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Shareholders upbeat despite little progress for 9 Spokes

Monday 29th July 2019

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Investors attending 9 Spokes International’s annual meeting were upbeat despite the company’s chair conceding 2019 had been the most demanding year so far for the tech-startup. 

The ASX-listed Shares of 9 Spokes were recently down at 2.6 Australian cents, having shed about 7.1 percent since trading opened today. The software firm’s shares debuted at 20 Australian cents at its initial public offering in 2016 when it raised A$25 million. 

Media were excluded from today’s meeting in Auckland and company chair Paul Reynolds said he did not have time to talk when approached afterwards. 

The handful of investors who showed up were positive about the company’s restructure, which Reynolds described as “painful.” They were also upbeat about ongoing discussions for a deal with a US bank. 

The company connects apps for small business owners to a single dashboard, through banks including the UK’s Barclays, Singapore’s OCBC and the BNZ locally. 

An investor who declined to be named said “if they said [the deal] is going to come through, then we have to trust, that’s why we invested.”

Another said the company had presented itself very well and that 9 Spokes had to be prudent and keep information about prospective deals to itself. 

The investor, who also declined to be named, said that New Zealand had an excellent track record when it came to start-ups such as Diligent, Xero and Pushpay, and he was attracted to the company as it had former Telecom boss Reynolds as chair. 

“I was surprised when I saw this skinny little thing on the ASX and realised it was a New Zealand company with an open banking license in the UK.” 

Reynolds' speech notes, published on the ASX, acknowledged that shareholders would be eager to see confirmation of entry into the US market, noting its collaboration agreement with Visa in March. 

“We also continue in discussion with a major US bank - this has been the biggest market development activity over the year, and I can confirm that talks continue to progress well and we hope to be able to confirm commitment in the near future,” the presentation said. 

The company’s accounts were tagged by PwC in March with the auditor saying 9 Spokes only had sufficient cash for the next 12 months after signing the statements. 

“In order to generate sufficient case for at least the next 12 months, the group will need to secure the deal with the North American bank and other smaller-scale customers, or raise additional capital,” the annual report said.  

The company raised A$5.3 million in May this year, issuing 330 million shares at 1.6 Australian cents apiece. 

Reynolds said the offer was “more protracted that we first expected” and added that shareholders had given a clear signal they wanted a faster path to profitability. The company has not indicated when it's likely to break even. 

9 Spokes reported a loss of NZ$9.3 million in the 12 months to March 2019, a 46 percent improvement on the year-earlier deficit. 

Revenue increased 22 percent to NZ$8.2 million, and the company slashed expenses by 30 percent, including the reducing staff numbers by 94 to 62. 

A board restructuring had been put on hold during the capital raise but would now resume, the chairman said. 

In July, the company said it had altered its agreement with Barclays bank, removing exclusivity provisions which hindered its progress with American banks. 

The company’s platform includes software by Xero, MYOB, Kounta, GeoOp, Dropbox and Shopify. 

(BusinessDesk)

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