8 May 2013

Hellaby defends time it took to make purchase

7:07 pm on 8 May 2013

Hellaby Holdings is defending the time it took to make its much foreshadowed purchase of the industrial services company Contract Resources.

And no sooner was the $73 million acquisition bedded down, than the investment company went out and raised another $50 million to re-stock its war-chest.

Analysts estimate Hellaby could afford to spend up to $100 million.

Hellaby Holdings managing director John Williamson says purchasing is hit and miss and the company is always prepared to walk away if the business doesn't meet expectations through due diligence.

"We're not in anyway embarrassed about the fact that it took us awhile to make an acquisition."

Mr Williamson says Contract Resources is Hellaby's first acquisition, but he's certain it won't be the last.

He says Hellaby has looked at about 20 businesses, but often the process takes a long time and often it goes nowhere once due diligence is commenced.

Mr Williamson warns the next acquisition may take a while.

"There is nothing imminent as of today, but we've signalled that we were raising capital to give us flexibility for future acquisitions and it's certainly our preference to be able to make offers that are not conditional on funding."

Hellaby will be investing further in Contract Resources - it has earmarked about $8 million in the next financial year.

But in the meantime, the company's trading environment remains patchy and Mr Williamson says those "green shoots" everybody stopped talking about some time ago are still a no show.

The company's investments, ranging from automotive parts, hire equipment, packaging, shoe retailing and now industrial services such as oil catalyst maintenance, put it in a reasonably good place to take the pulse of the economy.

Mr Williamson says they've spent the last few years restructuring and streamlining so they can take advantage of any "green shoots" which do finally appear.