Blue Star hires Goldman Sachs as it seeks quick sale

The company’s bonds on the New Zealand Exchange had been placed in a trading halt as ProPrint went to publication, “pending the release of an announcement”.

Managing director Phillip Bower spoke to ProPrint earlier today, following mainstream news reports of the latest development in the sale process.

According to Monday’s Australian Financial Review, a sale is expected to return $100 million to $150 million.

The best-case scenario figure is less than half the NZ$385 million that Champ paid for the company in 2006. It would not cover the company’s substantial debt load, which amounts to over NZ$200 million.

Blue Star revealed on 2 July that it had received multiple offers from unnamed parties, including “an unsolicited conditional proposal to acquire all of the business” and “unsolicited approaches to acquire certain divisions or business units within the group”.

Managing director Phillip Bower told ProPrint that the board was calling the shots, not the banks.

“We’re working with the banks as a prime stakeholder, but the decisions on where we go and how we do it are being made by the board of Blue Star.”

Bower confirmed that Goldman Sachs was advising the company during the sale process and said the board remained open-minded about its outcome.

“We’ll assess offers for parts or whole of the company and determine whether we want to proceed with them,” he said.

“We prefer to go faster rather than slower, only because the uncertainty doesn’t provide any benefit to customers, employees and suppliers.”

Bower said all three groups had remained “very positive” during the past few weeks of uncertainty, because they realised that while owners sometimes moved on, companies remained constant.

He pointed to the recent sale of New Zealand subsidiary Rapid Labels – although the company had changed hands, the staff had been retained and the business relationships had continued, he said.

Bower also told ProPrint that shareholders could expect “strong results” when the company posted its annual results at the end of August.

Click here to read about the ups and downs of Blue Star.

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