Now, or later, or never. The Financial Review reported today that “managers of the $755 million [Ovtaviar] Premium Income Fund will urge unit holders not to place the stricken entity into liquidation.” Instead, PIF boss, Jenny Hutson (who is a close associate of Octaviar chief, Chris Scott), has begged unit-holders to give PIF management another five years. Hutson stated that if court action against Octaviar (which was the former responsible entity of PIF) was successful, and the fund recovered the $147.5 million claimed, the value of units in PIF would top “65 cents in the dollar”. However, Hutson noted that “my vision over three to five years is to work with the investors to get them a full return of capital. So for every $1 invested, they will get at least $1 back.”
Of course, waiting five years isn’t ideal for investors who are familiar with the cornerstone concept of “opportunity cost”. If unit-holders have the choice between 65 cents now (assuming the Octaviar claim is successful) and a possible $1.00 in five years, it would be difficult to opt for the $1.00. A mythical 65 cents invested now in a term deposit paying a mere 7% would be worth 91 cents after five years. And one would suspect investors would opt for a near guaranteed 91 cents rather than leaving the far riskier option of having their money tied up in PIF for another five years. Hutson will be hoping unit-holders don’t agree — presumably management fees wouldn’t be particularity lucrative after the Fund is liquidated. — Adam Schwab
Not fair nor reasonble, nor Just. Takeover target, Just Group, shocked shareholders yesterday by reporting a profit downgrade from 33.4 cents per share to 29.8 cents per share. The announcement sent Just shares tumbling more than 12% to $2.78. The downgrade couldn’t have come at a better time for wily rag trader, Solly Lew, whose listed cashbox Premier Investment is currently trying to acquire Just. The downgrade also casts further doubt over the use of so-called “independent experts” as part of the takeover process.
As part of its takeover defense, Just appointed Lonergan Edwards to conduct an “independent” valuation of the group. Conveniently for Just, Lonergan (which has allegedly been dubbed “Wrongagain Edwards” by some scribes), came up with a valuation of between $4.78 and $5.28 for the company — the mid-range of which is 45% higher than the current capitalization of Just. Lonergan claimed that Premier’s offer, the mid-point of which was $4.10 per share, was “neither fair nor reasonable”. In fairness to Wrongagain, it is tough to make a crust when you go against the wishes of your paymaster, probably better for business to tinker with a few earnings multiples and match the recommendation.
This isn’t the first time Lonergan has recommended an offer that was “neither fair nor reasonable” — in 2006, it claimed that Commander’s offer for Volante was “neither fair nor reasonable”. Commander eventually acquired Volante for $1.15 and two years later, the acquisition has almost killed the company, with Commander’s share price dropping from $2.00 to 9 cents. Oh, and Lonergan’s expert opinion also noted in February 2005 that Foster’s offer of $4.14 per share for Southcorp was “neither fair nor reasonable”. Bet Trevor O’Hoy wishes Southcorp shareholders had followed Wrongagain’s advice. — Adam Schwab
Take with one hand, take with the other. Fairfax papers today reported that “Tabcorp Holdings has considered spinning off its casino business to boost its valuation and attract takeover bids, but shelved the plans amid fears the turmoil on the sharemarkets and the high cost of debt would hinder a competitive auction.” The proposal was suggested by none other than investment bank, UBS. UBS has long been Tabcorp’s house banker, advising Tabcorp on its acquisitions of Tab, UniTab and Jupiter’s as well as the potential acquisition of Burswood. In 2003, Tabcorp paid its advisors (which included UBS as key financial advisor) fees of $46 million for its scheme of arrangement with Jupiters. Five years later, UBS is advising Tabcorp to spin-off its casino business, presumably, for another handsome fee. — Adam Schwab
Rising oil prices lead to rise in self-employment. A Kentucky woman is facing prostitution charges for allegedly trading sex for gasoline. Angela Eversole, 34, was nabbed last weekend during a police stakeout at a Days Inn, where she allegedly trysted with customer Kenneth Nowak. According to court records, Nowak admitted paying for Eversole’s services, in part, with a $100 Speedway gas card. Eversole was hit with a prostitution rap and also charged with doing business without an occupational license. Nowak was charged with promoting prostitution. Eversole and Nowak are pictured below in mug shots snapped following their June 27 arrests. A local prosecutor noted that it was sad to see someone selling their body for gas, in this case about 25 gallons worth. — The Smoking Gun
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