Rubicon to 'vigorously appeal' ArborGen's US employee complaint

Rubicon will "vigorously appeal any adverse outcome to the South Carolina Court of Appeals" with fellow owners International Paper and MeadWestvaco.

Rubicon [NZX: RBC], the NZX-listed forestry biotech company, will "vigorously appeal" any decision over a US-based employee complaint against its part-owned seedling company, ArborGen.

In a brief statement to the NZX, the Auckland-based forestry company said the judge hearing the ArborGen employee complaint, which was filed in 2010, will soon make a final order and has signalled it is likely to be in favour of the undisclosed plaintiffs. The court is yet to issue a judgment on what the costs and awards to the plaintiffs will be.

Rubicon, which owns one third of ArborGen, will "vigorously appeal any adverse outcome to the South Carolina Court of Appeals" with fellow owners International Paper and MeadWestvaco, and the appeal process could take up to two years. A spokesman for Rubicon declined to add further detail but said the judgment was due in coming weeks.

Last month, Rubicon said ArborGen's global sales rose 17% by volume to 309 million seedlings in the year ended June 30, mainly led by the US market, while revenue grew 17% to $US35 million and the business was on track to turn to positive earnings by the end of calendar 2015.

ArborGen is entering a period of growth, including a 'step-out' expansion in Brazil and organic growth in the US, Rubicon said last month. Funding for the expansion "should ideally be met out of capital raised in an external ArborGen financing event" and it "continues to actively advance this financing objective."

A proposed initial public offering for ArborGen to raise between $US82 million and $US92 million was put on hold in 2011, with owners saying market conditions on Wall Street at the time were too weak. Rubicon reiterated in December that an IPO was still on the cards.

Shares of Rubicon last traded at 33c and have fallen 8.3% since the start of the year.

(BusinessDesk)