Kiwi investment bank Jarden appears keen to get a strong foothold in the Australian market with a potential acquisition in the works.
Jarden is said to be undertaking due diligence on Australian financial advice firm EL&C Baillieu which is on the market.
EL&C Baillieu has a long history in Australia and would give Jarden instant access to an all-important advice arm.
In Australia a lot more investments are sold via financial advisers than direct to the public than in New Zealand where the market is more direct retail focused.
If a sale goes ahead it would build on Jarden's recent hiring spree. In May Jarden raided UBS and Goldman Sachs bringing on board four executives.
Robbie Vanderzeil, formerly investment banking chair at UBS, will run the Australian business.
Joining Vanderzeil in Jarden's Australian business are: Sarah Rennie, formerly head of equity capital markets at Goldman Sachs and currently a member of the Australian Takeovers Panel; Dane FitzGibbon, formerly co-head of capital markets for UBS Australia; and John Spencer, previously head of equity capital syndication at UBS.
That was followed up by another five appointments in June with Aidan Allen, formerly co-head of investment banking for UBS, Millie Horton from Goldman Sachs, SooJin Yoon UBS' former internal legal counsel, Chris Tolj from Credit Suisse and Kieren Chidgey also formerly an executive director in UBS' equities research team.
Painstaking progress on Abano takeover
It's now over a month since Abano Healthcare last flagged continuing takeover interest in the business, prompting some market speculation about what's going on behind the scenes.
Last official word from Abano came on July 9 when it said the board was still evaluating proposals from third parties. Those included previously referred to Australian private equity firm BGH Capital, and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, with two indicative proposals submitted prior to June 17 with headline prices of $3 a share and $3.25 a share.
At least one source believes a formal proposal could be close given the time period. However, another source questions whether the deal may have fallen through given the beefed-up Covid-19 restrictions in Victoria, Australia.
BGH's adviser in New Zealand is investment bank Jarden, which didn't offer comment when contacted by Continuous Disclosure.
In a statement on June 29 Abano said any proposal endorsed by the board would need to "satisfactorily address the company's underlying value and to provide sufficient certainty of execution and price to Abano shareholders.
"The company will continue to keep shareholders informed and any person considering trading in Abano shares may wish to seek financial advice."
Abano shares recently traded at $2.67, haven fallen 30 per cent over the past 52 weeks.
BGH Capital and Ontario Teachers had previously offered $5.70 per share, valuing Abano at $149.8 million, through a scheme of arrangement, but the offer was called off in March due to Covid.
That was still well short of a $9.84 a share partial offer from Peter Hutson and James Reeves that was rejected in 2017.
Jimmy Lai/Hong Kong: buy orders on democracy
That did not take long. Hong Kong police have arrested media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai. Beijing imposed a tough new security law on the territory a little over a month ago. The detention does not spell the end of Next Digital, Lai's business. Its content will stay in demand, like its shares, which protesters are buying as a political statement.
Business and politics are interlinked in commercial news. Here, consumers finance editorial with which they agree by paying subscriptions or viewing adverts. Hong Kong activists have gone a step further, expressing solidarity with buy orders on Next Digital. The Hong Kong-listed shares rose 183 per cent on Monday.
Lai has grown his newspaper Apple Daily into one of most popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The publication, alongside stable mate Next Magazine, has built a dedicated readership by advocating democracy. Lai previously created one of Asia's largest casual fashion groups, Giordano.
The surge in the shares of Next Digital, which have fallen over recent years, is not a reflection of investor optimism that profits will rise. Next Digital has lost hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars annually at the operating line for the past four fiscal years. Rather, the purchases are a reverse boycott.
What matters to the price is supply, demand and political events, not fundamentals. Next Digital is a benchmark for resistance to Chinese authoritarianism in other ways. Views on its digital platform double when there are protests, to an average of 80m a day. Next Digital has survived constant mainland pressure, including the withdrawal of its underwriter just before its listing and advertising boycotts by Chinese companies. The shares trade at a just over 0.3 times book value.
Investors with ethical policies may have awkward questions for HSBC and Standard Chartered. These UK-listed banks have expressed support for the law under which Lai was detained. The arrest of a chief executive warns foreign multinationals to locate elsewhere. The New York Times has already moved part of its Hong Kong operation.
Next Digital's own future base may be Taiwan, where it gets a quarter of its group sales. The arrest puts the group on the map internationally, however distressing it may be for Lai. The speed of Beijing's clampdown suggests Hong Kong, once a key Asian forum for trading goods and ideas, will soon be just another Chinese city. - Lex, Financial Times