Archive for June, 2019

  • Aconex revisits float plans with smaller, discounted offering

    Date: 2019.06.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Aconex is back on track to float after its revised initial public offering secured $140 million from cornerstone investors.
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    A few weeks ago, the construction industry software provider took the unusual step of abandoning a plan to raise $230 million at $2.20 a share, following advice the stock was unlikely to receive enough support to perform well at listing.

    But joint lead managers Macquarie and UBS have now completed the institutional book-build for the re-engineered Aconex IPO, raising $140 million at $1.90 per share.

    “We had covered the book for a $230 million raising, but then the market came off, risk aversion was on the rise, investors were displaying a bit of IPO fatigue, and we wanted to make sure it traded well,” Macquarie head of equity capital markets origination Mark Warburton said.

    “The pipeline of technology companies coming to market is stronger than it has ever been. We are developing a really good local tech sector, but for that to work out this deal has to trade up.”

    Macquarie and UBS returned to Australian and Asian institutional investors that had supported the original Aconex IPO deal to cornerstone the new smaller, more competitively priced raise.

    The new deal also doubles the amount of existing shareholder stock held under voluntary escrow arrangements to more than 85 per cent. A large portion of these escrow conditions will expire after the 2015 results are announced.

    An updated prospectus is expected to be lodged with the regulators as early as Monday, after the new deal was struck on Friday and inked at the weekend.

    Exactly how much additional stock is to be made available in a small retail offer was still being determined. The listing is slated for December 9, 2014.

    Australia’s top two investment banks may have managed to convince Aconex founders Leigh Jasper and Rob Phillpot to give up $90 million in value so the float could be re-priced.

    “We are currently working with a number of other large technology companies that plan to list in early 2015,” Mr Warburton said.

    One company Macquarie is advising is Singaporean online real estate portal PropertyGuru, which Mr Warburton confirmed is targeting a listing in 2015.

    “Expect to see an increase in the number of south-east Asian technology companies listing in Australia,” he said.

    The listing of OzForex in 2013 kicked off the strongest wave of local large tech listings since the dot南京夜网 crash in 2001, including 3P Learning, Urbanise and now Aconex.

    “Over the past decade, investors have seen online businesses like Seek南京夜网, Carsales南京夜网 and Realestate南京夜网 grow in to multibillion-dollar companies that are global market leaders,” Mr Warburton said. “So the willingness of investors to put in the work to understand the more complicated models used to value high-growth internet businesses is growing.”

    Aconex will be the biggest float of an unprofitable technology company in the history of the local market. At listing the company will have a market capitalisation of $312 million.

    “The Aconex deal represents the next stage in the development of Australia’s equity capital markets. It proves that the local bourse can compete with the Nasdaq in attracting globally significant companies,” Mr Warburton said.

    “It also shows that while the pricing has to be competitive, Australian investors are becoming more willing to accept valuations based on revenue multiples, rather than the traditional emphasis on profit.”

    Founded in 2000, Aconex is today considered the market leader in collaboration software for the global construction industry. The company has offices in 22 countries, serving customers in more than 70 countries. Profits from the Australian operations have been plunged into offshore expansion, with the group forecast to record a net profit in the year ahead.

    Major international projects using the platform include the expansion of the Panama Canal, Hong Kong International Airport, Dubai Metro, Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands and Battersea Power Station.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Was this fertiliser group taken to the cleaners by insolvency group and ANZ?

    Date: 2019.06.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    “Find out what yanks their chain. Prepare to get PO in court as soon as possible. Wants dirt on PO” – ANZ chief risk officer Chris Page giving directions to liquidators PPB.
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    “PO” is Pankaj Oswal, the flamboyant Indian petrochemical billionaire who came to Perth and set up the Burrup fertiliser plant. Burrup was trading profitably but ANZ put him into receivership and now Perth Federal Court judge Antony Siopis has ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the receivers PPB and how they managed to charge $34 million over 13 months, including $13 million on lawyers Freehills Herbert Smith.

    Besides the instructions from ANZ executive Chris Page to get “dirt” on Oswal – contained in a file note of a conference call – a slew of embarrassing revelations has emerged in the Federal Court proceedings in Perth.

    Here’s a taste: the Oswals claim PPB spent 48 hours filling out a form (a “second form 524”) and charged $19,240. Further high charges were incurred for the filling out of another form (a “third form 524”), a task which apparently endured for 19 hours though, according to the allegations, the form was still not filled out correctly.

    Before we delve further into the detail of these meaty charges, some context. Belligerent billing by liquidators and lawyers is hardly news but there is broader significance in the Burrup case as it is one of two epic legal battles afoot where judges have actually stepped in and investigated the behaviour of the insolvency profession – even to the point of lifting the veil of legal secrecy.

    The other is the Homeric year-long legal battle between John Viscariello and the Adelaide establishment, where judgment is slated to be handed down next week in the Supreme Court of South Australia.

    In an interim judgment in August 2012, Chief Justice Chris Kourakis dealt the liquidator of Viscariello’s home wares business (Peter Macks, then also from PPB) and his solicitors, Minter Ellison, a brutal blow.

    “I have formed the view that the proceedings were prosecuted recklessly, indifferent to the possibility that they might be an abuse,” he found.

    The liquidator had chewed up $500,000 chasing a debt of just $28,000. That $28,000 debt belonged to Viscariello’s girlfriend at the time, Tanya Hamilton-Smith. The case got personal. PPB and Minters tried to get at Viscariello’s assets by bankrupting Hamilton-Smith and a plethora of lawsuits ensued.

    In the Viscariello case, the dogged plaintiff, John Viscariello, became a lawyer and funded the cases himself. In Burrup, the lawsuits have been funded by Oswal, a billionaire who feels slighted by the system – though his own conduct as chairman of Burrup had certainly not been beyond reproach.

    Responding for this story, ANZ said Oswal’s wife has previously admitted in court documents her husband forged security documents and they had “refused to return to Australia to face these serious allegations”.

    “Mr Page’s colloquial language shouldn’t distract from the serious fraud and tax allegations Mr Oswal is currently facing,” it said. “Given the gravity of the situation, it was incumbent on ANZ to ensure these allegations were fully investigated.”

    A statement from PPB Advisory said the firm “looks forward to addressing the matters you and Mr Oswal have raised in the appropriate forum: the Federal Court. The receivership of the Burrup Fertilisers assets involved very great complexity. PPB is proud of the outcome of the receivership and of the integrity of its people carrying out their roles”.

    The Oswals claim the receivership of the Burrup fertiliser plant ought to have been a relatively straightforward affair. The plant was not put up for sale. Aside from departure of Pankaj Oswal, there were no major changes in its 100-strong workforce. It was sitting on millions of dollars of cash and made a profit of $10 million a month. This was no distressed asset. Yet, according to Oswal, what resulted was a no holds barred fee frenzy in respect of which he was obliged to pick up the tab.  He has petitioned the court for a refund. He also wants each of the receivers deregistered, fined and banned from practice.

    Had not these actions – both Burrup and Viscariello – been well funded and pursued with high indignation, however, the behaviour of the liquidators and the lawyers might never have come to light.

    The central question for Siopis in the Burrup matter is whether there was a “proper purpose” for the charges incurred by PPB and its assorted advisers.

    Of the $34 million in receivership costs over just 13½ months, PPB raked in $14 million in fees, including $2.2 million in the last six weeks. PPB claims the receivership was a complex one with litigation to resolve. Legal fees in the last six weeks of the receivership were $1.4 million, mostly accruing to Freehills.

    Here is a sample of some of the claims about the receivership.

    * PPB flew wives and personal assistants interstate for New Year Eve celebrations;

    * The unlawful charging of pre-appointment fees;

    * Discrepancies between time sheets and invoices;

    * Charging for work that was allegedly never performed;

    * PPB staff recording exactly 7.5 hours a day;

    * Charging for dry-cleaning, groceries, snacks, stationery and even a traffic infringement notice;

    * Using Burrup’s corporate box at the Fremantle Football Club;

    * Charging for the solicitation of post-receivership work;

    * Resourcing the receivership with its staff from Melbourne whose travels cost Oswal a staggering $2.8 million.

    THE CONTENTIOUS INVOICES

    PPB invoiced partner Brendan Rew for $765 to “trip to Dalkeith and Peppermint Grove personal properties to conduct surveillance” on Pankaj Oswal. Another employee, Royden Saldana, was charged out for $620 for “travel to and from the directors’ properties”.

    Among the large unitemised invoices to ANZ was $149,000 spent in last three days of receivership. Partner Jeff Herbert spent 14 hours doing “privileged”. Partner Simon Theobald also spent five hours doing “privileged”; examples of what the Oswals’ claim describes as “alleged activity”.

    Among the $2.8 million in travel costs was a hotel bill, $948 per night, for a Joshua Stacks, an “Analyst/Intermediate 1”.

    The receivership was also billed for “government liaison” – some $13,200 by Robert Fisher who urged that Burrup renew its sponsorship and box at the Fremantle Football Club from September 2011 to January 2012.

    “One of the reasons Mr Fisher identified for such renewal was that PPB staff had used the table at the President’s Suite along with the ‘prime position seating’ to the games and obtained access to government officials and business leaders,” claims the Oswal pleadings.

    Then there were charges of $172,000 for PR firm Hintons, including $58,654.75 for “media monitoring services and press releases” in the last six weeks of the receivership.

    Also included in the travel expense was a traffic infringement notice. Some $1.4 million went on “professional fees” for professionals travelling and conducting while undertaking “travel-related activities”. Of this, $573,000 was incurred for activities carried out while on an aircraft.

    Although PPB chose to send a lot of staff from Melbourne to Perth to conduct the receivership, there were still bills for flights to Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and London.

    Partners, of which there were many, flew business class. Also, their personal assistants were flown to Perth and put up in hotels. Emily Bruce was flown from Melbourne to Perth to for four nights over New Year’s Eve 2010 and was accommodated at the Duxton Hotel, and again in January. No activities related to Burrup have been cited, according to the claim.

    Another PA, Emily Smith, also flew to Perth around New Year’s in 2010 for four nights.

    Siopis has reserved his judgment in an application by receivers and PPB partners Ian Carson, David McEvoy and Theobald to keep out of court many of the embarrassing allegations of misconduct made against them.

    In a hearing on October 15, Oswal’s barrister, Martin Goldblatt, used the term “tantamount to fraud” a number of times. He said the  PPB documents obtained under discovery had “lifted the veil of secrecy under which this receivership was conducted” and “reveal a systematic failure of administration and integrity right from the outset and until the very end”.

    PPB’s legal team asked the court to limit the scope of the inquiry.

    The Oswals’ legal team has accused ANZ of “aiding, abetting of being knowingly concerned … in breaches of duty … by the receivers and others” and “conducting the receivership for improper purpose”.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Sri Lanka raises the tax stakes on James Packer’s casino proposal

    Date: 2019.06.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    James Packer’s Crown group faces a new set of hurdles in his quest to open a $US400 ($457) million casino in Sri Lanka after threats by the country’s president that new gaming levies will be imposed should he win the upcoming January elections.
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    Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is set to seek an unprecedented third six-year term, announced new funding measures in his latest budget.

    This includes a $100 entrance fee and a 10 per cent gaming levy on three proposed casino resorts, including one venture that includes Mr Packer’s Crown Ltd.

    Crown confirmed that it is still in discussions with the Sri Lankan government and did not comment further.

    Mr Packer has been actively pursuing clearance for his proposed mixed-use resort development in Sri Lanka.

    In May this year the government gave approval for all three projects to go ahead, without the casinos, and also granted 10-year tax breaks – despite strong opposition.

    The opposition UNP and some of Mr Rajapaksa’s own coalition partners who broke ranks voted against the tax concessions but the government has a comfortable majority in the 225-member legislature and the legislation was passed.

    There has been speculation that the three projects would be able to operate as casinos by transplanting the licences already held by local partners.

    Crown is undertaking the push into Sri Lanka with a local partner, Rank Holdings, which holds two casino licences.

    Mr Packer has previously remarked that Sri Lanka’s ambitious tourism targets were “only achievable with the right tourism infrastructure and attractions” and cited the success of Singapore in turning around its performance as a tourism destination with the development of two casino resorts.

    At the Crown annual general meeting in mid October, Mr Packer said: “As I have spoken about in the past, Crown is also looking at the rise of the middle class in other parts of Asia, including India. We are negotiating with potential joint venture partners and the Sri Lankan government to target this market by building the country’s first luxury integrated resort in Colombo and that work continues”.

    Crown’s projected opening in Sri Lanka is 2018, and it is being billed as the country’s first integrated resort with 450 luxury rooms, a signature restaurant and bars, a spa and pool and a “thematic lake water feature”.

    Mr Packer’s push into South East Asia follows the success of his Macau venture, Melco Crown Entertainment.

    Crown is also looking at expanding into Philippines and Japan, as well as a new property in Las Vegas.

    But Crown is also growing in Australia with a “six star” hotel and casino at Barangaroo in Sydney, which got the green light for a restricted gaming licence for Crown Sydney, from the NSW government in May.

    Lend Lease, which is developing the $6 billion Barangaroo site, has said it is in “ongoing discussions” with all the “stakeholders” in the project.

    “Nothing has changed [with Crown’s plan] … it is a very significant piece of land and we must consider a whole lot of options with a range of land owners,” Lend Lease’s chief executive Steve McCann said after his group’s annual general meeting last Friday.

    Crown has also entered into an agreement with a subsidiary of the international Chinese diversified property group, Greenland Holdings Group, to jointly prepare a detailed proposal to bid for the development of the Queen’s Wharf precinct in Brisbane.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Eddie Obeid: the weapon of choice in Auburn preselection stoush

    Date: 2019.06.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Eddie Obeid wrote a letter of support for Barbara Perry when she was campaigning in the 2001 byelection which saw her elected to the NSW Parliament. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer MP Barbara Perry said Eddie Obeid’s endorsement letter was a campaign initiative of ALP head office.
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    Corrupt former Labor minister Eddie Obeid has become the latest weapon in the increasingly bitter ALP preselection battle for the state seat of Auburn, with the emergence of a glowing letter of endorsement he wrote for incumbent MP Barbara Perry.

    Mr Obeid penned his letter of support for Ms Perry when she was campaigning in the 2001 byelection which saw her elected to the NSW Parliament.

    In the letter, Mr Obeid noted Ms Perry is the daughter of Lebanese migrants to Australia who speaks fluent Arabic and whose maiden name is Abood.

    “Barbara is one of us,” Mr Obeid wrote. “She understands migrants and the issues which confront them, especially problems facing our youth at school and work. I am very proud to support Barbara Perry.”

    Mr Obeid has since been expelled from the Labor Party after having several official corruption findings against him and may face criminal charges.

    The potentially embarrassing endorsement has emerged just days after Ms Perry charged her opponent in the preselection, former Auburn mayor Hicham Zraika, with branch stacking offences under Labor party rules.

    Ms Perry is demanding the party investigate allegations that Cr Zraika paid for memberships and has been recruiting members who do not live at their claimed addresses to influence the ballot.

    If the allegations are found to be true, Ms Perry wants him suspended or expelled from the party. Cr Zraika denies the allegations.

    Ms Perry said the endorsement letter was a campaign initiative of ALP head office which it paid for and distributed.

    She said an endorsement letter from then Premier Bob Carr was also circulated to the community before the byelection.

    “Attempts to try and link me personally to a former minister found by the ICAC to have acted corruptly is nothing more than a sideshow distraction from the current spotlight on the serious local branch membership irregularities that I have been raising with head office for more than three-and-a-half years,” she said.

    Cr Zraika has received endorsements from federal shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and Werriwa MP Laurie Ferguson.

    Mr Bowen’s October 20 letter stated he had “no hesitation in attesting that Cr Zraika is a fit and proper person to represent our party in the state election” and found him to be “honest, trustworthy and appropriate at all times”.

    Mr Ferguson, a senior figure in the rival left faction, said he was confident Cr Zraika “would be a fitting representative, attuned to the area’s constituents”.

    Ms Perry said she had seven endorsement letters from community members but did not approach MPs.

    On Friday, Ms Perry’s charge was referred to the party’s internal tribunal for investigation. The preselection is due on December 6.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Murder trial with a twist: defamation jury to decide if Gordon Wood killed Caroline Byrne

    Date: 2019.06.16 | Category: 南京夜网 | Response: 0

    Gordon Wood was acquitted of murdering his girlfriend almost three years ago. Photo: Adam HollingworthAlmost three years after Gordon Wood was acquitted of murdering his girlfriend Caroline Byrne, a court has been asked to decide the question again – this time, with a lower standard of proof.
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    The murder trial with a twist is the result of defamation proceedings brought by Mr Wood against newspaper publisher Nationwide News for alleging he did kill the Sydney model, whose body was found at the base of cliffs at The Gap in the early hours of June 8, 1995.

    A former chauffeur to stockbroker Rene Rivkin, Mr Wood was acquitted of the murder of Ms Byrne by the Court of Criminal Appeal in February 2012 after spending three-and-a-half years behind bars.

    The acquittal, which followed a guilty verdict in 2008, appeared to mark the final chapter in one of the state’s longest-running cases.

    But Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum said on Friday that the defamation case against Nationwide News would, in effect, involve the publisher “re-running the Crown case in the criminal trial” with a lower standard of proof that applies in civil cases.

    Nationwide News is defending the case on the basis that the allegation of murder is true. A 12-person jury will have to decide whether it has proven that Mr Wood killed Ms Byrne “on the balance of probabilities”, that is, it is more likely than not that he did.

    In a criminal trial where the liberty of an accused hangs in the balance, the Crown is held to a much higher standard and must prove guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”.

    Mr Wood brought defamation proceedings against four media outlets last year, including radio stations 2GB and 2UE. The court heard on Friday the Nationwide News case is now the “last one standing” after a string of settlements.

    Mr Wood’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, told Justice McCallum on Friday that he had settled his case against Channel Seven Sydney, which was to be tried at the same time as the case against Nationwide News.

    In September this year, Justice McCallum ordered that the case should be decided by a jury of 12 rather than four.

    “The determination of an allegation of murder is one which weighs heavily on those who have to determine it,” Justice McCallum said in a preliminary judgment.

    “In my view, a group of twelve jurors rather than four is better equipped to bear that responsibility.”

    She added the original trial received “a great deal of media attention” and a larger jury might help “dilute the influence of any single juror whose passions or antipathies may be aroused for or against one of the parties”.

    The court heard on Friday that Mr Wood had been resisting providing written answers under oath to questions, known as interrogatories, served on him by Nationwide News as part of its preparation for the case.

    At least one of the questions related to his movements on the night of Ms Byrne’s death and his answers would form part of the evidence in the trial.

    Ms Chrysanthou said it would be “oppressive” and “vexatious” to require Mr Wood to recall events from 20 years ago and he had already provided statements to police and journalists that could be used in the case. He did not give evidence in his murder trial.

    Justice McCallum ruled on Friday that Mr Wood should answer the questions.

    In 2012, the Court of Criminal Appeal found there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Wood had murdered Ms Byrne, then 24. The court said it was unclear how Ms Byrne fell to her death or whether Mr Wood had any involvement.

    The defamation trial is expected to run for up to eight weeks. A date will be set next year.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.