Few people are at their desks in the week between Christmas and new year, which means it’s a prime dumping period for companies wanting to hide bad news.

But there’s always someone who draws the short straw in a newsroom and this year it was Stockhead’s editor Angela East, who decked the Perth office in tinsel and kept a watchful eye on the ASX.

She spied 12 announcements likely to ruffle feathers of investors.


Pacific Bauxite (ASX:PBX) – voluntary administration

This explorer called in voluntary administrators after a $991,535 rights issue, launched in September and extended five times, failed.

That combined with the failure to sell its bauxite deposits in the Solomon Islands “has left Pacific Bauxite in a very vulnerable position”, it said on Christmas eve.

Chairman Peter Lewis resigned from his directorships at the company’s Solomons joint venture partner Aurum Pacific Group and “will continue to work with the administrator for as long as required to try and preserve some value”.


IDT Australia (ASX:IDT) – termination of distribution agreement

The Australian pharmaceuticals manufacturer had to tell investors on Christmas eve that a distributor had stopped, effective immediately, selling one of its drugs in the US.

Mayne Pharma Group (ASX:MYX) killed a distribution agreement for generic drug temozolomide.

IDT said it was working out what it would do now and talking to other distributors. It hasn’t provided an update on those negotiations.

The original agreement in 2015 was for 10 years but subject to minimum order requirements.


AIC Mines (ASX:A1M) – legal dispute with Vulcan

In 2018 AIC sold an African subsidiary called Intrepid Mines Zambia to Vulcan Copper and Consolidated Mining, with the final paperwork coming through in February 2019.

But the miner is still waiting on payment.

“AIC has agreed to a number of extensions and variations to the payment terms,” it said on Christmas eve, with the most recent coming in November.

But Vulcan still hasn’t paid the first $1m installment of the deferred sum and none of the interest due in November.

AIC is now “considering remedial action”, although it won’t yet reveal what this might be.


Rectifier Technologies (ASX:RFT) – no extension to exclusivity agreement

Brisbane-based fast charger maker Tritium has decided not to extend an exclusivity period to sell Rectifier’s 35KW battery units.

The two companies signed a 24-month distribution contract in December 2018 with a 12-month exclusivity period that could be extended. Tritium has chosen not to extend.

Rectifier says it doesn’t expect the loss to have a negative impact on sales.


New Energy Minerals (ASX:NXE) – writ of summons

The former vanadium explorer has been served over debts allegedly owed by the company from a convertible note.

Cayman-based Arena Structured Private Investments is demanding payment of $5.11m — principal of $2.5m and a termination payment of $2.535m plus interest.

New Energy Minerals says a prior demand was set aside in the Supreme Court of Western Australia and it will defend the claim.

The project-less explorer has also launched a counterclaim against Arena, saying the latter’s breach of a convertible note debt as well as “unconscionable conduct and economic duress” is worth about $17.03m to it in penalties.


Suda Pharmaceuticals (ASX:SUD) – TGA’s reasons for denial of marketing approval for ArTiMist

In April 2019, Australia’s drug regulator denied Suda the right to market its malaria treatment ArTiMist, and during the Christmas break a review was published explaining why.

The main ingredient of ArTiMist is considered a monotherapy by the WHO, useful only in very early stages of treatment but with a very high risk of creating resistance to all compounds using that ingredient.

Suda was proposing to sell the treatment — which the TGA admitted had been proven to work well — alongside a series of conditions including how long it could be used and on whom, alongside education and information campaigns.

But the review found that the risk of misuse, or incorrect use, was too high.


TeamInvest Private Group (ASX:TIP) – investment goes into administration

Truck and bus parts company Whites Diesels Australia has gone into voluntary administration, taking with it $200,000 lent by TeamInvest.

The listed company is unsure whether it will see the money again.

It also doesn’t expect to see any future fees from two wholesale funds its private subsidiary manages that invested in Whites Diesels.

The ‘Warren Buffet-style value investor’ made $28m in revenue last year but a $1.6m loss.


Kula Gold (ASX:KGD) – suspended due to lack of operations

A flurry of announcements in 2019 did not add up to any substance and the ASX suspended Kula Gold after determining that its “operations are not adequate to warrant the continued quotation of its securities”.

Kula sold its share of the Woodlark Island gold project in July last year and said it was doing “project generation work targeting prospects in the Western Australian goldfields”.

The ASX did not agree that this was enough work to warrant a public listing.


Prairie Mining (ASX:PDZ) – losing Polish mine rights

The junior coal miner reported that the Polish government had awarded the rights to part of the company’s Jan Karski mine to a local company.

Prairie said a press release had been issued by Polish coal producer Lubelski Węgiel Bogdanka saying it had been awarded a mining concession by the Polish government for the K6-7 deposit.

According to Prairie, the K6-7 deposit is an “integral part” of its planned Jan Karski mine.


Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber Plantation (ASX:KPT) – bushfire damage

The company told the market on the first trading day of the new decade that on top of the original 891 hectares lost initially, it had now witnessed damage to a further 971 hectares of plantations, or 7 per cent of its landholding, which it estimated had an insured value of about $8.5m.

Kangaroo Island Plantation says it has fire insurance, which covers the standing tree crop and allows for miscellaneous costs, including a contribution towards direct fire-fighting, clean-up, and replanting, among other things.


Vitalharvest (ASX:VTH) – bushfire damage

Bushfires burning in southern NSW have impacted the Tumbarumba berry farm, which accounts for around 6 per cent of the company’s berry plantings.

The Victoria-based freehold trust owns one of the largest aggregations of berry and citrus farms in Australia, across NSW, South Australia and Tasmania.

It leases them to Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC).


Independence Group (ASX:IGO) – loses takeover

Independence Group has given up on its pursuit of smaller target Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN) after “a number” of defeating conditions were breached.

The $3.7 billion Independence told shareholders in between Christmas and new year that it planned to let its $312m off-market takeover bid for Panoramic lapse.

Independence launched the bid back in early November because it was keen on picking up Panoramic’s producing Savannah nickel mine in Western Australia’s East Kimberley region.

The offer was for one IGO share for every 13 PAN shares, or about 47.6c per PAN share.

This was a 51 per cent premium over the one-month volume weighted average price – the average price that the stock has traded over a month based on both volume and price.