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Real-Time news about Cashbox (London Stock Exchange): 0 recent articles
|the atm kid: This article in todays Sunday Times even mentions the flash cars as I did a few weeks ago. When it all goes under I'll put a small offer in for it - the wife could have it ! He's obviously completely skint as he's mortgaged up to the hilt according to this article.
From The Sunday TimesFebruary 25, 2007
Cashbox and a strange case of business suicide
Ben Laurance reports on a web of deceit that has left 'the world's leading cash machine supplier' in turmoil
CARL THOMAS's mistake was to place a modest order for business cards.
The date was May 19, 2003, and Thomas was working as the £120,000-a-year corporate sales director of Hanco, a company providing stand-alone cash machines - automatic teller machines (ATMs) to give them their proper title.
But Thomas had ambitions of running his own company. So he secretly plotted to establish his own firm, Cashbox, that would place ATMs in pubs, clubs, off-licences and shops, charging customers £1.50 a time to withdraw cash on the spot rather than from a bank where they can do it free.
Now, almost four years later, Cashbox is up and running and quoted on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). But that fateful decision four years ago to order business cards has come back to haunt Thomas.
The High Court has ruled that it proved Thomas was planning to set up Cashbox and take a clutch of colleagues with him while he was still at Hanco and when he should still have been looking after Hanco's interests. His behaviour, according to the judgment, was "deceitful and wrong". Thomas and Cashbox's largest shareholder now face a claim from Hanco for £2m.
To add to his discomfort, Thomas, 42, has been suspended from his job as chief executive for indulging in a series of trades in the company's shares in the past two months. Without telling any of his fellow directors, he pocketed nearly £300,000 by selling part of his stake in the company - just as it was being lined up as a bid target.
Cashbox makes the immodest claim that it is "the world's leading cash machine supplier". Its board includes at least two big names - John Maples, a former Tory Treasury minister, and Robin Saunders, one-time queen of private equity - that should give it some weight.
But even by the standards of some of the racier companies on the lightly regulated AIM market, the saga of Cashbox is raising eyebrows.
At the heart of the legal dispute between Hanco and Cashbox is a contract with the off-licence chain Threshers.
By 2003, Hanco already had 100 cash machines installed in branches of Threshers. But Threshers was interested in having 500 more. Thomas was involved in negotiations for Hanco; but at the same time he was setting up his own business to try to clinch the Threshers contract.
A High Court judgment delivered last year said: "It is clear that from February and March 2003, Mr Thomas was investigating premises, consulting design consultants and registered the relevant domain name in respect of a proposed new business."
By May 2003 he was "taking advice as to the setting up of a company and as to procuring investment via an Enterprise Investment Scheme".
And that month Thomas gave details to a design company for business cards that were to bear the names of Hanco colleagues he intended to take with him to his new business.
It was this crucial piece of evidence that helped to persuade the High Court that Thomas had acted deceitfully.
In June 2003 Cashbox was formally incorporated. Thomas's wife, Catriona, became company secretary. His younger brother Matthew was also a founder. Thomas resigned from Hanco 10 days later.
Cashbox won the Threshers contract, and that became the bedrock on which the company grew. It clinched deals with Greene King, Scottish & Newcas-tle, Texaco and the convenience-store chain Nisa Today's.
But Hanco sued Thomas and Cashbox. It claimed an interim award of £2m damages for breach of contract and said, among other things, that Cashbox had been involved in "unlawful interference with Hanco's economic interests".
With the lawsuit under way, Hanco was taken over by Royal Bank of Scotland in 2004 for about £80m.
But the Hanco claim did not stop Cashbox from floating on AIM last spring with a market value of £12.2m. The company boasted that by the end of 2005 it had 845 machines installed. A further 596 were "anticipated" and there were 5,510 "potential further ATM installations".
The placing document stretched to 66 pages. And on page 64, it gave an outline of the action being brought by Hanco.
Thomas and Cashbox chairman Anthony Sharp - the biggest investor in Cashbox - together gave an indemnity. They said that they would foot the bill if Cashbox were found liable in the Hanco case. And the placing document said it was planned that the two men's indemnity would be replaced by a new indemnity, this time from an offshore company, KKR Investment Management, in which Sharp was a shareholder, with a maximum liability of £1.5m.
The City liked the look of Cashbox. The shares were placed at 20p, and within a month had jumped to 35p.
Last summer the company announced it had installed its 1,000th ATM and won a new contract with Wiltshire brewer Wadworth to place machines in its managed pubs.
The Hanco litigation was forgotten. All seemed set fair. Cashbox was winning new work and visitors to its head office in Hook, Hampshire, were treated to the sight of a line of flashy cars outside, suggesting life was treating executives well.
But the first sign of trouble emerged last September. Analysts were primed to expect results on September 25; but the night before, word came from Cashbox that publication of the results - the first since Cashbox's AIM debut - had to be delayed.
According to one well-placed source, the hold-up was because of problems identified by the auditors, BDO Stoy Hayward. The auditors declined to comment.
On the afternoon of the 25th, Cashbox said the results would come out four days later. When they appeared, the figures showed a loss for the year to June of £3.5m on sales of £3.2m. Despite optimistic noises from Sharp - "our business, at least, is in a rapid-growth mode," he said - the shares fell by a third.
The Hanco court hearing had already come and gone, but no public mention was made of it. And in November judgment in the case was handed down.
For Thomas and Cashbox it made uncomfortable reading. Regarding the Threshers deal, the judgment said: "Any ordinary person would regard it as deceitful to go behind one's employer's back to bid for the same contract that one was employed to procure for the employer. Likewise, as regards Cashbox, any ordinary person would regard it as obviously wrong and dishonest to assist in such a process."
Thomas's behaviour had been "simply dishonest".
Some of Thomas's evidence was "wholly incredible and completely implausible". The judgment went on: "It is the plainest evidence that Mr Thomas and, by him, Cashbox knew that what they had done was deceitful and wrong."
Shareholders in Cashbox were told nothing of the judgment, although Hanco was asking for an interim award of £2m plus costs that could approach £1m - no small sum for a company of Cashbox's size. Company chairman Anthony Sharp said the decision to make no announcement last November was on the advice of Cashbox's adviser Seymour Pierce.
Only after the case was mentioned in a newspaper report ear-lier this month did Cashbox acknowledge the judgment and say it would be appealing. Last week Cashbox was refused leave to appeal, though it can still ask a judge for the right to make a further challenge.
Cashbox also admitted that the hoped-for indemnity from KKR Investment Management, referred to in the placing document 11 months ago, had not been secured.
Sharp predicted last week that even if Thomas and Cashbox lost the case, damages would run only to hundreds of thousands of pounds rather than millions.
He accused Hanco and its parent RBS of hounding Cashbox through the courts. "I think that they are rather tired of us," he said. "Because Cashbox is winning business that Hanco wants."
Then there is the case of Carl Thomas's share dealings.
Three weeks ago, following a rise in the company's share price, Cashbox said it had "received expressions of interest" from potential bidders.
Ten days later it said that Thomas had been suspended as a director after it emerged he had been trading his own shares in Cashbox over the previous five weeks.
In a number of instances he had bought and sold shares on the same day; and some sales followed the announcement of bid interest. The dealings netted him nearly £300,000.
Cashbox's board members had hoped to extract an explanation from Thomas at a meeting early last week. No announcement has been made and Thomas has not returned phone calls from The Sunday Times.
Sharp said: "We have to try to figure out what the man was thinking. He knew the rules. It is business suicide. He says he was short of cash. He had spent the money before he had got it." Cashbox's lawers have now received a statement from Thomas, Sharp added.
Land Registry records show that in May last year, Thomas and his wife owed nearly £350,000 on their house. A further loan of £150,000 was taken out. They had bought the house for £365,000 in 2000.
Sharp said it was the stockbroker Seymour Pierce that alerted him to Thomas's share dealings. The decision to suspend Thomas was taken at a board meeting held by conference call. Thomas was asked his reasons for selling shares, "and he didn't have a clear answer".
Sharp will not say exactly when it became clear to him - or to other directors including Thomas - that there might be bids in the offing. The announcement of takeover interest was made as soon as possible, he said.
Seymour Pierce declined to comment. RBS said that it could not comment while litigation continued.|
Charts are fine, but Cashbox locations are totally different to Paypoint and the PE/valuation of Cashpoint reflects this in the share price.
If you are considering sector like for like then this could suggest a higher PE for Cashbox and a higher share price, hence the heady rise when interest is shown in a buy out.|
Cashbox share price data is direct from the London Stock Exchange