Thursday, March 05, 2009

"Behind the scenes" with Marathon

Senior South Australian Liberal Party figurehead, Federal Senator Nick Minchin, has said that “revelations about the rather intriguing and complex background to Black Pearl Global Opportunity Fund, now a substantial shareholder of Marathon Resources…should be of considerable interest to all South Australians, given Marathon’s thoroughly undesirable proposal to open a uranium mine in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.”

In a letter published in the current edition of Adelaide newspaper The Independent Weekly, Minchin continues, “If Marathon is to become the plaything of international hedge fund operators operating out of the Cayman Islands, then I for one am even more convinced that the Rann Government should not allow Marathon to renew its controversial test-drilling program at Arkaroola, and should announce that it will never allow a uranium mine to be established in a part of SA that is simply too precious to mine.”

Minchin’s long-standing personal opposition to the Marathon venture is very welcome, although probably not by his old Senatorial sparring partner, Labor’s (former) Senator Chris Schacht.

Schacht has just added to his shareholding in the company by taking up some of his entitlements as a Director under a rights issue. He’s increased his holdings from 45,000 to 63,000 shares whilst CEO Peter Williams has increased his from 684,000 to 817,600.

These acquisitions occurred on December 10, 2008. However, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) was only notified on March 3, 2009 despite a rule that requires notification within 5 business days.

When the ASX sent Marathon a “please explain”, the best Marathon could do was to plead “inadvertent administrative error and the fact that the holiday period followed the issue and allotment date”.

Pretty bloody sloppy, and the ASX must be getting sick and tired of sending this mob “please explains”.

The real “please explain”, however, should be why Williams and Schacht are buying further into a company that does not yet have its exploration program reinstated and whilst State Parliament is yet to vote on Greens Senator Mark Parnell’s private members Bill to ban mining at Arkaroola.

And why, for that matter, Ken Talbot, former CEO of Macarthur Mining, whom the kiddies in the chatroom are convinced is “a very smart man” has gone on a buying spree starting January 20, 2009 and increased family company Talbot Group Holding’s stake from 13.7 million shares or 18.1%, to 14.5 million shares or 19.1% of Marathon Resources with on-market purchases. The shares were acquired at between 34 cents to 40 cents per share.

One of my chatroom readers (g’day “lazyguns”) believes that Talbot is “patiently waiting for the smaller holders to sell down in to them due to the DOW panic etc. IMO they seem to be putting a lid on the price at 40c to soak up as many shares as they can in the mid 30s range….he seems to be a man who knows what is going on behind the scene.”

Talbot and Chinese investment giant CITIC formerly had a Memorandum of Understanding to act as associates in Marathon (as they have in several other ventures), but dissolved that partnership on January 15.

Did CITIC not want to waste more of its money on Marathon?

Did the MOU have to go to free Talbot’s hand?

Is someone getting assurances that the State Government will accept Marathon’s “change of heart”, block Parnell’s Bill and restore the exploration licence “under the close supervision and monitoring of PIRSA”? (PIRSA is the SA government’s primary industries department.)

Who else knows “what is going on behind the scenes”?

1 comment:

Xanthopus said...

Great piece, Mike!

Hard to believe any of this farce is still going on. Also hard to believe that the ASX and PIRSA both aren't asking themselves why such a small operation should take up such a disproportionate amount of their time...

And I'm glad to see the a-certain-Investor-Forum brigade are getting beyond their Cargo-Cult mentality and looking for some info on Marathon that doesn't confirm their (increasingly bizarre) prejudices. The scientific method, guys, involves looking for disconfirming rather than confirming evidence occasionally...