The Secret Broker: Don’t wait for the music to stop
The Secret Broker
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After 35 years of stockbroking for some of the biggest houses and investors in Australia and the UK, the Secret Broker is regaling Stockhead readers with his colourful war stories — from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.
I got word last week that an old friend of mine had passed away, taken by the big ‘C’ (Cancer not COVID) and it brought up past memories of some of the deals that we did together.
When I was wearing my broker hat, he would come to my office with various projects and I would kick them around a bit, take the best ones and then vend them into an ASX shell.
In those dot-com days, he was like a fountain of deals for me and one day he arrived at my office with a particular company that had all the right elements.
The chairman was one of the founders of a then stock market darling (think AfterPay (ASX:APT), but in Jan 2000) whose ASX IPO price was now 10 times higher after six months, and had a project that could potentially produce more blue sky than the very longest of Norwegian summer days.
Right time. Right company. Game on!
As I had the right shell ready to go, we vended them in at 2c a share, then raised them some money when they hit 10c and then we all watched in awe as they carried on upwards to reach 48c. All within three months. That’s how crazy those times were.
This raising was particularly memorable for me, not for the fact that the next day the stock closed at 18c but the fact that it was all put to bed whilst lunching and in between waiters bringing over unlimited dishes and forever filling our wine glasses.
I had learnt over time how to juggle chopsticks, be constantly on the phone and yet somehow never miss a mouthful from every dish whizzing round on the Lazy Susan and, if I do say so myself, with all the grace and skill of a seasoned Cirque du Soleil performer.
Food, finance and ‘flied’ rice in a harmonious togetherness.
I managed to not only raise them their $1m at 10c, using just a pen and a cloth napkin as my placement ledger but I also managed to earn myself a 45 per cent cut of the 5 per cent placement fee.
Then, at some point between the crispy duck pancakes and the king sized honey prawns, the placement became oversubscribed and one client whom I didn’t much care for, promptly had a line drawn through his name and his pencilled in allocation was struck out and a much more loved client was added to the list, taking a firm placement of $100,000 at 10c.
This act of biro line financial engineering made one of my fellow (first time) lunchees, who had been witnessing my chopstick and phone circus act in full action, spit out his mouthful of wine over one of the hovering waiters.
Even after this act, his $10,000 allocation remained firm with all the other non-crossed out names and he still dines out on this story today.
Lunch $580. Fee to firm $50,000. My cut $22,500. Happy days.
At the time it just seemed like a normal day in my life as a broker but now writing about it, it makes me shudder.
For bringing the deal to the table, my old friend was allocated 700,000 shares at 2c and being the loyal chap he was, he never sold a share and watched them go from 2c to 48c, back down to 2c and then disappear forever into a full-on Norwegian delisted winter.
In fact, they probably buried him, still holding his certificate. That’s how much of a loyal chap he was.
He always said to me that he considered this broking lark to be made up by a bunch of suits, playing pass the share parcel, whilst talking BS to each other on their mobiles and watching and waiting to see which client mug got left holding the parcel, once the music stopped.
The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips and ideas.