Dublin-based Exergyn has become embroiled in a row with its own investors over the future direction of the company and a possible sale to US heating giant Carrier Global.
The clean-tech specialist has attracted global attention by developing and patenting an emissions-free heat pump that contains no refrigerant gases, one of the main causes of global warming.
About a third of global power consumption goes into heating and cooling, and technologies such as Exergyn’s are seen as key to decarbonising the sector, which is estimated to be worth $1 trillion (€830bn).
The company has teamed up with Carrier in an attempt to bring the technology to market. It is also understood to be in talks with the US company about a possible buyout.
Shareholders, however, believe the deal, which has not been disclosed, grossly undervalues the company, and have called on Exergyn’s board to conduct a more transparent auction process.
Last week more than 90 Exergyn investors wrote to the board, saying they had “serious concerns” about the current sale process, and that it “could seriously undervalue the company”.
They also called for removal of Exergyn chairman Tony Ennis, claiming it is was not in Exergyn's best interests to retain him, and that he should "be dismissed on a no-fault basis".
The 93 investors, who say they have invested €5.8 million in the company, called for an appropriate corporate finance house to be engaged to advise Exergyn on how best to maximise the value of the company.
They also expressed unease about Exergyn's L12 heat-pump prototype being shipped to Carrier's base in France later this month for trialling as it could prevent other potential buyers from viewing it.
Two of the company’s largest investors raised similar concerns in a separate letter to the board last month. When contacted by The Irish Times, Exergyn declined to comment.
In a document circulated to investors last week, the company said: “Mr Ennis continues to have our confidence, and has made valuable contributions in his short time as chairman. We look forward to working with him into the future.”
It also said it was planning to update investors on a more regular basis from this week onwards.
The Enterprise Ireland-backed company, set up in 2012 by Alan Healy, Barry Cullen and Kevin O'Toole, has raised €7 million from private investors and up to €20 million when grants, partnerships and sweat equity are included.
Enterprise Ireland said it was not in a position to comment on individual cases.
Florida-based Carrier Global, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of air-conditioning, heating and refrigerator equipment, is said to view Exergyn’s technology as the only scalable solution to the problem of emissions in the HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) sector.
In a recent memo to the board, clean-tech expert Chas Anders Hall, who sits on Exergyn's advisory council, said the company's technology could be worth in excess of $500 million.