Big thirst for Moa float

Backing of 42 Below founder Geoff Ross will spur interest in listing, says commentator.

Moa exports to the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Photo / Greg Bowker
Moa exports to the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Photo / Greg Bowker

Moa's proposed stock exchange listing is highly likely to go ahead this month and should be well received by investors, given the craft beer brewer's star backing by 42 Below founder Geoff Ross, market sources say.

The company is considering a share offer to the public, institutions and existing shareholders, including the Business Bakery - which is co-owned by Ross and has a 42 per cent stake - Pioneer Capital and Allan Scott Wines.

Capital raised through the proposed offer, which would look to raise $15 million, would fund an expansion of its brewery, as well as support an increase in working capital and marketing.

The offer is conditional on the NZX accepting Moa's shares for listing, according to the company, which has its head office in Auckland and brewery in Blenheim.

If the listing goes ahead it will give New Zealand a locally listed brewery for the first time since Auckland-based brewing giant Lion delisted from the NZX in 2009 following its acquisition by Kirin, a Japanese brewer.

It would be the third listing on the local stock exchange this year, after Malaysian internet services provider MyKris in January and mobile software developer VMob in August.

One industry source said Moa's proposed float was "definitely going ahead".

Unlike other ventures Ross has been involved in - such as NZX-listed scented candle marketer Ecoya and vodka maker 42 Below, which was also listed before its $138 million sale to Bacardi in 2006 - Moa had real substance, rather than being "pure marketing", the source said.

"This is actual content as well as marketing ... it's the kind of product that will have a lot of appeal [to investors]."

Earlier this year Moa general manager Gareth Hughes said the firm was seeing very strong growth, with domestic sales doubling year-on-year and export revenue surging by close to 200 per cent a year.

Its export markets include the United States, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia and Vietnam.

And the company is taking its first steps into China, having sent its first container-load to that country last month.

Market commentator Arthur Lim said Ross' track record with 42 Below and Ecoya, whose shares have gained around 30 per cent since its 2010 float, meant there would be strong interest in Moa's listing.

But he also warned that investors needed to be careful when following "smart operators" who often pushed the envelope too far at some point.

Another market source said investors in Moa, should it list, could be facing a long wait for a return on their investment.

"It's got a long way to go before it delivers on the dream."

Lim said Moa could become the target of a takeover if it grew to a sufficient size.

"A takeover would be part of the attraction for those that are looking [to invest in Moa]," he said.

Franceska Banga, chief executive of the Government-backed New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, which has an interest in Moa through its investment in Pioneer Capital, said that the craft beer maker's announcement yesterday was "very encouraging".


Moa

*Founded in 2003 by Josh Scott, son of Marlborough winemaker Alan Scott

*Brewing operations in Blenheim, with head office in Auckland

*Considering an NZX listing to raise $15 million

- NZ Herald

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