Controversial Hell Pizza director Warren Powell has left the fast-food chain to move to San Francisco.

Fellow director Callum Davies confirmed that Powell had left the company after eight years, as predicted in the Herald on Sunday last month.

A statement on the fast-food chain's Facebook page said Powell had decided to sell his shares in the chain, which is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, to New Zealand-based business partners Davies and Stu McMullin.

Powell has had to fend off a range of unrelated problems posed by the disclosure of some of his historical emails. This week, he explained his role in providing negative information about Hell to the media before he and his fellow directors bought it back at a knock-down price.


Emails show Powell gave out information, including that sales had plummeted year-on-year and that the new owners wanted to reduce portion sizes.

In response to learning the newspaper had the emails, Powell wrote: "I simply responded to an email enquiry from [a reporter. His] approach initiated the story. I did not. And TPF [Tasman Pacific Group] were made aware of my correspondence."

Months later, he, Davies and McMullin bought Hell back for about $10 million less than TPF had paid for it two years earlier. Powell wrote to a colleague: "This could be fun", after the emails to the media.

Tasman Pacific had offers higher than the $3.5m offered to them by Powell and his associates. But they were vetoed by Powell, who had written in first-refusal rights when they sold the company.