tip off

Crikey Says

Australia doesn’t produce too many world leaders, but ABC Learning was one of them. Pugnacious Brisbane Rich Lister Eddie Groves and his wife created the world’s biggest child care company, backed by the Singapore Government as the largest shareholder and complete with former Children’s Minister Larry Anthony on the board.

Alas, Australia’s most subsidised company might need a spot more assistance from Canberra. Its shares have crashed more than 60% this morning, despite an “urgent” ASX announcement released at 11.30am claiming that everything is fine and dandy.

It seems something was not quite right in the claimed $37 million half year “profit” released after the market had closed yesterday. It’s called debt – too much of it — and the familiar folly of paying too much for assets. ABC Learning now joins the likes of Centro, MFS, Allco and Macquarie Fortress on the critical list. Who’ll be next?

Having written out a cheque for $403 million last June to buy 12% of ABC Learning at $7.30, Lee Kwan Yew and his children who run Singapore Inc might need to get out the cane for young Eddie with the stock hitting a low of $1.15 this morning. Ouch.

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