Nexus set to reject Stokes’ bid
Nexus Energy shareholders have almost certainly rejected a takeover bid, raising speculation that billionaire Kerry Stokes miscalculated with his low offer.
Investors overwhelmingly ignored the board’s advice sending Nexus into likely voluntary administration.
At a meeting for a shareholder vote, Nexus revealed that 58 per cent of proxy votes had rejected the offer, with just a 25 per cent against vote needed to scuttle the deal.
Proxy votes represented 68 per cent of all shares, with the final vote results still to come late on Thursday.
Dissident shareholders have chosen the possibility of receiving nothing for their investments instead of the two cents a share Mr Stokes’ Seven Group was offering.
Activist shareholder Stephen Mayne, representing the Australian Shareholders Association, urged directors to step down, saying it was a rare example of a democratic expression of disagreement with a board.
“I can’t think of a scenario like this,” he said.
Nexus’ shares were 5.9 cents when the $26.6 million bid lobbed on March 31.
They have since fallen to 1.3 cents, with the market cap shrinking to $17 million.
Nexus was worth more than $1 billion six years ago.
Seven says it will try to take control of Nexus’s assets anyway as a creditor, having provided a rumoured $115 million in bridge financing.
An investor and industry professional familiar with the matter told AAP Mr Stokes had not expected to lose the vote and did not want Nexus in administration, raising the possibility of a better offer.
If Nexus cannot meet its financial commitments to its best asset, the Crux gas field in Western Australia, then operator Royal Dutch Shell could seize it and Seven would miss out.
Seven would be saddled with Nexus’s financial problems, including soaring drilling costs, debt and other commitments, but not its best asset.
Nexus chief executive Lucio Della Martina said $400 million was needed to get out of trouble, which Seven would meet if the takeover occurred.
Director John Hartwell was understood to be angry at Seven but told shareholders while he shared their pain it was the only way they would realise any value for their shares.
Dozens of shareholders lined up to angrily attack the board and management.
“There is either mismanagement involved or people were not competent to perform the tasks they were being paid to do,” shareholder Trevor Fraser said.
Shareholders also attacked the board and auditors PwC of negligence in valuing the company’s equity at $300 million less than a year ago and claiming the balance sheet was strong and no capital needed to be raised.
“This has come as a shock to many shareholders: going from not needing funding to almost bankrupt in the space of a few months,” said one shareholder, who said he had lost heavily and was yet to inform his family.