Take the money or risk a bullet, says Murray Goulburn chair John Spark

The explanatory memorandum was released on Wednesday which recommended investors accept the 80¢ per share takeover bid from the Canucks from Saputo.
These are the same investors who flooded in a few years back with $500 million cash – which gave them shares at $2.10 each, but no voting rights.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

“I acknowledge and appreciate that there is some disappointment among many of our shareholders with the commercial position that MG is currently in,” said the company’s chairman John Spark.
He was appointed last year to shut the gate after the prize cow had well and truly bolted.
Spark warned investors that faced the prospect of “substantial loss of value in the near term and risk the viability of the business in the medium term” unless they agreed to inject a substantial amount of cash into the business.

Given that Sparksie is the former head of insolvency and turnaround firm Ferrier Hodgson, that should have given everyone pause for thought.

The Independent Expert Grant Samuel was even more explicit: ‘‘There would be a real prospect of further milk losses taking Murray Goulburn past a tipping point that would precipitate loss of financier support and wholesale destruction of equity value.’’

At least Spark had some good news. The sale of all the business to Saputo would kill off one of the rorts that emerged just as the business was hitting the skids: The massive 53 per cent increase in directors’ fees that was introduced by former chairman Philip Tracy.

If the deal is approved, the MG corporate entity will retain $195 million to fund any adverse litigation outcomes. This will be overseen by a board of five who will oversee the wind up of the company once legal matters are settled and any remaining funds distributed to investors.

Letting go of the other directors will reduce board fees to just $478,500.

“This is a reduction of approximately 71 per cent from the total fees currently paid,” the company explains in the memorandum.

That is some solace for poor investors, and the dairy farmers who currently control of the operation.
Soft sell

Aconex founders Leigh Jasper and Rob Phillpot will walk away with a $190 million cash pay day after investors welcomed the $1.56 billion bid from US software giant, Oracle Corp.

Not bad for a company that was started over games of squash and listed in 2014 at $2.20 a share.

And boy did that Oracle offer hurt a lot of short sellers who were betting that the cloud-based construction management service was another tech dud.

Investors – including Australia’s billionaire tech ‘rock star’ – Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes – will now exit at $7.80 a share.

Not that he needs the money, of course. He’s made a motza in bitcoin and Atlassian hasn’t done too badly either.
Chemical reaction

There is still no love lost between the brawling board members of The Hydroponics Company (THC).
The former chairman, Alan Beasley, gets to take his beef directly investors on Thursday after calling the meeting to dump the rest of the board, save for major shareholder Steven Xu.

CBD was puzzled to see that THC has not seen fit to release Beasley’s ASX announcement that Xu, and other major investors accounting for more than one-third of the share register, are backing his purge.

Investors were left, instead, to focus on the abrupt departure of THC’s chief commercial officer Debbie Ormsby.

And CBD could not help but notice that the stock has dropped 10 per cent this week.
It should make for an interesting shareholder meeting.

By: Colin Kruger

Source: The Age

Link: https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/take-the-money-or-risk-a-bullet-says-murray-goulburn-chair-john-spark-20180312-p4z41j.html

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