Friday, March 18, 2011

Whimp Makes share offers you can refuse

If you are an investor, a seasoned one or a beginner, you have probably heard of the balding, mustachioed weasel Bernard Whimp by now.

Mr Whimp is the man who has been making "low ball" offers for NZX listed shares for a number of years and has been quite successful in his pursuit of less than sophisticated investors who have, believe it or not, accepted substantially less than market value for a range of NZX shares.

He has also been known to fail to pay for a number of share trades.

His latest exploits though are even more daring than previous attempts at duping the elderly and bewildered.

From the NBR and related to Vector Ltd [VCT.NZX] shares the latest ruse by Mr Whimp goes something like this:

"Mr Whimp is offering Vector shareholders $3.20 per share, which is above current market price, but the amount is only payable in instalments over a ten year period and all future dividends are foregone from the time the offer is accepted," Mr Stiassny said.

"There is no certainty that the instalments would be paid and shareholders should be aware they would become unsecured creditors in the event Mr Whimp fails to meet his payment obligations."

While Mr Whimp's "high ball" offers might look ridiculous in the extreme to most of us, he will probably get enough bites to make the whole exercise worthwhile.

There is legislation in progress to put a halt to this otherwise legal practice and clearly it isn't a good look for the market as a whole when this sort of nonsense goes on.

Having said that, it appears to me that any seller to Whimp is doing so of their own free will after of course reading all the material supplied to the prospective seller and then making their judgment based on that.

One can only protect investors so much.


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c Share Investor 2011