In one of those great Friday afternoon dumps, Macquarie Group dropped this 212 page substantial shareholder notice for the unpopular Brisconnections float at 6.57pm on Friday night. It shows the broader Macquarie empire has 15.5% of Brisconnections, well below the 26% figure that we reported on Friday.

The difference was explained late on Friday night in the following terms about Macquarie’s vehicle Belike Nominees which appeared in the original top 20 with 41.8 million units but in fact only owns 467,409 units:

Belike’s holding arose because valid settlement instructions were not received from a small number of institutions until after the cut off time on the institutional settlement date of 28 July 2008. This required Macquarie Group to settle for BCSCA securities on behalf of these institutional investors…

Over 97.5% of trades which missed the institutional settlement deadline have now settled and accordingly Belike’s holding has decreased.

So, the market was left trading in the mistaken belief there was a big underwriting overhang in BrisConnections. The only other BrisConnections substantial shareholder notice lodged so far has been this effort revealing the UBS-associated Broad Peak Master Fund has 5.5%. UBS wasn’t one of the four underwriters.

The Brisconnections spin ahead of Thursday’s disastrous debut included the following:

The BrisConnections IPO was fully subscribed, with the offer well supported by leading domestic and international institutional investors and approximately 12% of the offer being allocated to retail investors. The offer was fully underwritten by Macquarie Capital Advisers, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. Macquarie Capital Advisers acted as sole bookrunner.

Macquarie’s reverse ferret on Belike means that none of the four underwriters have popped up as substantial shareholders in their own right so who exactly is wearing the $250 million loss on the 409 million $1 partly paid units which this morning traded 0.5c higher at 39c?

The Queensland Investment Company still hasn’t directly confirmed the indicative top 20 shareholder list revealing that it bought 25 million units or 6.4%.

Poor disclosure has been a blight on the Australian market over the past year, starting with the failure of Rams Home Loans to properly explain its vulnerability to short term debt markets.

We’ve also seen it recently with the various property groups. Everyone was shocked by the GPT profit downgrade but, sure enough, Mirvac followed up with this effort on July 22 and today it was the turn of Lend Lease which released this downgrade and duly watched its shares plunge by 11.5% to $8.85 – a drop of 56% in less than 10 months.

Earth to Westfield and Stockland: it’s time to reveal your share of the write-downs too.

As for the state and federal governments, it appears the Labor Party doesn’t believe in continuous disclosure because there is more than $100 billion in outstanding government bonds trading at the moment blissfully unaware of the severe impact the property and credit crunches is having on government finances in Australia.

Which government will blink first and provide some new forecasts for investors in our bond markets as the Labor Governments collectively prepare to borrow more than $30 billion this financial year.

Peter Fray

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