Pinetree Capital will undergo a change of control

A company that I used to write about in the past, Pinetree Capital (TSX: PNP), will finally be undergoing a change of control.

I own a small portion of their senior secured debentures (TSX: PNP.DB). This holding was much larger earlier in 2015, but they were mostly liquidated through redemptions throughout 2015. By virtue of the last redemption (which was partially paid out in equity) I also own a small amount of equity in Pinetree Capital that I have not bothered to selling yet as they were trading below my opinion of fair value.

I anticipated that the final liquidation of the public entity would be in the form of a constructive sale of its sizable ($500 million+) capital losses. Instead, it comes in the form of a rights offering. I’m not sure what the formal terminology of this is, but I would call it a passive takeover.

Pinetree will issue rights that are exercisable at 2.5 cents per share (which is about a penny, or nearly 1/3rd, below their existing market price). If no more than 40% of these rights are exercised, then a numbered corporation entity controlled by Peter Tolnai will exercise the remaining unexercised rights and take control of approximately 30-49.9% of the company. Tolnai also receives $250,000 for his efforts (probably paying for a lot of legal and advisory fees to structure the rights offering) (Update: Only $250k received if there was a superior offer, see the comments below).

Considering only 22 million shares (of approximately-then 200 million shares outstanding) were voted in their last annual general meeting, it would be a reasonable bet that investor appetite to purchase further shares in Pinetree will be most certainly less than 40% of the existing shareholders. A 30% stake in the company is akin to effective control. I have some fairly good guesses why Tolnai would not want more than 50% ownership of the company.

The rights will be traded on the TSX, but my analysis would determine the price would trade at bid/ask $0.005/$0.01 assuming the common shares are trading at bid/ask $0.03/$0.035. As a result, the rights would not be easy to liquidate after transaction charges and would probably remain relatively illiquid.

Peter Tolnai, judging by his website, feels like somebody I could relate to personally. My guess is that he is taking a strong minority stake in the company for the purposes of obtaining a functional, inexpensive, and public entity to raise capital and utilizing the rich reserves of capital losses to grow capital tax-free. I would deeply suspect he has a team in mind and will be raising capital after the April 22, 2016 special meeting that will authorize a (much needed) 100:1 reverse split.

The net proceeds of the rights offering is to pay off the senior secured debentures, which mature on May 31, 2016. The amount outstanding on the debentures is not huge – $6.7 million principal plus six months’ interest (another $335,000). However, Pinetree has disclosed in its filings that if it is unable to raise money with these rights, they would have to liquidate its remaining privately held investments, implying it does not have anything liquid anymore.

Considering Pinetree Capital has not released any financial information since the end of their September 30, 2015 quarter, it remains to be seen what their current balance sheet situation looks like on the asset column. I’m guessing they sold off all of their liquid publicly traded securities in 2015 (the largest of which was PTK Technologies). Pinetree must release their audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2015 by the end of March.

Shareholders as of March 23, 2016 will receive the rights to buy at 2.5 cents per share (which means March 18, 2016 is the last day to purchase common shares if you wish to receive rights), but somehow I don’t think the market will be bidding up Pinetree common shares.

This leaves the last question of the valuation of the final entity, assuming the rights are exercised in full. With the senior secured debentures paid off, there is likely a non-zero value in the company, but a better snapshot can be obtained after the release of the year-end 2015 statements. Another question will be how Peter Tolnai’s team will plan on making capital gains and utilizing the huge tax assets left in Pinetree, but considering he will likely have a 30-49.9% stake in the company, his incentives are well geared towards the passive shareholder base.

Utilizing Pinetree’s capital losses is actually a problem that I would like to help him solve, to quote a line from his “Giving Back” section on his biography, if I was so privileged!

5 thoughts on “Pinetree Capital will undergo a change of control”

  1. After providing so much entertainment value for so long, this ending (or, perhaps more properly, new beginning) is much better than a boring-old take out. Peter Tolnai seems to have a reasonable pedigree for doing something value-adding with the financial wreckage left behind by Sheldon and his crew of capital destroyers. Pinetree is definitely back on my watch list. Thanks for your contributions to telling this story over the past couple of years.

    P.S. passive takeover seems a bit too, well, passive for an official name. I vote to call it an “Inwentash Redress”

  2. The $250k payment to Tolnai is a big chunk of change though. I’m not sure if that was a wise move. They really, really need to keep their overhead down when the company is so small. I should do some more digging here.

  3. Hi Dan,

    “Pinetree will pay a standby fee of $250,000 in cash to the Standby Purchaser on closing of the rights offering out of the proceeds of the rights offering, on the termination of the Standby Commitment by Pinetree if it accepts a “superior offer” or under other circumstances where the Standby Purchaser terminates the Standby Commitment, including if the minimum Standby Commitment is not met or the requisite shareholder consent is not received.”

    Re-reading this, I see that you are correct. I guess my brain automatically inserted an “or” before the “on the termination” clause. Thank you.

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