In business, there are winners, and there are losers. And even though we’re only just a few weeks into 2016, we already know who this year’s biggest business losers are – the mugs who bought stock in Dick Smith Electronics from private equity firm Anchorage Capital.
The electronics retail giant went into receivership on January 4, after Anchorage bought the chain of stores from Woolworths in 2012, and only had to stump up about $10 million of their own cash in the process.
Anchorage paid the remainder of the sale price (just over $100 million) out of Dick Smith’s own bank account by offloading a huge quantity of stock. It looked great on the books, so Anchorage floated the company on the stock exchange.
Investors queued up to get a piece of the action, and in just over 12 months, Anchorage had turned $10 million into more than $500 million.
One problem – Dick Smith then had to borrow huge amounts of cash to re-stock their stores. You can read a simple explanation of how the collapse of Dick Smith occurred here, and a scathing explanation of Anchorage Capital’s actions here.
Before you do, you might like to know at least one of the faces behind Anchorage Capital’s ‘big day out’.
Adviser to Anchorage’s Investment Committee is none other than Allan Moss, former CEO of Macquarie Bank and the husband of former Independent Commission Against Corruption Commissioner, Irene Moss.
There’s no suggestion, of course, that Mr Moss engaged in any illegal conduct – indeed everything Anchorage did appears to be entirely legal. Indeed in the business world, there’s nothing really even immoral about it. But that’s likely to be small comfort for the shareholders left with worthless Dick Smith stock.
And speaking of stock, Moss’ continues to rise.
Just three weeks before the collapse of Dick Smith, federal treasurer Scott Morrison announced that Moss would be joining the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Thus, even though we’re only a few weeks into 2016, Allan Moss has already emerged as one of the big winners for the year.
That’s in stark contrast to the staff of Dick Smith, who are the other big losers for 2016.
Not only will they – some 3,300 of them – soon be looking for new jobs, but quite a few of them will also be looking to sell some of the goods they bought in Dick Smith’s big Christmas Sale (the one that was supposed to save their company from collapse) after being urged by email by management to snap up some of the great bargains on offer.
That email – which Dick Smith management, remarkably, denied even existed – was sent out December 8, the very same day Morrison announced Moss’ appointment to the RBA.
Like we said, in business there’s winners and there’s losers.