BrisConnections Disconnect

Nick Bolton Sells Out

It turns out that Nick Bolton sold out of his position in BrisConnections to the Leightons Group for the sum of $4.5m.

The rebel shareholder who pushed for a meeting of unitholders that had been expected to jeopardise the nation’s biggest infrastructure project has done an about-face – and netted himself $4.5 million in the process.

Nicholas Bolton’s company Australian Style Investments sold 77 million shares in BrisConnections, the builder of the $4.8 billion Brisbane airport toll road, to Theiss-John Holland.

Theiss-John Holland is a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, the company that won the contract to build the road.

Mr Bolton was engaged in a court battle against BrisConnections. He had pushed for a meeting of unit holders that had been expected to commence wind-up proceedings today.

But he did a complete about-face, selling the shares and voting against the resolutions he had earlier pushed for – and he did not attend the meeting in person.

BrisConnections chairman Trevor Rowe told an angry meeting of unit holders that Australian Style Investments had voted against all seven resolutions when its proxies were received on Saturday.

Mr Bolton’s surprise move makes it virtually impossible for retail investors to pass any resolutions that would wind up BrisConnections or its trusts.

So that goes to show his motion to wind up BrisConnections was nothing but a play to make somebody shake some money out of the tree for him. Good for Mr. Bolton, but he leaves a lot of disappointed people in his wake. Naturally, the required 75% vote for the resolution did not happen, which means all those mum-and-dad investors are stuck with the $1-per-unit obligation at the end of this month.

I imagine Mr. Bolton might have to watch his back for the rest of his life, but he now has $4.5million to keep him safe. You can’t blame a guy for selling out at the right moment.  I’m not sure it’s the kind of bargain most people would have made – but the $94m bill probably looked scary, and he himself probably didn’t believe there would be the 75% to back his challenge. The bummer now is that things got a lot less interesting on the unit-holders’ challenge front.

I’ve been speaking to people in the know and they they think the maths underlying the prospectus itself is incredibly dodgy, and that ASIC (for once) might wade in to see if Mac Bank really had done their due diligence by ASIC in launching such a troubled product on the market. If their forecast on the traffic is just as wrong as all the other toll road forecasts that have preceded it, then there might be a reason for ASIC to look into this thing more seriously. I mean, does anybody remember Sydney’s own Cross City Tunnel fiasco?

The ABC News is also reporting that Deustche Bank and Mac Bank are not exactly seeing eye to eye on the matter of underwriting, so we’ll see where all this is going to go, even without Nick Bolton’s amazing challenge. So much for that.

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