off 180 staff, with planned cost savings of £45m intended to extend its cash runway to at least July 2025.

However it now plans to reduce headcount by a further 30% after evaluating its business priorities. It expects to have around 180 staff at the end of 2024.

Mulvany, who founded the company in 2013, left the board 18 months ago when it listed on the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam via a SPAC merger which valued it at more than £1 billion. He retains a stake of more than 23%.

A former darling of the UK AI scene, London-headquartered BenevolentAI has since seen its shares slump by more than 90%, with a market cap today of around £80 million. Mulvany outlined “serious concerns about the company’s cost management, business development resourcing, strategy, investor relations and governance” in a recent letter to then chair Dr Nader.

Baroness Joanna Shields OBE – a former government minister who had built the company up from a startup over five years as CEO – resigned in September amid other executive changes. Dr Nader was appointed interim CEO before Dr Moeller joined in January.

BenevolentAI also saw its CTO leave after seven years at the firm. However it has signed a strategic collaboration with pharma giant Merck KGaA worth a potential $594m.

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