11 Mar 2014

WDT plans to raise $5m capital

9:51 am on 11 March 2014

Wellington Drive Technologies plans to raise a further $5 million in capital through selling mandatory convertible preference shares.

The company makes energy-efficient motors and had been promising to break even this year - after failing to meet many such previous promises.

However, chief executive Greg Allen said it had decided to bring its growth plans forward instead.

The company, which was founded in the mid-1980s, had accumulated losses of $102.5 million by the end of last year and has never reported a profit.

However, Mr Allen insists it is making good progress, with gross margins going from 5 percent to 19 percent during the past two and a half years.

"We have a target to take those margins up to 25 percent ... so we've got a very solid operating platform now, which is something that we committed to shareholders that we would do, and we have done," he said.

"We're expecting further margin improvement in 2014. We've got the best inventory performance the company has ever had, our inventory and working capital performance is perfect. We're winning new customers.

"So our operating performance is sustainable, it's repeatable, it's driving the right delivery performance for our customers, we're expanding margins. We really believe now is the right time, with an operating platform that's working, to drive growth."

All shareholders will be offered one new share for every five ordinary shares they already own.

The capital raising is being underwritten by major shareholder SuperLife, which owns 19.7 percent of Wellington Drive Technologies.

Shareholders will be asked at the annual meeting in May to approve the underwriting, as it could result in SuperLife taking its holding above 20 percent; without shareholder approval, SuperLife would have to launch a takeover offer.

The new shares will be non-voting until they convert to ordinary shares in three years time, earning 5 percent interest annually until then.