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Floats where investors lost more than $200 million


January 15, 2024

This list tracks floats since 1988 where investors collectively lost more than $200 million overall. We've got 36 so far but there will be many more. Send any suggestions through to stephen@maynereport.com.

ABC Learning, (7 years, 2001-2008): the childcare centre giant claimed to have net assets of $2.23 billion in February 2008 but subsequently collapsed. Its market cap peaked at more than $2 billion in 2007 after it initially raised $8 million in a 2001 float priced at $2. The real damage came from a succession of secondary equity raisings, the most notorious of which was to the Singapore Government which ended up dropping $400 million when it collapsed with founder Eddie Groves blaming short sellers.

APM Human Services (APM): listed in late 2021 after raising $982 million from public investors at $3.55 a share. There have been very few major floats since, partly reflecting the poor share price performance of APM with the stock languishing at around $1.26 in early 2024. Investors are down more than $500 million.

Ausenco, (10 years, 2006-2016): the Brisbane-based resource engineering firm once chaired by former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss had a market cap above $1 billion when its shares peaked at $15, but it disappeared in a whimper in 2016, when private equity fund Resource Capital paid just 40c a share or $154 million in an agreed bid. It was floated at $1 a share in 2006 when it initially raised $26 million and then did a number of capital raisings at higher prices along the way.

Babcock & Brown, 2009: collapsed in March 2009 but its last audited accounts were released in August 2008 and showed a $150 million half year profit and net assets of $2.63 billion. Market cap peaked at more than $5 billion.

Babcock & Brown Power, (10 years, 2006-2016):
floated at $2.50 a share in 2006 and briefly enjoyed a market capitalisation above $1 billion before the GFC struck and it grossly overpaid for some of the Alinta assets. Restructured and changed its name to Alinta Energy in 2009 and then restructured again in 2011 changing its name to Redbank Energy before finally delisting in 2016 with accumulate losses of around $1.6 billion.

BBI/Prime Infrastructure, (8 years, 2002-2010): initially floated as Prime Infrastructure Trust in 2002, Canadian firm Brookfield Asset Management took the old Babcock & Brown Infrastructure over in 2010 in what was billed as a $2.8 billion merger at the time. The Dalrymple Bay port assets were later refloated.

Boart Longyear, (18 years, 2007-2024): flipped and floated by Macquarie in 2007 when it took $2.35 billion from investors but still left a business loaded with $US642 million in debt. Was a disaster from the start after the GFC hit and ended up costing investors and lenders more than $5 billion before it was privatised by US private equity firm American Industrial Partners in a deal that valued the company at $543 million. See AFR report and takeover announcement.

Brisconnections: declared a $142.6 million loss in 2011-12 but still had retained earnings of $346 million and then collapsed in early 2013 after traffic forecasts fell massively short. The audit signing partner was Scott Guse from KPMG and the final claimed net assets were $945 million. Investors lost more than $1 billion and Transurban finished up with the assets. A total disaster put together by Macquarie.

Commander Communications: after new CEO Amanda Lacaze took an axe to the balance sheet in February 2008, the net assets were only at $20.68 million by the time it collapsed six months later with accumulated losses of $211 million. The final auditor was RD Dring from PwC. Initially raised $75 million at $1.20 a share in November 2000 in one of the last tech floats after the Tech Wreck first struck in April 2000.

Coronado Global (CRN), $2.61b: US company which is dual listed but Australia is secondary as notice of meeting shows. It does own the Curragh coal mine in Queensland's Bowen Basin which it bought from Wesfarmers in 2017. Raised $774m when it floated 20% at $4 a share in October 2018 but the stock was at $1.77 by December 2023 so a shocker for retail investors.

Dick Smith: Woolworths sold the business to private equity firm Anchorage for $20 million in 2012 after booking a $420 million write-down the previous year. The final sale price finished at $94 million after Woolworths pocketed some of the upside from Anchorage's $520 million float of Dick Smith 15 months later. The business collapsed on January 4, 2016 after just two years given that it floated in December 2013.

Estia Health (9 years, 2014-2023): originally floated in 2014 when it raised $725 million at $5.25 a share in a Quadrant driven private equity roll-up and flip. After woeful performance, it was then privatised by private equity firm Bain in 2023 in a deal which valued the equity at $3.20 a share or $828 million. Its market cap peaked at $1.4 billion in 2015-16 when the shares topped $7 but then crashed during COVID so this was a dud for public investors who endured the full 9 year public journey.

Goodman Fielder, (10 years, 2005-2015): a corporate raider player in the 1980s built by former New Zealand baker Pat Goodman (of Goodman Group fame) which was privatised by Graham Hart's Rank Group and then refloated at $1.85 a share in 2005, raising $1.72 billion for the equity. It was then taken over by Singapore's Wilmar International for $1.3 billion in 2015.

GQG Partners (GQG): a Florida head quartered fund manager which looks after more than $130b and is a strange beast to have listed on the ASX but investors stumped up $1.3 billion at $2.20 in the October 2021 float and the stock was at $1.52 in December 2023 so investors have dropped around $400 million or 30%.

HIH Insurance, (19 years, 1992-2001): was floated in 1992 and then placed in liquidation on March 15, 2001 when it was still claiming to have net assets of $953 million. Market cap peaked at more than $1.5 billion.

Hutchison Telecom: it's assets are now part of TPG but the shell remains listed and has wracked up $3.2 billion in losses with the original sin being over-paying for spectrum in a competitive auction that effectively also sent One-tel broke.

Judo Capital Holdings, $1.41b: the start-up bank focusing on SMEs floated in October 2021 when it raised $653m at $2.10 and like so many of the 2021 floats it has struggled with the stock at 87c in December 2023 after its cost of finance soared with official interest rates.

Latitude Group (LFS): raised $200m at $2.60 in April 2021 but at least there are only around 3000 retail shareholders and the controlling private equity investor KKR hasn't materially sold down and retains a 64% stake. Stock finished 2023 at around $1.15.

Liberty Financial Group (LFG), $1.16b: long-standing non-bank lender which is still controlled by founder Sherman Ma. Raised $320m at $6 in late 2020 IPO. Finished 2023 with stock at $4.05 and a market cap of $1.23 billion.

Link Group, (9 years, 2015-2024) Japanese giant Mitsubishi agreed to pay $2.16 per share or $2.1 billion in enterprise terms after years of poor performance, much of which was associated with its UK division. The share registry and investor services business was floated at $6.37 per share in October 2015. However, when you add back the performance of PEXA, which was spun off in 2021, the performance wasn't as bad.

Mesoblast (MSB): raised $21m at 50c in a December 2004 IPO, but the biopharma company has done many capital raisings without really delivering over the years. Finished 2023 with stock at 31c and a market cap of $310 million after burning more than $500 million.

MFS/Octaviar, 2009: plunged to a belated $242 million loss for the half to December 31, 2007 after writing down the MFS Pacific Finance division by $246 million but this still left it claiming to have $1.22 billion in net assets. The market cap peaked at more than $1.5 billion before it collapsed in 2009.

Myer (MYR): a disaster for public investors after it was floated by US private equity firm TPG at $4.10 a share in November 2009, raising $2.337 billion. The stock fell below 10c when COVID struck before recovering to around 60c in early January 2024. All up, public investors have lost more than $1.5 billion.

One-tel, (4 years, 1997-2001): collapsed in 2001 with audited net assets of $945 million despite never declaring a profit. Market cap peaked at more than $2 billion on irrational exuberance after the Murdoch and Packer families backed the company.

Pacific Brands, (12 years, 2004-2016): raised $1.3 billion at $2.50 a share in a 2004 IPO and was bought by US clothing company Hanes Brands when it offered $1.1 billion or $1.15 a share in 2016.

Pact Group (11 years, 2013-2024): floated by Pratt family billionaire Raphael Geminder in December 2013 at $3.80 a share raising $649 million from the public and and then market cap peaked at $1.6 billion in 2021 before it was crunched by a variety of issues. A privatisation proposal lobbed in September 2023 at 68c a share valuing the equity in the company at just $234 million. This was then lifted to 84c a share in December 2023 and appears likely to succeed.

PEXA (PXA): The 2021 PEXA float has been a disaster for the retail investors who paid $17.13 a share as Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners pocketed most of the $1.174 billion taken from public investors. With the stock down below $11 in January 2024, public investors have dropped almost $400 million or around 33% of their money. The AFR reported that Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners doubled its money in two and half years before dumping its 40% stake on public investors.

Pasminco, (12 years, 1988-2000): floated by North and CRA in the late 1980s and declared a $23 million net profit for 1999-00 but then collapsed shortly after, still claiming to have net assets of $1.5 billion. Market cap peaked at more than $2 billion.

PMP/Ovato, (31 years, 1991-2022): the magazine and printing business and was floated by News Corp in November 1991 at $3.40 a share and briefly had a market cap above $1 billion before eventually changing its name to Ovato and collapsing in July 2022. News Corp effectively pocketed $1.2 billion from the PMP float and subsequent sell-down as was explained in this Crikey piece.

Pointsbet: after a $266.9m loss in 2021-22, this brought total accumulated losses to $549 million. Initially floated in 2019 when it raised $75m at $2 but then did a series of capital raisings to fund its ill-fated push into the US market. u

RAMS (7 years, 2007-2014): floated in July 2007 at $2.50 a share, delivering founder John Kinghorn $650m for 74%, whist he retained 20% and remained chair. The stock subsequently crashed during the GFC when its wholesale funding lines for home loans dried up. Eventually taken over by Resimac for 50.1c per share in 2013-14. See formal addresses at scheme meeting.

Retail Food Group (RFG): originally floated in 2006 when it raised $36.5m at $1 and has since gone on to blow up about $500 million for investors with a series of capital raisings and acquisitions which failed to deliver.

Slater and Gordon, (16 years, 2007-2023): raised $35 million through an IPO priced at $1 a share in May 2007 and never officially collapsed as was rescued in a scheme of arrangement but the final full year result was a $546.8 million loss in 2016-17 and this followed a $1.017 billion loss in 2015-16. Did a massive debt for equity swap to stay listed before Allegro privatised it in 2023 at just 55c a share. The final results showed it carried $1.25 billion in accumulated losses.

Ten Network Holdings, (19 years,1998-2017): Canadian firm Canwest lead a consortium that bought it out of liquidation in 1992 and then after much fighting with Canberra over foreign ownership, it floated in 1998 with a $374 million offer priced at $2.15. It declared a final $231 million loss for the half year to March 30, 2017, and then administrators were appointed in June 2017 when it was still claiming to have net assets of $152 million. Market cap peaked at more than $2 billion.

Timbercorp: floated in 1996 and final full year result was a $44.6 million profit in the year to September 30, 2008. The auditor was Sandra Pelusi from Deloitte and it collapsed in April 2009, still claiming at the time to have net assets of $595 million.

Virgin Australia, (18 years, 2002-2020): initially floated by Richard Branson as Virgin Blue after the 2001 Ansett collapse and its final result for the half year to December 31, 2019, was a net loss of $104.8 million which left the business with negative net assets of $1.6 billion. The market cap peaked at more than $1 billion when it was making more than $200 million a year. Private equity firm Bain bought it out of administration in 2020-21 and is looking to refloat the business in 2024.