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The more something changes… June 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news.
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A blue freeway...get it?A couple weeks ago Bluefreeway stock resumed trading. Actually that’s a bit misleading, as “trade” implies both selling and buying in fairly equal measure, and with 6 million shares hitting the market at once thanks to Macquarie bailing out, nobody was going to scoop up that much stock.

Last week Simon Chen caught up with Rick Webb, one of the founders of Bluefreeway. The chat was completely off the record, though Simon is of the opinion now that the other side of the story needs to be told.

As of Friday the share price sat just above 7 cents, which makes it worth less than a third of its former value when the stock was initially suspended from trading so auditors could figure out how deep the rabbit hole went. There are new management initiatives being put in place to try and save the company, but when they include companies buying back their own equity at the original sell price, you have to wonder how long this flight of fancy will continue to run.

Image courtesy of kathycsus, with thanks to compfight.

Bluefreeway request extension to voluntary suspension May 22, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing.
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Bluefreeway today extended their suspension from trading while investigations continue internally. Simon Chen does a decent breakdown of the situation in his own inimitable style.

I really feel sorry for all those local companies who did a 50/50 deal for cash and stock when the fast talking Bluefreeway guys came along. There’s not one who wouldn’t be regretting their decision to sell.

Because if the core group goes pear shaped when they do finally make an announcement to the market, each and every company won’t be able to do anything. Potential buyers of the carcass (or carcasses) will be negotiating with someone from Ferrier Hodgson rather than the founders of the individual brands.

I read a great piece recently which I’ll try to dig up on matching your development cycle with your sales cycle to make sure one doesn’t sink the other. 20/20 hindsight for Bluefreeway, hopefully it will serve as a lesson to others. For those interested in the history of the “train wreck”

Bluefreeway receives voluntary suspension May 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news.
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Bluefreeway requested and received a voluntary suspension from trading today. Their shares had been on hold since last Friday after a request for a temporary trading halt was approved Monday. The halt was due to expire this morning, the shares have now been suspended with no date attached to it.

In a letter to the ASX this morning, Bluefreeway said it needed to undertake further investigations due to restructuring efforts in order to make an announcement on its expected revenue for the financial year ending June 30, 2008. Stating it would take up to two weeks to conclude investigations, the company expects the subsequent announcement to end the suspension.

What all this means is anyone’s guess, though after the spate of resignations they’ve experienced this year and Mitchells stepping away from buy-out talks, how deep the rabbit hole goes is anyone’s guess.

Bluefreeway Trading Halt May 6, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, web 2.0.
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Beleaguered digital group Bluefreeway today requested a trading halt, its shares having sat at 24 cents since the ASX closed last Friday. The ASX then suspended shares and issued an announcement saying they would remain on halt until Wednesday morning or until the company issued an announcement on its expected earnings for the financial year ending June 30th, 2008, whichever came sooner.

Last month Mitchell Media confirmed speculation it had been looking to buy the group of companies but pulled out after “preliminary” conversations. Bluefreeway had previously told the Australian Stock Exchange it had entered due diligence with a single entity This came on the back of CEO Richard Webb finally stepping away from the group of companies he helped found the month prior.

It has been an extraordinarily unfortunate year for the group, one that shows no signs of improving. The company had already warned markets on the costs of funding the redundancies currently being served to select employees, but we’ll know in the next 36 hours where the company actually stands.

For those needing a primer on the Bluefreeway so far this year

Bluefreeway shares rise, questions remain March 6, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news.
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Two days after announcing it had entered due dilligence with a third party looking to acquire it, Bluefreeway’s shares have again closed up, rounding out the day at 36 cents having opened on 25. This despite media group Mitchell Communications announcing yesterday it had been the one looking at the troubled group of companies but pulled out, releasing the following statement:

“…given the recent announcements of BlueFreeway, Mitchell Communication has informed BlueFreeway this afternoon that it has decided not to proceed with further discussions at this time.”

Bluefreeway will no doubt look for other avenues to explore, though its hard to foresee the kind of company willing to take on a ship of that size. When trouble first appeared it seemed at first moves would be made to spin-off the profitable parts of the business and shut down the rest. This still seems like the best play, and the only one the market is going to swallow in any sort of sustainable fashion.

Bluefreeway; Indigo Hindsight March 3, 2008

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Does anyone have any thoughts on the capital that funded this apparently batshit insane run through the Australian market? Somewhere in here there is an incredible story to be told. I’m willing to bet it has a bit to do with each of these things.

For anyone following the Bluefreeway saga March 3, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news.
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I can’t pretend to know markets or offer insight, so I’ll just point you in this direction.

For those needing some background, read this, then this, and then this.

*Update* As Simon suggested might happen in his post this morning, Bluefreeway are now up for sale.

Bluefreeway; the bridge is out January 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news.
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Simon Chen has a nice (if you can call it nice) wrap-up of the day’s events. Richard Webb, founder and CEO of Bluefreeway is out, as is the CFO Ken McDonnell. The share price is currently at 39 cents, back up from a low today of 26 cents, but even the offering of 76 cents a week and a half ago seems a distant and far-fetched dream now. A person who works at Bluefreeway swung by today and said they will be focusing on portfolio companies, and tagged a good deal of braggadocio on the end of it. I’m mad for a bit of defiance in the face of adversity, though it tends to carry more weight when your parent company has the cash to make good on the threats.

Best of luck to everyone affected by these developments, please feel free to share your experiences below or get in touch.

More on Bluefreeway January 16, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news.
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Before Hollywood heavyweights arrived at YouTube’s gates baying for blood we could have posted a dozen different clips from movies all with bridges out ahead and roads falling apart. Whether a picture is still worth a thousand words or not is one thing, but there is little else in this world like a line from Arnie that can make light of what is really a wholly unpleasant situation for a lot of people employed in Australia’s digital media industry.

Simon Chen has some more thoughts on the company today, along with noting that the share price has continued to slide almost 30% since last week, down to 76 cents. For those that missed the news last week, David Smithers resigned from the company after little more than three months on board as a Director. The company has remained fairly quiet since last week’s announcement, if anyone would like to share their side of the story, we’re all waiting with baited breath.

Detours on the Bluefreeway? January 9, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, web 2.0.
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Simon Chen over at Eight Black has some interesting news regarding Australian digital media conglomerate Bluefreeway.

Today, the ASX was advised that one of their Director’s was resigning…the Director in question who threw in the towel was David Smithers, an ex partner and previous Chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a not too shabby accounting and professional services firm. He also used to be the President of the Australian Institute of Accountants. Oh, and also on the board of Rabobank.

Now I know that there are always 2 sides to the story, but I’d love to hear Mr. Smithers side first. Someone with his experience, wisdom and threshold for corporate pain doesn’t just call it quits after 90 days.”

Bluefreeway have been on a buying spree over the past few years, stocking up on a veritable who’s who in the Australia media scene. Recently the retail property group Centro ran into trouble due to the cash fueling its acquisition run stemming from the US sub-prime market, I wonder (aloud and with no reason to back it up, pure speculation on my part) if the case here is in any way related.

If, as Simon says, something foul is in play, the fallout will have far reaching consequences.