The wealthy Huljich family has sold a quarter of its cornerstone stake in NZX-listed software company Pushpay in a block-trade worth just under $124 million.
The sale lowers the family's stake from 20.9 per cent to 15.7 per cent.
Pushpay's stock has nearly tripled in value since mid-March as US churches move to online services, pushing its market cap to more than $2.4 billion. With no plate to pass, Pushpay's app is being used by an increasing number for online giving.
Various Huljich family interests sold 14.4 million shares for $123.8m, or $8.60 per share, yesterday in a block trade underwritten by JP Morgan in Australia and UBS in NZ. That was a 6.9 per cent discount from the closing market price of $9.24.
Pushpay shares fell nearly 6 per cent to $8.69 when the market opened this morning, closing down further at $8.46.
The faith-sector donations software developer has been a runaway success during the pandemic because US church buildings were closed and parishioners turned to online platforms to attend services and to make donations.
The Huljich family, who have been invested in Pushpay since before 2014, when it listed at $1 per share, will remain the largest shareholder and says it will not trade its remaining stake after until the company reports its half-year result.
Peter Huljich will stay on the Pushpay board, with his father Christopher Huljich continuing to act as his alternate.
"The outlook for Pushpay remains positive," Peter Huljich said. "The Huljich family confirms that it does not have any current intention to sell further shares in Pushpay."
Pushpay was founded by Eliot Crowther and Chris Heaslip in 2011.
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Earlier, Heaslip told the Herald that the company made good progress getting clients on board, and had a private equity value of $8m by 2013.
But the startup (which wouldn't hit profit until 2019) also had a cash crunch, having spent the $1m it raised in seed capital.
"I had to sit in front of all our staff and say, 'I'm sorry, I've let you all down'," Heaslip recalled.
"It was the single hardest day of my life. I told them they were all welcome to leave if they wanted, but we wouldn't be making payroll that month."
But the staff stayed on and the firm's outlook began to improve only days later when high-profile Auckland investor Peter Huljich arrived on the scene. His family, which made its original fortune via the sale of its small goods business to French multinational Danone, took an anchor investment.
The family's key role in the company's survival was reiterated at its annual meeting last year as the NZ Shareholder's Association opposed Peter Huljich's reappointment to the board, citing his failure to disclose his 2011 guilty plea to misleading investors about his Kiwisaver scheme.
The Huljich sell-down is the third major sale by Pushpay insiders, following Crowther and Heaslip.
Crowther quit the company and sold his 9.03 per cent stake for $100m amid a marriage split.
Heaslip resigned as CEO last year and sold 41 per cent of his shares in a $45.3m block trade. He told the Herald different skills were needed as Pushpay evolved from its startup phase.
Chairman Bruce Gordon took over from Heaslip as CEO. But Gordon in turn used the company's recent AGM to say he would be stepping aside as the company sought a long-term replacement for Heaslip.
On one level, Auckland-based Pushpay's business continues to change. It bought Church Community Builder, a Colorado-based maker of church management software, for $132m last December, to flesh out its product range.
And Gordon said at last month's annual meeting - where guidance was raised - that more acquisitions could be on the way.
Gordon said Pushpay's success had been the result of its "laser-like focus" on the North American faith sector, which accounts for around 98 per cent of its revenue.
It planned to continue that focus - albeit signing more large churches. Its goal was to gain 50 per cent market share in the US, which would yield around US$1b ($1.5b) a year in revenue.