Medical diagnosis technology company AnteoTech (ASX: ADO) has made the Brisbane Top Companies list for the first time as investor interest was buoyed by its relationship as a supplier to Ellume, another med-tech founded by former Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year Sean Parsons, whose home COVID-19 tests are sold over-the-counter in the US.
But AnteoTech's global impact doesn't end there, with its AnteoBind technology used by the Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, for quality control. Co-founded by its chief scientific officer Joe Maeji, the company aims to become an an assay developer in its own right as part of its strategy to move 'up the value chain'.
Another Brisbane med-tech company, spectroscopy device group ImpediMed (ASX: IPD), is in the list again, while high-profile health industry investor and businessman Glen Richards chairs People Infrastructure (ASX: PPE). Another company he chairs, Healthia (ASX: HLA), only just missed out on making the list.
41. Sunland Group (SDG)
2020 rank: 33
Market Cap: $393m
FY21 revenue: $274.35m
FY21 profit: $24.95m
CEO: Sahba Abedian
CEO salary: $805,459
Sunland Group is a property developer, but over the past couple of years it has become a property owner cashing in on rising property values.
After announcing plans to sell down its development portfolio last year, Sunland ramped up those plans in FY21 by cashing in more than $40 million in assets. The current year’s asset sales have already exceeded this figure.
The primary motivation for the winding down has been the board’s frustration at the Sunland share price which has consistently failed to match the group’s net asset backing for many years.
An extended share buyback campaign over the past decade failed to give the shares the bounce the company was seeking. So, it has decided to pull up stumps and cash it all in.
Shareholders reaped a 50c dividend from the company in FY21, including a 38c special dividend thanks to the asset sales. The shares have surged in the past year, recently reaching a near 14-year high of $2.93.
Sunland is a keen counter-cyclical developer that has managed to exit markets ahead of downturns and buy into markets at the low end of the cycle.
In recent years, its focus has been on the Gold Coast, buying at a time when the Sydney and Melbourne markets were reaching new highs. The Gold Coast is now proving to be a property seller’s heaven and Sunland continues to cash in.
In October, the company sold the retail component of The Lanes at Mermaid Waters to Panthera Group for $45.8 million. This comes on top of the $48.75 million sale earlier of three development sites within The Lanes – with two sites snared by Gold Coast business identities Darryl Kelly and Brett Frizelle (the husband of Sunland director Rebecca Frizelle) and the other by local developer Roycorp Group. The sale to Kelly and Frizelle is going to a shareholder vote in December.
Sunland continues to develop residential apartments on the Mermaid Waters site, reaping a big dividend from the property which was snapped up in 2015 for $61 million after lying dormant for decades.
Sunland also secured the sale of the Greenmount Resort earlier this year with the proceeds to be recorded in the current year. A private company controlled by Sunland founder and chairman Soheil Abedian and CEO Sahba Abedian bought the redevelopment site for $42.3 million.
In March, Sunland sold the former ABC studios site at Toowong on which it had planned a twin-tower development. The $43.5 million condition sale is due to settle in January and will contribute a $4.3 million net profit this financial year.
Although it is selling down assets, Sunland still managed to achieve a sharp increase in property development transactions in FY21, totalling 596 sales and 458 settlements, almost double the number from a year earlier.
The fate of the former Gold Coast-based company after the asset selldown remains unclear, although it is likely that it will be wound down over the next two years.
42. People Infrastructure (PPE)
Commercial & Professional Services
2020 rank: 32
Market Cap: $392m
FY21 revenue: $444.28m
FY21 profit: $17.73m
CEO: Ross Thompson
CEO salary: $450,000 plus incentives
It has been another year of growth through acquisitions for People Infrastructure (ASX: PPE) with the recruitment company bedding down four separate deals totalling more than $30 million in calendar 2021, as well as securing a key recruitment of its own.
The company says it is set for a new era with the appointment of Ross Thompson, a former senior executive with engineering and environmental services group Cardno (ASX: CDD), as its new CEO.
Thompson replaced interim CEO and company founder Declan Sherman who stepped into the role late last year following the sudden departure of David Cuda from the role.
Sherman remains an executive director, leading the group’s acquisitions team. Thompson comes to People Infrastructure with a strong track record of growing ‘people-based businesses’.
Chairman Glen Richards, entrepreneur and founder of veterinary group Greencross, heralded Thompson’s appointment in October for bringing "a combination of an entrepreneurial mindset with significant operational capability".
Thompson joined People Infrastructure after formerly heading the Australian and Asia-Pacific operations of UK-listed professional services firm RPS Group Plc (LSE: RPS).
The People Infrastructure share price has been given a lift since Thompson’s appointment.
People Infrastructure largely focuses on sourcing, skilling and managing workforces in the healthcare, community services, industrial services and information technology sectors.
The company settled the acquisition of IT recruitment groups eCareer Employment Services and Illuminate Search and Consulting in January. It followed this with Melbourne-based SwingShift Nurses in March and industrial recruitment group Techforce in June.
In July, People Infrastructure settled the acquisition of Queensland’s Vision Surveys, growing its exposure to the infrastructure and construction sectors.
Acquisitions have helped grow People Infrastructure’s revenue base, maintaining earnings momentum. Group revenue was up almost 20 per cent in FY21 while net profit rose more than 8 per cent. Revenue has more than doubled over the past three years, largely through acquisitions.
In the latest year, the company gives credit to organic growth for much of the increase, noting that the employment market in the information technology sector was particularly strong in the second half of the year.
43. AnteoTech (ADO)
Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences
2020 rank: N/A
Market Cap: $385m
FY21 revenue: $2.42m
FY21 loss: $6.2m
CEO: Derek Thomson
CEO salary: $437,917
Medical diagnosis technology company AnteoTech (ASX: ADO) made its presence felt on the ASX in February when its shares spiked 70 per cent over after its customer Ellume struck a $304 million contract for its COVID-19 tests in the US.
At an AGM in November, AnteoTech chair Dr Jack Hamilton said Ellume’s success in achieving US Food and Drug Administration accreditation and securing a major US Department of Defence contract were a validation of the company’s AnteoBind technology in the world’s largest single market for point of care testing.
“The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has also grown to become a major customer of AnteoBind applying it in the quality control processes involved in vaccine production,” Dr Hamilton went on to tell the AGM.
“We also achieved our first sales of services in assisting clients in solving difficult assay challenges with the link of both capability recognition and pulling through AnteoBind for future sales.”
But AnteoBind raw material sales are just one part of the AnteoTech business model, which has accelerated a strategy of “moving up the value chain” to be an assay developer in its own right.
In early April the group received Conformité Européenne (CE) Mark registration for its own rapid antigen test (RAT), followed by a heavily oversubscribed capital raise that brought $20 million into the company’s coffers.
“CE approval was granted in April. In parallel, the team also successfully achieved, over an intense eight months, conducted via virtual meetings, the demanding task of technical manufacture transfer to our manufacturing partner, Operon, located in Spain,” Dr Hamilton said.
“The funds are being deployed to build our capability, establish our own manufacturing facility in Brisbane and support the rollout of the EuGeni platform.”
By September AnteoTech had signed distribution agreements with partners for its EuGeni reader platform in 14 countries including the UK, Romania, Greece, Turkey and the Philippines. In the current financial year key focus areas for AnteoTech include getting the EuGeni reader approved in Australia and the US.
But AnteoTech, formerly known as Anteo Diagnostics until late 2019, is no one-trick pony. The company is also leveraging its intellectual property in a bid to solve the silicon challenge in enhancing the energy performance of Lithium-ion batteries.
“As flagged in my address last year, we have been focused on building interest around AnteoX, our cross-linking additive,” Dr Hamilton said at the AGM.
“We have had AnteoX in evaluation with several collaborators to both raise the profile of AnteoX and AnteoTech but more importantly gather market intelligence on how it best fits and can be modified to better position it into the market needs of battery manufacturers and suppliers.
“Collaborator 8, a large multi-national North Asia Speciality Chemical company verified the electrochemical uplift that AnteoX, as a binder component, provides in high silicon content anode designs, reporting a performance gain in line with our internal results which showed an uplift between 15-26 per cent.”
At the same time, discussions have progressed with a major European silicon manufacturer with introductions to its networking including automotive producers, which along with guidance from AnteoTech’s newly formed Energy Advisory Board gives Hamilton “confidence that the Energy team is on the right track to commercialise AnteoX”.
44. Intega Group (ITG)
2020 rank: 48
Market Cap: $374m
FY21 revenue: $398.15m
FY21 profit: $5.08m
CEO: Matt Courtney
CEO salary: $695,573
After only two previous appearances in the Brisbane Top Companies list, this may be the last for engineering services company Intega Group (ASX: ITG) following a $421 million takeover bid from Dutch engineering certification company Kiwa.
The takeover, pitched at 90c per share, followed a strategic review by Intega earlier this year which was triggered by rising interest in the engineering services sector internationally.
Intega listed on the ASX in FY20 following the company’s demerger from fellow Brisbane-based professional services company Cardno (ASX: CDD) in 2019. Cardno is itself undergoing a shedding of operations following inquiries from potential purchasers around the world looking to buy some of its business divisions.
The Intega review was prompted by a perennial issue for some companies on the ASX – a poor share price performance in comparison to the financials.
With the support of Intega’s largest shareholder, Crescent Capital Partners, the company has recommended shareholders accept the offer from Kiwa. Intega shares were trading at less than 60c prior to the takeover announcement.
Intega has operations in Australia and the Americas comprising four key businesses - Construction Sciences, T2 Utility Engineers, Raba Kistner and PPI Quality and Engineering.
The company secured two acquisitions in the US in FY21 through its Raba Kistner subsidiary, namely an environmental company specialising in storm-water management and a project management company.
In Australia, Intega is one of the country’s largest construction materials testing companies.
While the takeover by Kiwa is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval, the deal will give the Dutch giant greater exposure to the Americas and Australia. Kiwa, which provides certification, inspection, testing, training and consultancy services, employs more than 5,500 people in 35 countries, mainly in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Intega Group shareholders are due to vote on the Kiwa buyout scheme in December.
45. Garda Property Group (GDF)
2020 rank: 36
Market Cap: $351m
FY21 revenue: $85.87m
FY21 profit: $35.59m
Executive Chairman: Matthew Madsen
CEO salary: $1.24m
An industrial asset-focused strategy has meant good things for Garda Property Fund (ASX: GDF) this year.
Six years since its IPO as Garda Diversified Property Fund, the value of the group’s investment portfolio more than trebled to $496 million by the end of June. By October, it rose to $558.9 million.
At the end of FY21, almost half of Garda’s investment portfolio by value comprised industrial property, up from just 6 per cent when it listed.
Industrial assets have been the star performers of the property sector over the past year, driven by high demand from logistics providers.
Lower yields in industrial property have led to higher valuations and this is reflected in an 18.9 per cent increase in the value of Garda’s group portfolio.
Most of the company’s industrial assets are located in Brisbane’s south-west corridor, in addition to North Lakes on the city’s northern fringe.
Garda also has three office buildings in fringe CBD locations in Melbourne and owns the premier office building in Cairns, the Cairns Corporate Tower.
Industrial assets were acquisition targets in FY21, with Garda securing three properties in Brisbane totalling $30 million. This included an industrial development site in North Lakes for $16 million which has been independently valued at $20 million.
The deals were partly funded through the $19.6 million disposal of non-core assets at Lytton in Brisbane and Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast.
Garda is making the most of the industrial boom with a development pipeline of $410 million planned for the industrial sector.
46. Aeris Resources (AIS)
2020 rank: 46
Market Cap: $337m
FY21 revenue: $431.29m
FY21 profit: $61.24m
Executive Chairman: Andre Labuschagne
CEO salary: $1.52m
Australian copper-gold producer Aeris Resources (ASX: AIS) has made clear its plans to grow through acquisitions.
However, the company was gun shy earlier this year when a news report revealed its interest in potentially bidding for Glencore Plc’s (LSE: GLEN) Cobar copper mine in NSW.
It was clear from a statement to the ASX responding to the media speculation that Aeris had run the ruler over the asset, eager to build on its 2020 acquisition of the Cracow gold mine in southern Queensland from Evolution Mining (ASX: EVN). Whether a deal eventuates is another matter as copper-focused base and precious metals miner 29Metals (ASX: 29M) was also rumoured to be looking at the assets.
Aeris Resources, which now has projects in NSW, Queensland and South Australia, describes FY21 as a transformational year for the company which included discovery of the Constellation deposit at its Tritton copper operations in NSW.
The company, which was formerly known as Straits Resources, says its Cracow operation has achieved production and cost targets, with Aeris now working on extending the mine’s life.
The company has locked in the higher gold price for the next year through a hedging facility with ANZ Banking Group (ASX: ANZ). The agreement secures 21,000 ounces of gold at a forward price of $2,538.54 per ounce between November this year and October next year.
This represents about 30 per cent of the targeted production from Cracow over the next 12 months. Aeris also has a copper hedging agreement with Macquarie Bank after the price of the metal pulled back from recent highs in October.
After bouncing back from a $38.35 million loss in FY20 to post a $61.24 million profit last financial year, Aeris was left with a healthy cash balance of $97 million at the end of FY21.
47. Navigator Global Investments (NGI)
2020 rank: 34
Market Cap: $331m
FY21 revenue: US$107.96m
FY21 profit: US$26.75m
CEO: Sean McGould
CEO salary: US$1.44m
Navigator Global Investments (ASX: NGI) is the listed Australian holding company for US-based hedge fund Lighthouse Investment Partners and last year it seized on an opportunity to grow by sealing its largest ever acquisition.
This comprised a $235 million investment in passive minority stakes of six boutique alternative asset managers, acquired from Dyal Capital Partners.
The deal, which settled in February, effectively saw Dyal take a 19.99 per cent stake in Navigator. Along with the issue of convertible notes as part of the deal, Dyal has a 40 per cent interest in the Brisbane-based company.
Navigator plans to acquire the remaining 30 per cent interest in the minority interest investments after the end of the 2025 calendar year.
The acquisition gave Navigator entitlement to the first $17 million of cash distributions annually from the Dyal funds, with the distribution indexed at 3 per cent a year.
Navigator says the transaction has created an ongoing partnership with Dyal Capital Partners which has the potential to broaden Navigator’s access to a variety of future accretive, organic and inorganic growth opportunities.
Dyal Capital Partners is an alternative investment manager with more than $23 billion of committed capital.
Navigator says the transaction also broadens its shareholder base, which it hopes will improve the long-term liquidity of its shares.
The company’s interests in the boutique funds have been bundled under a new banner, NGI Strategic Holdings. The Dyal funds in the portfolio consist of Waterfall Asset Management, Capstone, Bardin Hill Investment Partners, Pinnacle Asset Management and MKP Capital Management, all in the US, and CFM in France.
Navigator says it currently has an active pipeline of new potential strategic investment and acquisition opportunities, while the Lighthouse business is also "well positioned for growth across multiple products and continues to invest in additional product innovation".
By the end of September, Navigator had US$21.5 billion ($29.8 billion) in assets under management.
48. Over The Wire Holdings (OTW)
Software & Services
2020 rank: 38
Market Cap: $319m
FY21 revenue: $112.68m
FY21 profit: $3.43m
CEO: Michael Omeros
CEO salary: $455,890
A takeover is in the wings for Over The Wire Holdings (ASX: OTW) as Aussie Broadband (ASX: ABB) mulls over a decision after conducting due diligence in November.
Over the Wire is a telco provider that services business customers across Australia with voice, data, hosting and security services.
It’s seen as a perfect fit for Aussie Broadband to expand its footprint with Over The Wire itself taking advantage of a number of small-scale acquisitions in FY21. Among these are J2 Australia Cloud Connect, Zintel Communications and Digital Sense Hosting.
Aussie Broadband is offering $5.75 for Over The Wire, valuing the company at $342.6 million. Aussie is understood to have been eyeing Over The Wire for some time and its ambitions were bolstered by a $114 million capital raising in September.
Over The Wire shares reached all-time highs following the announcement of a potential takeover.
It comes as the company saw some significant changes to its senior leadership this year. The most recent was the resignation of Scott Smith in September as CEO of Over The Wire Holdings. This was a senior operations role where Smith reported to group CEO and co-founder Michael Omeros.
The company currently has no plans to replace Smith who was the second-highest paid executive at Over The Wire behind Omeros.
Smith’s resignation followed the retirement earlier this year of chairman John Puttick, who was replaced by seasoned broadband company executive Stephe Wilks. Puttick was chairman for five years.
Wilks is also currently chairman of 1ST Group (ASX: 1ST), a healthcare and corporate online search engine for health services.
49. ImpediMed (IPD)
Health Care Equipment & Services
2020 rank: 43
Market Cap: $302m
FY21 revenue: $8.41m
FY21 loss: $20.7m
CEO: Richard Carreon
CEO salary: $2.03m
ImpediMed (ASX: IPD) is making headway with its software-as-a-service business model which has managed to grow despite the ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic to the medical sector.
The company’s key platform is SOZO, a non-invasive bioimpedance spectroscopy device that helps assess in less than 30 seconds the fluid status and tissue composition of patients. This allows clinicians to monitor precisely the fluid levels of patients with various conditions to aid in improved health outcomes.
There are now more than 770 SOZO units deployed in the market globally, with most of the sales being made in the oncology sector.
However, in August ImpediMed was buoyed by news that SOZO had received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Breakthrough Device Designation for renal patients. This means SOZO’s bioimpedance spectroscopy platform will be used to provide an exact measure of fluid volume to remove from patients during a dialysis session.
ImpediMed saw annual recurring revenue from SOZO increase 67 per cent to $8.7 million in FY21 and the company is confident it will exceed $10 million in the current financial year. That was confirmed in the September quarter when revenue was up 71 per cent to $2.6 million.
Although the revenue performance is coming off a low base, ImpediMed estimates the combined market for oncology, heart failure and renal failure globally is worth $2 billion annually.
As with any innovative medical device, it takes clinicians to champion the cause to lift market adoption and there are some doing that now for ImpediMed.
To that end, the inaugural SOZO Heart Failure Program was established in September at Advocate Health Care’s Heart Institute in Chicago under the guidance of Dr Ali Valika, an interventional cardiology specialist. The aim is to optimise fluid levels in heart failure patients both in clinic and after discharge.
ImpediMed this year also announced the completion of its PREVENT trial, which the company describes as a seminal study that is the largest randomised controlled trial to be conducted on patients at risk of lymphoedema.
Among the conclusions reached by the study are that bioimpedance spectroscopy screening should become a standard approach for prospective breast cancer-related lymphoedema surveillance. ImpediMed is confident the study paper will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Scott Ward who had been a non-executive director of the company since 2013 and the ImediMed chairman for the past four years, retired from the position at the company’s AGM in November. He was replaced by existing board member Donald Williams.
50. Stanmore Resources (SMR)
2020 rank: 40
Market Cap: $281m
1H21 revenue (operates on calendar year): $93.7m
1H21 loss (operates on calendar year): $15.45m
CEO: Marcelo Matos
CEO salary: $530,000 plus incentives
Stanmore Resources can justly claim 2021 as a year of progress with the company laying the groundwork for a future beyond coal mining.
The new direction is reflected in this year’s name change from Stanmore Coal to Stanmore Resources. However, that doesn’t mean Stanmore is eschewing its coal business.
That was clear when Stanmore revealed in November plans to acquire BHP’s (ASX: BHP) 80 per cent interest in the BHP Mitsui Coal joint venture in central Queensland.
The US$1.2 billion ($1.68 billion) deal will make Stanmore one of the leading metallurgical coal producers globally, providing the company with a portfolio of tier-one assets. It also significantly increases its reserves and provides a resources base and assets that offer an expected mine life of more than 25 years.
CEO Marcelo Matos describes the acquisition as ‘transformative’ for Stanmore as the joint venture delivered BHP an EBITDA contribution of US$174 million ($244 million) on its 80 per cent share for the 12 months to 30 September 2021.
Overall, the announcement caps off a solid year for the Stanmore share price which benefitted from stronger coal prices in the latter half of the year.
Earlier this year, Stanmore was lamenting how lower coal prices and the trade stoush with China had affected its bottom line for the December half year in 2020.
In the September quarter this year, the company had recorded the highest quarterly coal sales by volume and value since the March 2019 quarter.
The company also secured approvals for its Isaac Downs Project in the Bowen Basin, with the mining leases granted and the first coal shipments made of trial cargoes from the bulk sample pit.
Meanwhile, Stanmore is making a start to looking at life beyond coal by exploring diversified mining and renewable energy opportunities. The company is establishing Stanmore Green to pursue other diversification opportunities in the renewable energy space that can offer synergies with its existing operations.
In June this year, Stanmore announced a memorandum of understanding with Blue Energy (ASX: BLU) to supply hydrogen from its future pilot production activities at the ATP 814 tenement in the Bowen Basin. Blue Energy is investigating the potential of converting pre-development gas production from pilot gas well operations to hydrogen so that it can potentially fuel Stanmore’s Isaac Plains equipment fleet. This pilot gas would otherwise be flared by Stanmore.
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Market caps based on end of trading November 29, 2021
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