New Zealand Exchange

Nothing to see here, except Derek Handley sweating

Snakk Media, the NZAX listed company whose auditor raised doubts as to Snakk as a going concern, issued a comical press release to the NZX called “Nothing to see here” earlier yesterday morning. The NBR, who has been investigating the auditors raising of Snakk’s risks, has the press release here.

Full marks for trying to engage in some desperate misdirection but Snakk addressed none of the questions asked by media.

It would seem the market is not buying Chairman Derek’s bluff and bluster, with the share price free falling by 8% on Monday and falling a further 5% more on Tuesday.

Here are some interesting questions for the media to ask of Derek Handley and Snakk:

Why won’t you answer the NBR’s questions?

Why did Chairman Handley cut his salary if everything is going swimmingly?   Read more »

Derek Handley is becoming the Terry Serepisos of tech

Derek Handley

Derek Handley

Derek Handley, the sustainability show pony, has some grim news for his shareholders at Snakk Media.

It seems the business may not be sustainable.

Auditors have highlighted a “material uncertainty” as to whether Snakk Media can carry on as a going concern, as it scraps plans for an ASX listing and plans to raise more money from shareholders.

The NZAX-listed digital advertising agency, which matches advertisers with mobile users, released its annual report to the stock exchange late Friday afternoon.

In the report, management says the company’s ability to operate as a going concern depends on its ability to achieve budgeted revenue and gross margins, whether it can finalise a financing agreement and receive continuing support from shareholders.

Auditors Staples Rodway highlight this, saying: “These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the group’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The auditors suggest that if the company is unable to continue its operations, assets may need to be revalued and bank debt may need to be reclassified as short-term.

Handley and Snakk thought they might get away with releasing their annual report late on a Friday, hoping it might get ignored. I guess the NBR is wise to that trick.

According to the NBR, it looks like some of Snakk’s non-current liabilities might look more like current liabilities if these uncertainties should continue.  That sounds a lot like code words for the bank calling its debt in.

Derek Handley is the Terry Serepisos of tech, all piss and wind. After all, it’s not the first company he’s struggled with. He ran his old company Feverpitch, a failed online gambling company, into the ground back in 2003. The NZX wreckage mutated into a reverse listing before that, in turn, got delisted.

Investors in Snakk and believers of Handley’s hype-spraying might want to read the annual report very closely to make sure they are happy with Snakk’s big picture.

SkyTV will be sure to ask questions of Derek as well, since they, for some unknown reason, thought it a good idea to put Derek on their board of directors.

One thing’s for sure, we won’t be seeing Derek updating his own Wikipedia page with the news he might ruin his second listed company unless he finds some cash, pronto. Maybe instead of lecturing others he might listen to some wiser old hands about what business sustainability is all about.



Brian Gaynor’s Milford Asset Management slammed with $1.5M fine

The NZX has announced a massive fine of $1.5m against Brian Gaynor’s Milford Asset Management.

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has completed its investigation into certain trading activity between December 2013 and August 2014 by a trader employed by Milford Asset Management Limited (Milford). The FMA considers that the trading conduct breached the market manipulation prohibitions in s11B of the Securities Markets Act 1988. The FMA also concluded that the Milford Board failed to ensure that there was the requisite degree of monitoring of the trading activity.

The FMA considers that the conduct had, or was likely to have had, the effect of causing the creation of a false or
misleading appearance with respect to:
• the extent of active trading in the relevant securities; or
• the supply of, demand for, price for trading in, or value of those securities.

As Milford is the relevant trader’s employer, the FMA considers that Milford is liable for the trader’s alleged breaches of the Act. Milford denies that it is liable for any alleged breaches. The FMA acknowledges that its conclusions have not been tested in court.    Read more »

Herald continues to keeps Milford columnist when NZ Super suspends them


Yet again, Brian Gaynor of the besieged financial firm Milford Asset Management has his weekly column published in the NZ Herald, despite the NZ Super Fund taking the unprecedented step of suspending Milford from running any investment mandates for them.

You will recall the FMA is investigating Milford Asset Management staff and transactions for alleged manipulation of share prices for their fund and personal gain.    Read more »

Who is the alleged Dirty Trader at Milford Asset Manipulation?

On Saturday, we covered the Herald’s ongoing publication of Brian Gaynor’s column. This is despite his firm, Milford Asset Manipulation, coming under intense scrutiny due to a complaint to the FMA from the NZX (no less) over alleged stock price management.

Hang on, I might have that wrong. I meant Milford Asset Management under fire for alleged manipulation.

It beggars believe that Gaynor still gets to publish his column in the Weekend Herald, but I guess when you advertise heavily with NZME. (the Herald’s parent company), then the Herald gives you a get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to allegations of bad news.

Given that Milford have a mandate to buy and sell shares on behalf of the NZ taxpayer, as well as the savings of tens of thousands of private citizens in NZ, I think we deserve a little more sunlight on the goings ons at this company under fire for allegations of stock manipulation. Through a process of elimination we can shine a bit more light where Milford might prefer to keep us in the dark.

We know that Milford have six portfolio managers (which have been euphemistically described as “traders”), plus Brian Gaynor himself as Executive Director and Chairman of the Investment Committee, which technically makes him ultimately responsible for his team‘s behaviour.  Read more »

For once I agree with Sam Morgan, but he’s a bludging hypocrite himself

Sam Morgan has taken a swipe at the Government’s ongoing corporate welfare via the Callaghan Fund and sparked a stoush with Steven Joyce the minister responsible for handing out the welfare.

TradeMe founder Sam Morgan has called the Government’s research and development policy a “subsidy for private investors” during a cut-and-thrust social media exchange with Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

The Government yesterday announced its Callaghan Innovation had awarded a further $32 million over three years to 22 high tech companies under the Research and Development Growth Grants scheme.

The latest companies come from a wide range of industries from aviation to horticulture and include two companies that floated in the past year – online travel software company Serko and software company GeoOp.

News of the grants prompted Morgan, an entrepreneur who has been involved with a number of grant recipients in the past, to take to social networking site Twitter and say taxpayers were “giving free money to publicly listed tech companies to benefit wealthy tech investors”.

“Serko. Good company. Just raised lots of money on NZX. No constraint on raising more capital. Successful grant recipient. Unnecessary,” Morgan said.    Read more »

Mediaworks About To Be Chopped Up Into Bits And Sold?

Congratulations are due to Mediaworks for appointing Mark Weldon to head their Group as CEO. He replaces Sussan Turner who left rather suddenly resigned and is exploring other career options.

Weldon has the perfect background for Mediaworks.   Ratings focused, driven, one way people management skills and effortlessly capable of building strong teams to enhance the shareholder value of an organisation.

Weldon has no background in media and the appointment suggests that TV producer director Julie Christie will continue to provide intelligence on the sector.

Such a comment by keyboard grump John Drinnan is particularly unfair.

NZX was the greatest reality soap opera in town under Weldon’s leadership, the casting couch of characters was enormous as disgruntled staff left and new bright eyed disciples were employed.  Indeed Mediaworks currently does not employ anyone on your television or radio with a larger ego than Weldon, even Willie Jackson, Sean Plunket and Duncan Garner combined can’t compete.  The clashes will continue to be ginormous and fill Drinnan’s column with rumours and innuendo for months on end.    Read more »

Is Radio NZ seconding Herald staff?

Who would know what Radio NZ is trying to say with this news?

Perhaps Bryce Johns has managed to get some of his “decent journalists, trained and skilled” new positions at Radio New Zealand.


Read more »

Mighty River Power share price set at $2.50, Greens/Labour give discount to investors

The Green/Labour attempted sabotage of the Mighty River Power float was only partially successful. Sensible investors stayed the course and have now received a healthy discount for their shares...meaning they can buy more for the money invested.

Investors in Mighty River Power will pay $2.50 per share, the government said this evening.

Of the shares issued, 86.5 per cent will be New Zealand owned (spread over 110,000 shareholders):  26.9 per cent by New Zealand retail investors, 8.6 per cent by New Zealand institutions and with the Crown retaining a majority 51 per cent shareholding.  That leaves 13.5 per cent for overseas institutions.

The share price will raise $1.7 billion for government coffers.   Read more »

How the NZX degrades itself

by Winslow Taggart

Mark Weldon did some great things with the NZX but under his stewardship, the NZX also degraded itself with a number of companies listed on its bourse.

Big listings that went bad like Feltex get all the media attention, but the other area that lets the NZX down is with joke companies that maintain an NZX listing when it’s pretty obvious that they are pathetic shells or fiscal three ring circuses.

Two good examples of this come from two very different types of mismanagement.

The first is that of Blis, a company that makes probiotic products. Priobiotics are “good bacteria” that help digestive tracts, prevent colds etc. Blis launched several years ago and proceeded to burn cash at a fearsome rate. Sales never took off like promised, and the share price has gone from just over $1 in late 2001 to 1c today. The supposedly very nice people who run Blis are scientists from Dunedin who have utterly failed to commercialise their product. It has failed as a company in its own right, and would be better to sell out to a health foods company who know how to market health benefits to consumers.

The second example is that of a financial advisory company called IRG, born out of the failed wheelings and dealings of Dorchestor Pacific and Viking Capital. IRG has announced just today a loss of $1.14 million, when it’s entire market cap is $1.55m! From a peak of 35c in early 2007, IRG is now worth 0.003c per share, in other words, less than a joke. IRG is ably chaired by some goose called Marvin Yee and run by Brent King, whose run-ins with corporate NZ are easily google-able, like this article here.

Putting aside the obvious point that people should be careful when considering investing in or using the services of a financial advisory firm that loses almost as much money in one year as their entire market cap, the NZX should really do the honourable thing and suspend this joke to at stop people from trading in something so pointless.

The NZX should bite the bullet and start notifying the joke companies on the NZX that if they don’t meet market cap, liquidity and fiscal requirements, they’ll be suspended. Here’s hoping Tim Bennett leads the NZX to focus on quality over quantity of listings.