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Li-Cycle shakes up executives, lays off 17% of workforce

Centralizes corporate structure for efficiency after facing challenges

Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. will lay off 17 per cent of its workforce and onboard a new executive chairman and CFO as the battery materials recycler tries to rebound following a series of financial setbacks.

“We are recalibrating our organizational structure to better align with the more focused priorities of Li-Cycle,” CEO and president Ajay Kochhar said this week in a release.

Executive chairman and co-founder Tim Johnston will be interim non-executive chair as Li-Cycle (LICY-N) considers changes to its board of directors. CFO Debbie Simpson and Europe, Middle East and Africa regional president Richard Storrie will be leaving those positions.

Senior vice-president of projects delivery Conor Spollen has been named COO, while Asia-Pacific regional president Dawei Li will be Li-Cycle’s chief commercial officer.

Approximately 60 positions, largely at the corporate level will be cut, representing approximately one-sixth of Li-Cycle’s global team. The move is part of Li-Cycle’s cash preservation plan, a result of the company’s decision to delay construction of its Rochester Hub due of rising costs.

Due to the setback, which resonated across Li-Cycle, the company is consolidating its operations.

“We believe that a centralized model, and the consolidation of our operational and commercial teams, will increase efficiencies and facilitate cross-functional partnerships to enhance our planning process and ability to execute on our short- and long-term objectives,” Kochhar said.

Li-Cycle’s executive shuffling

Johnston’s next task will be guiding the company as it shifts its board following Glencore’s $101-million investment into Li-Cycle, which also includes some board naming rights. The change is expected to be made around Li-Cycle’s annual general meeting in May, and is to include the naming of an independent board chair.

Spollen, whose previous roles include being COO for Vale Base Metals’ mines and processing facilities, will be managing Li-Cycle’s global Spoke operations and the planned delivery and operation of the Rochester Hub.

As CCO, Li will map out Li-Cycle’s global commercial activities, consolidate a global strategy and build partnerships with parties in key battery markets. His previous role was global business director for lithium carbonate at Albemarle Corporation.

Simpson, who guided Li-Cycle’s finances, will remain with the company until May 31. Craig Cunningham, the former CFO of Electra Battery Materials, a fellow Canadian battery materials company, will then move into the position.

Storie will also stay on until May 31 as an advisor as to support the transition.

Reshaping its business structure

The changes to Li-Cycle’s leadership reflect a broad restructuring as it adapts to several setbacks. Switching from a regional to a centralized management model will increase efficiencies, Li-Cycle says.

Li-Cycle began a strategic review after pausing construction on the Rochester Hub - a battery materials recycling facility - due to construction cost increases. It managed to secure support from miner Glencore, but had to slow production at its Ontario Spoke facility, review Spoke projects in Europe, cut staff and consider changes to its plans for the Rochester Hub.

By laying off 17 per cent of its workforce, Li-Cycle will save approximately $10 million in payroll and benefits costs per year, the release states. The company made cuts to its workforce after announcing its Q3 2023 financial results that showed the depth of its struggles to construct the Rochester Hub.

Kochhar said Li-Cycle remains focused on completing its review of a plan for the Rochester Hub and looking into more funding and additional “strategic alternatives.”

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