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the australian - criterion

  1. 45 Posts.
    Neptune Marine Services (NMS) 20.5c (trading halt)

    READERS with inconveniently long memories will recall Criterion's past support for this contractor, which always had a plausible yarn about bulging project pipelines and the blue-sky potential of billions of dollars of slated oil and gas projects.

    Now it's struggling for its corporate breath, yesterday launching a three-for-one rights offer at 6c, a thumping discount on the current frozen price.

    The funds are needed to keep the company's banker, the National Australia Bank, at bay and to meet deferred payments to vendors of businesses bought by the acquisitive Neptune.

    But given retail investors are reluctant to embrace rights issues at the best of times, there's no guarantee of raising anything like $80m.

    Chairman Ross Kennan promises an immediate $10m cost-cutting purge and a wider strategic review, but it's hard to see much hope for a business that, like the Rudd government, so badly lost its way.

    The raising requires a shareholder meeting in mid February.

    Until then, we're all at sea. Failing a nautical miracle, we'll avoid the raising even if it means sending this one down to Davy Jones's Locker.
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