Opus proposes ASX exit

Opus Group is seeking an exit from the ASX, with plans to start a new entity, incorporated in Bermuda, and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange as Left Field Printing Group Limited.


This would follow on the lead from its partner company, Lion Rock Group, which is incorporated in Bermuda and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.


Richard Celarc, executive chairman, Opus Group, has clarified to Australian Printer that criticisms of the decision, including the claim that it is an attempt to avoid tax in Australia, are without merit.


He says, “This is not a Bermuda tax dodge, we are an Australian company with 400 employees here.


"Opus has paid and will continue to pay full tax to the Australian government under the three operating subsidiaries – McPhersons Printing Group, Ligare and CanPrint Communications.


"Since Lion Rock Group took majority control of Opus in 2014, $7m has been spent on upgrading capacity and equipment. Significant capital investment will also be spent in the coming two years.


"Opus Group has reached a point where significant investments for machinery upgrade and plant consolidation is needed. Therefore, a move of its listing to Hong Kong where investors’ interest in the printing sector is stronger will help Opus Group’s fund raising in the future."


Richard Celarc remains the largest individual shareholder and Lion Rock Group the controlling shareholder in the Opus Group.


Opus shareholders will be given the option to exchange their shares in Opus for Left Field Printing Group, being offered three new shares for every Opus share traded.


The Opus board has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the scheme, with the vote scheduled to take place in September.


In its application to be listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, Opus says, “We plan to make various improvements to expand and/or streamline our existing facilities and warehousing facilities.”


It points to a potential relocation or reorganisation of its CanPrint site, located in Canberra. CanPrint does a bulk of sensitive government print work, including printing the Federal Budget.


Opus says this would be under a single production and warehousing facility in order to accommodate the expected expansion of capacity and streamline the business. It also notes it has yet to identify a specific location for the potential relocation.


More potential investments are noted in the application: one new additional digital printing press, three binding machines, along with replacement machinery including an additional three digital printing presses, two more binding machines, and one prepress machine.


By bringing more binding machines in house, Opus says it can monitor the quality of its works more closely.


Opus says the benefits of delisting, and subsequent listing in Hong Kong include allowing shareholders to take advantage of the market dynamics of the Hong Kong exchange, including higher anticipated market liquidity, increased trading and investment activity, and an expected uplift in the company’s market capitalisation, enhancing its corporate profile and attracting Hong Kong investors.

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