Norton Motors’ chief executive and chief financial officer have quit just three months before the revival of the famous British bike brand begins in the UK.
The move comes amid a series of set-backs over the finance of the project, with a share issue intended to raise up to $15m on the New York stock market postponed for a second time.
Attempts have been made to shore up the company’s finances with further appeals for funds to private investors.
Former chief executive officer Bob Cieslukowski said he and his son Steve, who was chief financial officer, resigned over differences in the company’s direction. He also claimed that Norton’s major North American shareholders were failing to meet funding commitments.
Al Melling, the UK-based technical director of Norton, strongly denied the claims. He said the Cieslukowskis were fired because the board was dissatisfied with their fund-raising performance a claim disputed by the Cieslukowskis.
In a letter circulated to about two dozen private investors in Norton on 5 November, Bob Cieslukowski described the situation at the company as ‘totally unacceptable’. He wrote: ‘I could not, in good conscience, continue in such an atmosphere.’
Mark Osterberg, formerly chief financial officer at North West Airlines, has been appointed as the new CFO at Norton. Myron Calof returns to the position of CEO, which he held before Bob Cieslukowski took over the job in August this year.
According to Melling, the Rochdale-based engineer who has designed the new bike range and is one of the biggest investors in the project, $4m is due in over the next two weeks from new private investors in Norton.
He said finance is in place to continue testing and production of the bike range, led by the £30,000 Nemesis superbike. ‘The company is probably in better shape than ever now,’ he said.
A US source close to Norton said he believed funding for the project was less than had been agreed initially, but that Melling may be resourceful enough to complete the job.
Production tooling has been completed, and assembly will start by the second quarter of next year. Norton plans to assemble 600 bikes next year, rising to 2,500 by 2001, and creating up to 30 jobs at a UK assembly location yet to be decided.