Needs to shine a lit­tle light…

A paucity of rel­e­vant fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion

Finweek English Edition - - Companies & Markets - MARC HASENFUSS march@fin­

THE WEB­SITE for (sup­pos­edly) soon-to-belisted air­line SunAir Hold­ings blares out the op­ti­mistic an­them: “May the sun shine bright on you” as an air­craft – decked out in red and white liv­ery – glides past a re­ally kitsch orange sun­set. That’s the sort of happy pic­ture that should hearten ev­ery op­ti­mistic in­vestor that’s plunged cash into SunAir – a ven­ture that three years down the line has still not taken to the skies with its much-vaunted Cape Town to Lon­don flights.

But the real pic­ture isn’t that clear and the com­pany – which has ped­dled shares to the pub­lic for a cou­ple of years – cer­tainly needs to shine a lit­tle light on key cor­po­rate and fi­nan­cial is­sues. There’s some ur­gency in es­tab­lish­ing the ba­sic cor­po­rate con­stituents at SunAir, as it’s an­nounced it will list on an un­named stock ex­change on 1 Septem­ber this year. In fact, SunAir’s web­site has a list­ing count­down clock – which, by the time you read this re­port, will be down to 15 days.

To date (as far as Fin­week can as­cer­tain), SunAir hasn’t is­sued a pre-list­ing state­ment or any au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments. Nor has an of­fi­cial prospec­tus been re­leased – de­spite the com­pany’s on­go­ing ef­forts to sell shares to the pub­lic. With roughly two weeks to go to a mooted list­ing, it would seem rea­son­able that SunAir should pro­duce the nec­es­sary prelist­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion. Any half way de­cent bourse would surely in­sist upon such cor­po­rate pro­to­col…

Per­haps the lack of pre-list­ing in­for­ma­tion sug­gests SunAir is opt­ing for a so-called al­ter­na­tive list­ing on one of the lesser-known trad­ing plat­forms. In that re­gard it may well be sig­nif­i­cant that its web­site still car­ries a link to Bri­tish-based Plus Mar­kets – an in­de­pen­dent trad­ing plat­form for smaller com­pa­nies.

But it’s dif­fi­cult not to re­gard such a paucity of rel­e­vant fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion for a soon-to-be-listed com­pany – com­bined with its ex­ec­u­tives’ stead­fast re­fusal to en­ter­tain ba­sic me­dia en­quiries – with­out sus­pi­cion.

De­spite nu­mer­ous at­tempts, Fin­week hasn’t been able to gar­ner the most ba­sic of cor­po­rate in­for­ma­tion from SunAir – in­for­ma­tion that would pro­vide the crit­i­cal back­drop to whether there’s sub­stance in this air­line ven­ture. Why SunAir is de­clin­ing

2. to pro­vide us with that in­for­ma­tion isn’t known. It re­ally is the kind of fi­nan­cial data that should be freely avail­able from any com­pany that has pub­lic in­vestors.

In April this year Fin­week sent an email to SunAir CEO An­dré Sha­ban. We sim­ply asked for an up­date on its list­ing process for the plus mar­ket – not­ing (at that stage) the com­pany’s web­site claimed trad­ing would start in first quar­ter 2008. We asked for a copy of SunAir’s latest au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments and also asked for an es­ti­mate of how much fund­ing had been raised for SunAir through the sale of un­listed shares.

Ear­lier this month we re­sub­mit­ted ques­tions to SunAir. Once again those were fairly straight­for­ward en­quiries: 1. With ref­er­ence to your an­nounced list­ing date, could you in­di­cate which stock ex­change or trad­ing plat­form SunAir is list­ing on. Is there a prospec­tus or pre-list­ing state­ment avail­able at the mo­ment? If so, may I have a copy please? 3. How much money does SunAir want to raise at list­ing? Is there a big in­vestor com­ing aboard? Can you iden­tify such an in­vestor? 4. When does SunAir en­vis­age un­der­tak­ing the first flights be­tween Cape Town and Lon­don? One of the reg­u­lar ploys in the un­listed ven­ture cap­i­tal sec­tor is that com­pa­nies need­ing a cap­i­tal in­jec­tion from pub­lic share­hold­ers tend to dan­gle a list­ing as a prover­bial car­rot. Most of the time such list­ings never tran­spire, or are sub­ject to pro­longed de­lays.

At the time of writ­ing Fin­week re­ceived anony­mous tip-offs that SunAir had re­cently raised cap­i­tal in the Far East on the back of list­ing plans. The com­pany’s web­site had pre­vi­ously al­luded to a deep-pock­eted in­ter­na­tional backer but that ref­er­ence was sub­se­quently re­moved with­out fur­ther de­tail be­ing pro­vided.

Within a fort­night all must be re­vealed at mys­te­ri­ous SunAir – al­though we wouldn’t be sur­prised if what ul­ti­mately tran­spires is a case of “list­ing de­ferred”.

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