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Briefcase: Business snippets from around South Australia

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In this week’s briefcase, Beston shareholders vote to terminate a deal with its investment management company, eight SA companies cement an export deal with a Texan retailer and a major east coast tyre and auto company opens its first SA outlet.

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Shareholders approve Beston management split

Beston Global Food Company shareholders have voted for a corporate restructure to bring its management in-house and terminate an arrangement with its former Investment Manager.

The Adelaide-based company, which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2015, had previously paid Beston Pacific Asset Management an annual fee of about $2 million to advise the company on key management decisions.

BPAM is owned by Beston company directors Roger Sexton and Stephen Gerlach.

The pair will share in a termination fee of $2.61 million, which consists of $1.13 million in cash and 21,125,000 shares.

Beston has narrowed its focus in recent years into dairy and meat products, spearheaded by mozzarella production at its Jervois factory.

In recent months it has also installed a new lactoferrin plant at the site.

Lactoferrin is a high-value dairy protein that is primarily used in infant formula to provide the bioactive properties that mimic breastmilk. But it can also be used in dietary supplements, pharmaceutical products including respiratory medications, cosmetics and oral hygiene products.

Beston hopes the project will turn its fortunes around, with the company yet to make a profit since hitting the ASX in 2015.

Friday’s vote had an immediate impact on Beston’s share price, boosting it almost 10 per cent to $0.092 at Friday’s close, its highest value in nine months.

Micro-X gains FDA nod for self-branded Rover

Tonsley-based company Micro-X has received FDA approval for a new version of its Rover product, allowing the hi-tech business to sell its own branded x-ray technology across global markets.

The publicly-listed company announced to the ASX on Wednesday it had received US FDA approval to sell its military-grade mobile x-ray Rover units with detectors and software from independent supplier Varex Imaging under Micro-X’s own brand.

Vartex Imaging is a US-based x-ray imaging components and software developer and manufacturer, which provides imaging detectors to global radiography brands.

The agreement between Micro-X and Vartex signals the first time the South Australian company can sell its x-ray imaging product to all markets – including healthcare – under its own name.

The company last year received FDA approval for its Rover with Fujifilm detector in military markets. Under the agreement with Fujifilm, Micro-X was restricted to selling the product in defence markets.

Micro-X began developing the Rover in 2015 after the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Health Command found the company’s carbon nanotube technology could provide the world’s first mobile x-ray unit with full hospital-grade performance and also be light enough to be deployed in an army medical facility.

Micro-X Managing Director Peter Rowland said the approval would allow the hi-tech company to begin selling the product to the US healthcare market, which is worth an estimated AU $219.3 million annually.

“Our strategy now is to have our own product,” he said.

“This deal with Varex … is an entirely Micro-X product and so there’s no restrictions on where we can sell it and who we can sell it to.

“Suddenly we have a complete imaging solution instead of just the cart that we can take to world markets.

“This is a huge step forward for Micro-X now to have its own branded, wholly-controlled, entire x-ray imaging system and now FDA approval to sell this in the USA.”

Micro-X said it had also signed a number of distribution partnerships with European and US companies, including those companies specialising in sales to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital network and southern and mid-western regions of the US.

“Increasingly we’ll have dealerships … who will start taking a Micro-X branded product. This is the start of us building up a global awareness of the brand,” Rowland said.

“Since we ended the exclusivity of our distribution relationship with Carestream Health, we now have the freedom to offer this new version of the Rover product globally and this complete imaging package moves us higher up the value chain.

“The Varex ‘Nexus DR’ detector and software platform gives state-of-the-art image quality for Rover; it is lightweight, durable and easy to use.”

Micro-X last week won the land defence Land Forces 2021 National Innovation award for its Rover.

It said prior to developing the device, only small-animal veterinary x-rays were light enough to be deployed by the military, with the lightweight Rover unit providing the first mobile x-ray able to be deployed in army medical facilities.

The company launched its flagship DRX Revolution Nano in 2017 and last year announced it would take back sales and distribution control of the lightweight product from Carestream Health after sales figures failed to meet expectations.

The change meant Micro-X was able to sell the machines through a range of distributors as well as directly to customers under the Carestream Health label.

Texas exports flow for SA food companies

Products from eight premium South Australian food producers are set to begin appearing on supermarket shelves in Texas.

The companies have struck a deal with Central Market, a grocery store chain based in San Antonio and include Pure Origins Honey, Bickford’s, Beerenberg, Robern Menz, Tucker’s Natural, Olsson’s Salt, T-Bar Fine Tea, Oleapak Olive Oil and Penfield Olives.

The program has been the culmination of work from South Australia’s new Houston-based trade and investment office that opened in March 2020.

Adelaide-based Pure Origins Honey last week exported its first shipment of premium single-origin honey products to Texas.

Managing Director Luca Scalzi said the deal with Central Market has been a great step for the family-owned business, which already exports to China, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

“It was always part of our strategy to identify opportunities in the US,” he said.

“Being a part of the Central Market deal has been a great opportunity for the Pure Origins brand to enter a new market and grow our business.”

Tyre company’s road trip reaches SA

Eastern states company, JAX Tyres & Auto has opened its first South Australian outlet with its Gilles Plains retail store beginning operation last week.

Opening its first outlet in Sydney in 1949, JAX now has 87 locations in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania and a growing e-commerce platform to deliver full automotive mechanical servicing and specialised sales of tyres, wheels, brakes, batteries and suspension.

The company said the decision to launch the North East Rd store was driven by an 87 per cent increase in website traffic from SA in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year.  It said this figure was more than double the company’s national website traffic growth, which had increased by 42 per cent in the same timeframe.

“Keeping customers at the heart of everything we do at JAX Tyres & Auto is absolutely key for us, so when we saw that there was a strong and growing community of South Australians who were looking for a local brick and mortar store, building our presence in this state to meet consumer demand became a major strategic focus for us,” said JAX Tyres & Auto CEO and Managing Director Steve Grossrieder.

Huge interest in mining explorer’s SPP

A share purchase plan offered by Adelaide-based explorer Woomera Mining has attracted interest from investors of more than 10 times the amount it set out to raise.

Under the SPP launched last month, shareholders were invited to subscribe for up to $30,000 or 1,764,706 fully paid ordinary shares at an offer price of $0.017 to raise $212,500 before costs.

However, the SPP attracted $2.23 million in subscriptions, highlighting the strong appetite for mining investment in Australia at the moment.

As a result of the over-subscription, which Woomera Mining announced last week, the directors will scale back their allocation of new shares at their discretion with the final allotment to take place today (May 31).

The precious metal and base metal explorer is searching for copper-gold mineralisation in SA’s Gawler Craton as well as nickel-copper sulphides in WA.

 

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