Christopher Adams ' Opinion

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Stock Takes: Healthy float?

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Orion founder, Ian McCrae, photographed at his office in Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Kenny Rodger.
Orion founder, Ian McCrae, photographed at his office in Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Kenny Rodger.

Orion Health, which develops software used in hospitals, is gearing up to carry out a sharemarket listing during the latter part of this year, according to sources.

Market chatter suggests the company - whose cloud-based systems allow doctors to store and look up patient records online - has been talking to investment bankers and having some initial discussions with potential institutional investors.

It's understood the company might be seeking a valuation of up to $500 million.

Auckland-based Orion is well established, with annual revenue north of $100 million, more than 1000 staff and customers in over 30 countries.

It is likely to be popular in a market environment where technology companies are very much in vogue.

Orion chief executive Ian McCrae had not returned calls by the time Stock Takes went to print.


All eyes on Iraq

Financial markets will be keeping a close watch on the advance of a feared jihadist group through Iraq.

The unfolding crisis weighed on stockmarkets around the world last week after rebels from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) overran the city of Mosul and went on to take several other Iraqi cities.

Global indices, including the NZX50, have regained ground this week.

The New Zealand sharemarket tends to be relatively insulated from major geopolitical events. It was largely unaffected back in March when the crisis between the Ukraine and Russia was heating up.

Grant Williamson, of sharebrokers Hamilton Hindin Greene, says the strength of this country's economy was continuing to drive demand for New Zealand equities. But oil prices, which have risen following the Isis advance, could spook the market, he says.

"That is the one factor that could have a real influence on world economic growth."

BP's chief economist, Christof Ruhl, warned this week that the escalating violence in Iraq threatens to end the longest period in oil-price stability seen in almost half a century.

Of course, the human cost of the crisis far outweighs any impact on markets. The disturbing reports of mass executions by Isis forces and Iraqis fleeing their homes put falling share prices, or pain at the petrol pump, into perspective.

Hirepool headache

Investment bankers are working hard to sell the forthcoming Hirepool listing to New Zealand fund managers after promoting the float on a roadshow through Australia and Hong Kong.

Overseas institutions are understood to have shown strong interest in the offer and retail interest in this country is expected to be solid. Asian investors may well view Hirepool, New Zealand's largest equipment business, as a way to get some exposure to this country's positive economic outlook.

However, there's a fair amount of grumpiness about the pricing of the deal, and doubts about the company's profit forecasts, among Kiwi fund managers.

Increasing the scepticism is the fact that Hirepool is majority-owned by a private equity firm - Australia's Next Capital.

Rightly or wrongly, private equity companies have a reputation for greedy IPO pricing. On the other hand, fund managers are hardly known for talking up the price of deals.

Hirepool is looking to raise between $175 million and $262 million, based on an indicative price range of $1.10 and $1.50 a share.

The final pricing of the shares will be determined early next week through an auction-style bookbuild process with institutions and retail brokers.

One market source says it wouldn't be a great surprise if the deal had to be re-priced, given the dark feelings some local fund managers have about it, and the best-case scenario for Hirepool would be a final price at the lower end of the indicative range.

Another source used the words "barge pole" when discussing the offer.

Hirepool, which acquired rival HireQuip last year, expects to list on the NZX and ASX on July 11. Deutsche Craigs, UBS and Macquarie Securities are managing the offer.

Got the cash

Technology developer ikeGPS has raised the full $25 million in new capital it wanted following a bookbuild with institutions and retail brokers. The issue price for the listing has been set at $1.10, valuing the firm at around $55 million.

A prospectus will be registered for the retail offer, which will open July 1 and close on July 21. The listing is expected to go ahead shortly after the close of the retail offer.

IkeGPS has developed a $10,000-plus device that is used by a range of businesses - including electricity utilities - to photograph, measure and locate with GPS technology objects such as telegraph poles.

The company has launched a new product, called Spike, which attaches to a smartphone and offers similar technology to the main device but for about $500.

IkeGPS will use the new capital to fund a sales and marketing push in the United States.

Meanwhile, an announcement on the upcoming listing of fruit and vegetable marketer Scales Corporation is expected today.

Global push

NZAX-listed BurgerFuel operates in Iraq and its share price has dropped back this week.

The gourmet burger firm opened a store in Sulaymaniyah, in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, in January 2012 and its Iraqi master franchise holder was scoping out possible sites for outlets in the capital, Baghdad, earlier this year.

BurgerFuel stock rose 15 per cent over two days last week to hit $2.90 last Friday after the company reported a solid full-year result - including a 20 per cent increase in group operating revenue to $14.4 million - earlier in the week.

But the fast food operator's shares lost ground this week and closed at $2.70 last night.

A bit of profit taking by investors may well have been the cause of the fall and it's important to keep the impact of the conflict in Iraq on BurgerFuel in perspective.

Isis has not invaded the Kurdish region and the company's main Middle Eastern markets are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where 17 stores operate.

The Isis advance could put the brakes on further expansion in Iraq as religious fundamentalists so extreme they were disowned by al-Qaeda are unlikely to welcome with open arms a burger chain known for its edgy marketing, loud pop music and tattooed staff.

But BurgerFuel's focus has moved away from the Middle East towards the United States and other major markets such as Britain, India and China.

The company and the founders of the Subway sandwich chain this year finalised a partnership which BurgerFuel aims to use as it pushes to open 1000 new stores in new markets, including the US, over the next eight years.

News of the partnership deal in January saw the firm's share price double to $3.10.

BurgerFuel, which opened its first Egyptian outlet in May, said last week that its first restaurant in Kuwait was expected to open this month or next.

- NZ Herald

Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

A business journalist for more than four years, he also writes the weekly Stock Takes column.Christopher’s main focus is the local sharemarket and issues facing Kiwi investors. He covered manufacturing and retail in his previous Herald role and maintains a special interest in New Zealand’s growing trade relationship with China.

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