SurfStitch "exploring sales of its media assets."
Oh, to have a bug under the boardroom table at leisure empire Surfstitch this week. With the company’s shares scraping along the bottom of the ASX like a stray driftnet, bumping off heads of coral at near penny stock valuations (seven cents at last refresh), the embattled board are fending off the hordes on myriad fronts.
To the north, the barbarians from Quinn Emanuel Lawyers are lining up trolleys full of lever-arch folders in preparation for a bloody class action lawsuit.
To the south, those infidels from Gadens are also preparing for jurisprudential bloodshed.
The silks claim that SurfStitch (which has the ASX code SRF) owes investors more than one hundred million Australian dollars in compensation for misleading and deceptive conduct (not to mention breaching its continuous disclosure obligations).
Simply, investors are pissed that the board told them in 2015/16 that the company was worth more than a pile of leggies and a rack of last season’s steamers.
The action seems a tad quixotic, given that the entire battered shell is now valued at less than twenty million. But what would stock spruikers and hedge funds and short sellers know about running a surf biz?
As the gavel hovers above their heads, SRF’s board has said it wants to settle “within a reasonably short period of time” on terms that basically will not sink the entire vessel.
“Whether that is achievable will, to a large degree, depend upon the cooperation of third parties, including the class action [law] firms and litigation funders,” the company said in a dire market announcement yesterday. “The requirement to manage two class actions, in different jurisdictions, with overlapping claims, is likely to make it more difficult to bring the matters to a controlled outcome.”
That’s business-speak for… fuck!
So how does SRF intend to fund these court battles? Are they ready to lift the lid on a war-chest full of purloined silver and gold coins from the strategic acquisitions they’ve made over the years?
Well, not exactly.
The best plan the board could come up with this week was to flog their lucrative media assets, Stab and Magicseaweed. Is that not raiding the crown jewels to fend off the marauding villagers?
“In the light of the challenges facing the business, the company is exploring sales of its media assets and the potential for sales of other assets,” the board told white-knuckled investors.
Now a little background.
SRF, with canny foresight into the value of a Red Bull-style vertically integrated synergistic media-product empire, paid a mere $13.8 million and 4.8 million shares for Magicseaweed and Stab magazine in the heady days of the 2015 Asia-Pacific surf media publishing bubble.
Granted, those precious 4.8 million pieces of scrip are now worth a princely A$336,000, but that’s beside the point. Surf media is bouncing back, dammit, and now is not the time to jettison those assets like captain Ahab trying to keep his trusty galleon afloat.
So, what’s your opinion on the SRF board’s litigation and solvency strategy?
Do you think they should save Magic Stabweed?
Should they instead move their headquarters to Venice Beach, file for Chapter 11, and come out shining like a debt-free American phoenix a la Quik?
Should they hunt down the handsome blond twin and tell him all is forgiven? Would he be able to steer SurfStitch back into calmer fiscal waters?
Should they post their swipe cards to the former Macbankers who came up with this cunning ruse, and suggest they take back the helm?
Or, better still, should the brunette brethren drive the share price down even lower, before blondie rides in leading a “white knight” private-equity-backed takeover bid, thus relieving fellow shareholders of the depressing sight of an SRF code every time they log into Commsec?
And, more poignantly, do the hard-working scribes at Magic Stabweed begrudge the fact that the board put them on the chopping block instead of dumping that bunch of expired patents masquerading as a fin technology company?
The drama. The excitement. The corporate manoeuvering. The intrigue.