Investment group wages ownership war over Globe skate brand

Investment group Mariner will push for the chairman of skatewear and equipment group Globe International to be pushed from the company’s board at an extraordinary meeting in February, in the latest development in Globe’s ongoing battle for ownership.

In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday, Globe said its meeting will be held on February 6, where Mariner will not only push for a new chairman but for a board seat as well.

The meeting was announced after shareholders – led by retail veteran Solomon Lew – voted against the company’s remuneration report two years in a row, leading to a spill vote, which passed.

It is only the second such spill vote that has occurred since the relevant laws were introduced last year.

The move is an evolution in Mariner’s bid to control the company, after it made a $19.7 million all-scrip offer for the retailer last month. Globe, led by chief executive Matthew Hill and his two brothers Peter and Stephen, advised shareholders to take no action.

The entire series of actions has left some industry veterans baffled. Tom Elliot of Beulah Capital says he’s surprised Mariner is going after such a company as Globe.

“Mariner is not known for doing these sorts of things, and given it’s been rejected by the board it’s going to be difficult to make any move,” Elliot says.

Both Mariner and Globe International were contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but no reply was available before publication.

Mariner is pushing to have chairman Paul Isherwood replaced, with chief executive Darren Olney-Fraser telling The Australian that “he’s nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Hill brothers”.

“Democratically, we have no chance because they’ve got the numbers, but if they’re going to continue running it as if it’s a private company, they should privatise it,” he said. Olney-Fraser is considering a campaign to move the company to buy out minority shareholders.

Mariner’s bid for the company comes alongside the rejected remuneration report. Although the bid for the company failed, it continues to seek a new way in – Olney-Fraser wants to nominate Mariner chairman Don Christie for a board seat.

But with the Hill brothers controlling over 67% of the company, that move is likely to fail.

Tom Elliott says Mariner’s interest in Globe seems to be out of the scope of its current portfolio.

“I’m surprised. What would Mariner want to do with it? It’s just a very odd move.”

Currently, Solomon Lew owns 5.9% of Globe, with fund manager David Williams owning another 2.3% through his firm Kidder Williams.

Globe was founded in 1984 by the Hill brothers, with the company extending into a range of skatewear and equipment. It floated on the ASX in 2001, but has lost nearly all of its value since then. In the past year, shares have fallen 17%, triggering Mariner’s takeover offer.

In fact, investors are generally upset about Globe’s performance. Net profit plummeted 95% last year to a paltry $62,000. Revenue also fell to $83 million.

Last month, the company said in a statement it has a “proven track record” of creating valuable companies.

The company manages several investments, more recently operating in food-related ventures.

 

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