ZX Spectrum reboot firm's shareholders demand current directors go

Boardroom coup at where's-my-console biz Retro Computers Ltd

A majority of shareholders in ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd – including Sir Clive Sinclair's corporate presence – are calling a shareholders' meeting to replace its current directors.

A statement from company shareholder Paul Andrews sent to El Reg this morning revealed that he and fellow shareholders Chris Smith and Sinclair Research Ltd are demanding that current RCL directors Dr David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel step down. Levy is the company's chairman and Mrsic-Flogel is its CTO, while Martin is its managing director.

The shareholder majority against RCL's directors sounds the death knell for the firm's current leadership, which has held control of the controversial business for the past two years.

As regular readers know, since that change of command in April 2016, RCL has stagnated, having absorbed half a million pounds of crowdfunded cash and delivered absolutely nothing to show for it. The company was founded by Andrews, Smith and Levy in 2014 to make ZX Spectrum-themed game consoles, and did deliver its original Vega console in 2015. The follow-up machine was a no show.

This morning's statement from Andrew ventured:

We wish it to be known that three of the four shareholders in the company Retro Computers Ltd, (who have a combined shareholding of 75 per cent) those three shareholders being; Sinclair Research Ltd, Paul Andrews, and Chris Smith, have instructed the current directors of Retro Computers Ltd, today Friday the 27th of April 2018, to convene a shareholders meeting at the earliest possible date with two resolutions proposed, that being the removal of the existing directors and the replacement of those directors with one of the choice of the majority of shareholders.

The removal of Levy and Martin would not only give Andrews control of the company but also access to its detailed finances. The Register has seen a copy of what are alleged to be RCL's bank statements, as lodged at Luton County Court during a case against the company, the contents of which make an interesting comparison to RCL's Companies House filings.

Aggrieved and empty-handed crowdfunding customers have closed in on the company, with at least one so far scoring a landmark victory over the firm after Levy, who was acting on the Retro Computers Ltd's behalf, did not attend the county court hearing.

The court ruled that the backer had placed an order for a product, not flung cash speculatively at an idea as RCL had argued in written filings. The Register is aware of a growing number of county court claims against RCL.

We have asked Levy and Martin for comment and will update this article if we hear back from them. ®

Updated at 1249 BST to add: David Levy, chairman of RCL, has been in touch with this statement:

"Earlier this week we quietly advised on social media that we had good news - Retro Computers Ltd will be shipping the first units to backers of our Indiegogo campaign. Shipping will start between May 8th and 12th, 2018. This positive news was greeted by Andrews response as follows 'Just for the record Martin is correct. It's far from over yet.' The only interpretation of this statement can only be that Andrews planned to stop delivery.

"This latest action by Paul Andrews and Chris Smith comes after many other attempts by them, over the past two years, to bring about the demise of Retro Computers Ltd and the Vega+ project whilst simultaneously claiming they had the best interests of the company at heart. Despite their being shareholders in the company they have been pursuing that goal with great vigour, for their own reasons. Because of the many severe problems they have caused since they resigned as directors in April 2016... Retro Computers Ltd has only just now reached the point when shipping of the Vega+ to backers will start.

"Their timing has been prompted, we feel certain, by the knowledge that Retro Computers Ltd has, despite all their efforts, arranged production of the Vega+ and will be shipping the first units to backers."

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