BrisConnect is a multibillion enterprise set up to build a series of PPP road and buslink projects in Brisbane. The backers are the usual big names like Macquarie Bank and Deutsche Bank.
Yet a Melbourne woman, named Hang Fe, just bought a 10 per cent stake in BrisConnect and you can do likewise if you have a spare $32 000 sitting around (immediate word of advice:DON’T). Shares in BrisConnect are currently trading at 0.1 cents, so Hang Fe’s investment brought her no less than 32 million of them.
The catch (there’s always a catch, isn’t there) is that these are partly paid “stapled securities” carrying with them an obligation to pay an additional $1 a share next April, and a further $1 in early 2010. For 32 million shares, that comes out at $64 million dollars. But most analysts say the value of fully paid shares will be well below $2, so anyone who pays up will lose a lot of money.
It seems safe to say that, at this point, holding BrisConnect shares makes sense only if you have no other assets the company can seize to enforce the $1 payment. For someone in this position, the shares appear to represent a one-way bet, admittedly at long odds. And, presumably, anyone who is in position to pay will be sure to sell out before the payment is due in April: a problem with partly paid shares of which I was unaware until now.
Since the remaining payments almost certainly won’t be made, the obligation will therefore fall on the underwriters. That in turn raises the question of whether the underwriters will still be around, and in a position to pay up, when the money falls due. That seems fairly likely as regards the payment due in 2009, but much less certain as regards Macquarie in 2010. At that point, the whole thing will presumably fall back into the lap of the Queensland government.
Note: I am Not a Financial Advisor, and I don’t claim an exact understanding of either Brisconnect or the implications of buying partly paid shares when you are already insolvent. So, please seek proper advice before going anywhere near this.
Hat-tip: Rabee Tourky alerted me to this