• BlackRock takes substantial shareholder status at Qantas 
  • Venetia has two new substantial shareholders after an underwritten block trade last week
  • Challenger sells out of Super Retail Group as Super Cheap Auto reports strong sales of lubricants

Trading Places is Stockhead’s semi-regular, pretty damn fascinating recap of the latest red flag buying and selling of ASX stocks. It is here that the rubber really hits the road for fund managers, stakeholders, distant (and not-so-distant) relatives and other famous or infamous investors.

Specifically, Trading Places tracks substantial shareholder movements – namely when a trade in a company’s stock crosses or falls below the 5% threshold.

Substantial shareholders are usually directors, individual investors, institutional investors… or their distant (and not-so-distant) relatives, which they will refer to as listed related bodies corporate or something similar. You can see in detail these listed bodies on the company’s ASX announcement.

Shareholders are required to publicly declare via the exchange when their personal stake goes below or above 5%, and from there, every movement in their holdings while owning above 5%.

Those becoming and those ceasing to be substantial shareholders are the ones we think are worth noting, where a trade takes an investor over the 5% threshold or has them drop back below.

Here’s the form to get you started, if reading this makes you twitchy.

Recent Buys

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BlackRock flying with Qantas

BlackRock has again become a substantial holder of Australia’s embattled airline Qantas (ASX:QAN), with more than 89 million shares and a voting power of more than 5% on November 3 and sending its shares back up ~6% since.

BlackRock’s buy-up was just a couple of days before QAN’s fiery AGM, where shareholders let their opinion be known of the strife that has caused turbulence for much of 2023 for the airline with its share price down more than 11% YTD.

QAN has been found guilty of illegally sacking 1700 workers during the pandemic, leaving it with a massive compensation bill. It’s also been accused of offering “ghost flights” selling thousands of tickets for flights that had already been cancelled.

At the AGM, shareholders overwhelmingly rejected the company’s executive pay deal in a large protest vote.

Vanessa Hudson, who was set to take over as CEO from the AGM, was forced to take up role in September after long-time head Alan Joyce quit the post early. He reportedly received a hefty $24 million golden handshake retirement package.

Chairman Richard Goyder has flagged his intention to retire ahead of QAN’s 2024 AGM.

In October QAN posted a bullish quarterly update that forecast H1 FY23 underlying profit before tax of between $1.2 and $1.3 billion with the airline back at around pre-Covid-19 service levels in the first half of October.


Ventia gets new support after blocktrade

Ventia Services (ASX:VNT)  has two new substantial shareholders with JP Morgan & Chase and First Sentier both buying into the infrastructure services provider in Australia and New Zealand.

VNT has a workforce of more than 35,000 individuals, spread across ~400 locations throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The company serves diverse industry sectors including defence, social infrastructure, water, electricity, gas, resources, telecommunications, and transportation.

VNT last week informed the market of an underwritten block trade where CIMIC Group Investments No.3 Pty Ltd and AIF VIII Singapore Pte Ltd (Apollo) have sold more than 62 million and 36 million shares in the company.

VNT also recently announced a 12-month extension of its base services contract with the Department of Defence. Kicking off in July 2024, the extension is expected to deliver revenue of ~$550 million to the company.

The QAN & VNT share price today:


Recent Sells

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Challenger sells out of Super Retail

Challenger has ceased to be a substantial shareholder in Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL), perhaps taking some profit with the company’s shares up more than 15% in the past month and 24% YTD.

SUL, which owns Super Cheap Auto, Rebel, Macpac and BCF, delivered a strong year-to-date report at its recent AGM, building on another year of record sales for the company despite a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Managing director and CEO Anthony Heraghty told the AGM that in the first 16 weeks of FY24, the group has delivered sales growth of 4% and like-for-like sales growth of 2%, cycling 20% like-for-like sales growth in the prior comparative period.

Heraghty says growth has been driven from various factors including Supercheap auto customers liking their lubricants.

“Supercheap Auto’s performance has been driven by ongoing strength in the auto maintenance category, including higher lubricant sales following a successful best performing oils campaign,” he says.

“Rebel rCX and new regional stores continue to perform well and its flagship store in Emporium, Melbourne is on schedule to open prior to Christmas.”

Heraghty says accelerating sales growth in BCF has been supported by contribution from new stores and increased demand in boating, fishing and water sports.

“Macpac is cycling 76% like-for-like sales growth in the pcp,” he says.

“Sales in travel related categories (backpacks and luggage) are growing strongly, however unseasonably warm weather has affected sales of insulation and rainwear products.”


The SUL share price today: