Bubs Australia brings in Kidder Williams, seeking strategic advice

Kidder Williams, the high-profile Melbourne deal makers specialising in agribusiness and food, have been drafted in by the board of Bubs Australia as the company reworks its market strategy in a bid to save its share price.

There’s been plenty of instability at infant formula producer Bubs, with the departure of its former chairman, Dennis Lin, and chief executive, Kristy Carr, this year. Both Lin and Carr are part of a push to remove the current board, led by ex-King & Wood Mallesons partner Katrina Rathie.

New Bubs chairman Katrina Rathie. Louie Douvis

Bubs shares are down more 75 per cent over the past year, or 45¢, and last traded at 14¢.

The company is undertaking a strategic review, with a focus on its strategy in China. The view internally is that, under Lin and Carr, the company built up extensive unsold inventory due to arrangements made with its Chinese distribution partner, AZ Global.

David Williams, the managing director of boutique corporate advisory Kidder Williams, will take the lead advising Bubs.

Williams has dominated the agribusiness sector for 30-plus years, most recently being helping Pure Foods Tasmania kick-start growth. He was also on defence at Tassal last year before the salmon producer was acquired by Canada’s Cooke Aquaculture in a $1.7 billion deal.

Sour milk

The appointment comes after a period of turmoil at the infant formula company, which publicly kicked off in May after the removal of Carr as chief executive due to her failure to “comply with reasonable board directions”. Lin’s employment with Bubs also was terminated with immediate effect.

The sudden move represented a change in view by the board with Bub’s share price under significant pressure and the company’s key China business posting slower-than-expected sales.

Since then, Carr has begun leading a group of dissident investors who plan to spill the board and install a former a2 Milk executive, Peter Nathan, to lead the infant formula manufacturer. Bubs co-founder, Anthony Gualdi, and the company’s largest customer in China, AZ Global, are also involved in the push to roll the board. Their combined holdings tally just over 5 per cent, sufficient to call, earlier this month, for an extraordinary general meeting.

Rathie, in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, has already accused Bubs’ former management of placing “a lot of eggs in one basket” with AZ Global.

“They effectively gave control to AZ Global and its affiliates, despite the very strong stated concerns of the non-executive directors,” she said this month.


David Williams is working with Pure Foods Tasmania to boost its brand

David Williams managing director of Kidder Williams. David assisted Canadian company Cooke to buy Tassal and is now working with Pure Foods in Tasmania. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones
David Williams managing director of Kidder Williams. David assisted Canadian company Cooke to buy Tassal and is now working with Pure Foods in Tasmania. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones

A key player in the success of Tassal hopes to give another Tasmanian business a leg up to global success, and he says the salmon farmer’s story could help other businesses realise their full potential.

Pure Foods Tasmania owns several Tassie food brands including Woodbridge Smokehouse Daly Potato Co, The Cashew Creamery and Laud’s Plant Based Foods.

Pure Foods Tasmania managing director Michael Cooper said the company had been growing well organically.

“One of our factories is about to move to 24-hour production,” he said.

“It is easy to sell Tasmanian produce as it has that DNA of the purest and finest you can find.”

He said the company was looking at other acquisitions.

“We are always looking to grow both organic and through acquisition; we are currently working on a couple of opportunities and is why we engaged Kidder Williams to help execute a good acquisition,” Mr Cooper said.

Tassal's Tinderbox lease. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE.
Tassal’s Tinderbox lease. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE.

Kidder Williams managing director David Williams has been involved in the salmon industry for more than 20 years and more recently, he facilitated the deal between Tassal and Canadian company, Cooke Aquaculture.

“When it went into receivership 12 years ago, I decided to buy it … I knew a lot about the industry and I bought it for $42.5m,” Mr Williams said of Tassal.

“I laugh that I just bought it again for a second time in December (last year), for Cooke in Canada for $1.7bn.”

Mr Williams is now working with Pure Foods to help grow the company.

“I’ve got a philosophy that people have never made enough out of Tasmania,” Mr Williams said.

“You don’t need to look any further than what happened with Tassal.

“There’s plenty of other companies that should be based here and should diversify geographically and species-wise, I say that for the oyster industry and the mussel industry.”

Daly Potato Company is owned by Pure Foods Tasmania. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE.
Daly Potato Company is owned by Pure Foods Tasmania. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE.

Mr Williams said there were some problems holding Tasmania back.

“Historically, there’s two big problems with Tasmania … the state itself hasn’t done enough business development,” he said.

“The second thing is people need to use this as a base to grow … for example if you’re doing oysters and you’ve only got one site, you’re really high risk.

“That’s why Tassal went broke by the way, we had warm water coming down the East Coast and the fish weren’t feeding.”

Tassal salmon pens, in Macquarie Harbour, Strahan. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL
Tassal salmon pens, in Macquarie Harbour, Strahan. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL

He said creating farms in other regions helped Tassal become successful.

“If the water was warm, or if you had an algal bloom or if something else went wrong, you could take the fish from somewhere else and still be able to supply Coles and Woolies,” Mr Williams said.

“You need to be able to supply 365 days … you need protection over weather events, algae events, all sorts of diseases.”

Mr Williams said there were few companies in Tasmania that had reached a high level of success.

“I think down here, apart from Tassal and Huon, there isn’t anybody that’s really grown a massive business, but there’s the possibility to do it,” he said.

“If the story’s right for Pure Foods, I think we can make a nice little company out of this.”


Chinese attention is returning to Australian Agriculture investment, says David Williams

goFARM Australia managing director Liam Leneghan, Nuveen Natural Capital head of APAC and Africa Kristina Hermanson and Kidder Williams managing director David Williams at the forum. Picture: Arsineh Houspian
goFARM Australia managing director Liam Leneghan, Nuveen Natural Capital head of APAC and Africa Kristina Hermanson and Kidder Williams managing director David Williams at the forum. Picture: Arsineh Houspian

Chinese investors are taking an increasingly active look at Australian agricultural investments now that the Foreign Investment Review Board’s door has partly reopened to proposals from China, according to David Williams, director of advisory firm Kidder Williams.

Mr Williams told The Australian’s Global Food Forum this week that Chinese investors were back looking at assets in Australia, including agricultural investments, given a perceived change in stance from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

He said FIRB’s decision in January to allow one of China’s biggest textile manufacturers, Jinsheng Textiles, to buy Gundaline station, an irrigated cotton farm in the NSW Riverina, was seen as a sign of the political willingness to reopen the door to Chinese investors for some assets.

Global Food Forum
Australia's place at the table
Logo Picture: Supplied
Global Food Forum Australia’s place at the table Logo Picture: Supplied

“One of the bright spots (on the agricultural investment scene) is that the Chinese are back,” he told the forum. “They’re back because the Foreign Investment Review Board’s got the door slightly ajar, and we are going to see a fair bit more of that (like the Jinsheng cotton farm) in the next six months.

“There’s bit of it going on now.”

FIRB’s review process has opened up since the Covid pandemic, when all major foreign deals had to be referred to the review board.

Chinese investors were wary of investing in Australia under the Morrison government, due to political tensions.

An approach by China Mengniu Dairy to buy Lion’s dairy and drinks business in a $600m deal was blocked in August 2020 by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who said it was “contrary to the national interest”, despite reported approval by FIRB.

In January 2021, Frydenberg blocked a proposed $300m deal for the China State Construction Engineering Company to buy building contractor Probuild from its South African owners.

The improvement of political relations between Australia and China under the Albanese government has seen Chinese investors reconsidering Australia as a place to invest. Chinese officials have raised the treatment of investment proposals with Australian government officials in negotiations over repairing some trade relations. The Chinese government has removed some unofficial restrictions on Australian exports to China, including coal and timber.

The agricultural sector is also closely watching negotiations over tariffs imposed on Australian barley and wine which are currently under way.

There are hopes the tariffs could be lifted before Prime Minister Albanese’s expected visit to China in October this year.

Mr Williams said FIRB had come under criticism in the recent past because of the “lengthy” time taken to approve deals and the high costs involved.

But he said things had changed more recently.

He did not think Chinese investors would get approval to buy critical infrastructure such as ports, airports or power stations.

But he said that there were still restrictions on Chinese companies and individuals getting their money out of China, with much new interest coming through Hong Kong channels.

There is also keen interest in Australian agricultural investors from other foreign investors such as Canadian pension funds and US university endowment funds.

Minter Ellison executive director of international markets Paris Zhang told the forum that Chinese investors were “continually looking” at investments in the agricultural sector in Australia.

“Chinese consumers really like Australian food products for its premium quality, for being clean and green and environmentally friendly,” she said. “Therefore investors are continuously looking at opportunities in Australia in farming including cattle and dairy farms, cotton farms, and farms growing fruit and nuts as well as processors of dairy and cheese.”

She said they were looking for well established or premium brands.


Kidder Williams aims to turn Pure Foods into the next Tassal

Pure Foods Tasmania says it has aspirations to become as successful as Tassal, the last major locally listed aquaculture company until its sale to Canadian firm Cooke for $1.1 billion last year, as it eyes fresh acquisitions in a bid to grow tenfold.

The company’s chief executive, Michael Cooper, said the group aims to reach $100 million in annual revenue, a step-up from the $10 million it is now generating.

Pure Foods Tasmania CEO Michael Cooper (left) and investment banker David Williams, MD of Kidder Williams. 

“We’re not going to get there through organic growth,” Mr Cooper said, adding Tasmanian Pure Foods was closely assessing a buyout.

“We’ve got one on the radar now, we’re doing due diligence,” he said.

Mr Cooper said the company may seek to jump from its purely Tasmanian roots to the mainland in future acquisitions.

“If we exhaust all Tasmanian opportunities we definitely would,” he said.

Sales have been climbing sharply after the group’s tubs of Daly Potatoes & Gravy were stocked in Coles supermarkets in Victoria and Tasmania in March, and in Woolworths in Queensland and Tasmania in April.

“It’s blown our doors off with our volumes,” he said.“Considering the economy at the moment, it’s perfect timing”.

The company has appointed investment bank Kidder Williams to guide its expansion plans. Kidder Williams managing director David Williams said bigger scale was important for Pure Foods Tasmania, which aims to be on the front foot in consolidation.

“Down here, there’s plenty of room for scale,” he said. The company was in the sweet spot in its categories with its gourmet range and strong links to the local supply chain.

“One of the megatrends that people overlook is provenance,” Mr Williams added.

Mr Williams led a syndicate two decades ago which acquired the Tassal salmon business when the company went into receivership owing money to ANZ. It was subsequently floated on the ASX. In 2022, he was an adviser to Cooke in its purchase of Tassal.

Pure Foods Tasmania’s share price has been struggling, falling 2 per cent, or 0.3c on Monday to close at 13c. Shares have fallen 56 per cent in 12 months.

A former Tassal executive, Phil Excell, has been hired as the company’s new chief financial officer.

Mr Cooper said there may be some rationalisation of the businesses in the Pure Foods Tasmania portfolio as the growth plans are stepped up.

“You can’t be all things to everyone,” he said.

Exports constitute about 20 per cent of the total sales, with Hong Kong an important market for its vegan ice-cream made with a cashew base, that is gluten and dairy-free.

The company also operates the Woodbridge Smokehouse salmon business, Tasmanian Pate and Lauds plant-based foods.

Mr Cooper said inflation in input costs appeared to have passed its high point.

“I think we are definitely passed the peak,” he said.

But transport costs were still high and a shortage of truck drivers was adding to the headaches in logistics caused by the collapse of the Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics business.

Mr Cooper said the Pure Foods Tasmania ranges covered the premium end, the middle ground and the value end and would be able to withstand a tightening of spending by consumers.

He said a new product under the Daly Potato Co. brand of vegetables in a meal tray was being rolled out in IGA supermarkets and had been well received by shoppers looking for value, in its early days on the market.


PolyNovo set to re-enter ASX 200 after record year; Macquarie reveals its predictions on other big index movements

PolyNovo chairman David Williams says ‘surgeons worldwide are heralding the technology as not only life saving but changing the way surgery is done’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly
PolyNovo chairman David Williams says ‘surgeons worldwide are heralding the technology as not only life saving but changing the way surgery is done’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly

Skin graft-focused biotech PolyNovo is poised to re-enter the ASX 200 in March, with Macquarie analysts expecting $67m worth of shares to change hands as it reclaims its spot in the benchmark index.

The company, chaired by boutique investment banker David Williams, was removed from the index of Australia’s 200 biggest listed companies last year after its shares sunk as low as 85c in May.

At the time, short-sellers had targeted 11.5 per cent of PolyNovo’s stock, and following its exit from the ASX 200 lost the support of index-based funds.

But in the past six months the company’s shares have rebounded more than 45 per cent to $2.39, giving it a market value of $1.64bn. It has capped off record half-year sales, delivering revenue exceeding $5m a month for the first time, as it builds momentum in the US and expands into new markets, with short-sellers now targeting 2.5 per cent of its stock.

Macquarie analysts named PolyNovo as one of the “standout” stocks set to re-enter the ASX 200 this year. It is predicting five changes to the benchmark index, with Syrah Resources, Omni Bridgeway, NRW Holdings and Ioneer also on track for addition.

Meanwhile, Macquarie expects SmartGroup, Novonix, Ramelius Resources and Domain Holdings to lose their spots as a result of the ASX 200’s rebalancing.

Macquarie estimates there will be about $67m, or 26.4 million shares, of incremental demand from index funds due to PolyNovo’s re-entry to the ASX 200 — the equivalent of about 10 days of daily trading.

From last May, Mr Williams has been on a spending spree, buying almost $7m worth of PolyNovo shares, saying he “had enough” of the short-sellers and the “dampening effect” of index funds leaving the company following its exit from the ASX 200.

“The company’s recent growth in US sales but also sales in Canada, HK, UK, and Australia has been a very impressive 67 per cent increase half on half,” he said.

“Surgeons worldwide are heralding the technology as not only life saving but changing the way surgery is done.”

PolyNovo has developed a synthetic skin for burns and soft-tissue regeneration, which in recent years has been used to treat Australian bushfire and New Zealand volcano victims.

It received US Food and Drug Administration clearance for its NovoSorb MTX product last September.

MTX leverages the technology platform underpinning the clinical success of the company’s other product, BTM, but without a sealing membrane.

With MTX, the wound can be closed either with a skin graft or allowed to heal by contraction and formation of an epithelial layer, simplifying wound management. It is indicated for use in partial and full thickness wounds, pressure ulcers, venous ulcers, chronic and vascular ulcers, diabetic ulcers, and surgical and trauma wounds. Crucially, the MTX product expands PolyNovo’s addressable market in the US by an estimated $500m.

The company’s revenue surged 62.2 per cent to $29.5m in the six months to December 31, based on unaudited accounts. In three of those months during the half-year, it generated sales of more than $5m. This compared with delivering $2m a month in sales in early 2020 before Covid-19 hit Australia.

Elsewhere, Macquarie is only expecting one change to the ASX 50 — with job search company Seek making way for mining giant IGO. Meanwhile, it says Stanmore Resources, Terracom and Silex Systems will be three “automatic” additions to the ASX 300, given the index has 297 stocks currently listed.

“As usual, there is a long list of potential deletions but we only see another seven stocks that are ranking high enough to be added,” Macquarie said of the ASX 300, with other additions including Tietto Minerals, Renascor Resources, Mount Gibson Iron, Bowen Coking Coal, Weebit Nano, Adriatic Metals and Ridley Corp.

It expects Aurelia Metals, Australian Strategic Materials, Pact Group, Betmakers Technology Group, City Chic Collective, Southern Cross Media Group and Bravura Solutions to be deleted from the ASX 300.

Regulators considering sturgeon importation in order to start a premium caviar industry

David Williams is served caviar by chef Victor Bain at the Smith Street Bistrot. Picture: Nicki Connolly
David Williams is served caviar by chef Victor Bain at the Smith Street Bistrot. Picture: Nicki Connolly

Dressed in a crimson blazer, David Williams reclines into a burgundy leather seat at Collingwood’s Smith Street Bistrot where chef Victor Blain serves him the restaurant’s caviar service.

Like the best champagne, the dish is synonymous with luxury and extravagance. But not so much today, says Mr Williams – one of Australia’s prominent agribusiness bankers – as he spreads a dollop on to a Merimbula oyster.

“(Last year) was all about entrees of yellowtail kingfish but 2023 is all about bringing caviar to a wider audience,” he says.

“The $300 jars with all the condiments have always been off limits to all but the very wealthy. Now it’s everywhere in bite-size and affordable dollops.” A few days later, he discovered that Qantas was serving caviar on a flight to New York. There were even bars serving it on potato chips. “Caviar,” Mr Williams says, “is the new black”.

Smith Street Bistrot’s caviar service with Merimbula oysters. Picture: Nicki Connolly
Smith Street Bistrot’s caviar service with Merimbula oysters. Picture: Nicki Connolly

But as tastes change and restaurants like Smith Street Bistrot and Mimi’s in Sydney – which has turned caviar into a pie with scallop mousseline – transform the dish, there is a problem.

While Australia positioned itself well to capitalise on the kingfish boom, albeit partially by accident when some attempts to farm bluefin tuna failed, every ounce of caviar is imported.

What’s more, beluga sturgeon, which produces the most valuable roe and is primarily found in the Caspian Sea, is endangered from decades of overfishing, habitat loss and the illegal trade of caviar.

But in Adelaide, a public servant has found a solution.

Mehdi Doroudi, chief executive of South Australia’s Department of Primary Industries, has been working with the commonwealth for the past decade to allow the importation of sturgeon and a final decision is expected soon.

The federal government is in the final stages of completing biosecurity risk assessments and consultation. Once approved, Professor Doroudi could issue licences under strict conditions, that would create Australia’s first homegrown caviar industry.

“It was a huge effort,” says Professor Doroudi, who worked in the Caspian Sea region and caviar industry in Iran before he emigrated to Australia 27 years ago.

“There are other countries where the sturgeon is not endemic but they import them and grow them in a biosecurity way. And I thought, why not here?”

While Tasmania gets most of the attention in relation to Australian aquaculture, SA has become the nation’s commercial fishery capital, fattening tuna in pens and farming kingfish, barramundi, rainbow trout, oysters and now potentially beluga sturgeon.

The caviar market presents a major opportunity. It is worth about $US276m ($409m) and that is expected to soar to $US1.88bn in the next five years with an annual growth rate of 9 per cent, according to Market Data Forecast.

But competition is increasing. More than half of the world’s commercial caviar farms are in China, where companies including Kaluga Queen sold their first tin 2006.

The cost of production is also high. Sturgeon farms cost millions of dollars to establish, given the fish needs cool, deeper water.

Professor Doroudi says that unlike carp, sturgeon would not survive in the Murray River or even Australia’s coastal waters.

Crucially, it takes more than a decade for a fish to reach maturity and harvest the first batches.

Mr Williams says: “The single biggest issue I see is that sturgeon is like almonds and walnuts, they can take up to 12 years to mature.

“I am not sure capital markets are that patient. However, they have done it in tree nuts, so maybe here also. The Germans and others have learned how to do it, so why not us,” Mr Williams says.

Thierry Bay, director of the Belgian Quality Fish farm, holds a sturgeon in Dottignies, Belgium.
Source: The Australian/Reuters

Australia’s reputation as a clean and green food producer also gives it an advantage, with interest in the nation’s aquaculture assets increasing, following the Tassal’s $1.7bn takeover from Canadian seafood giant Cooke, and Brazilian conglomerate JBS’s $425m acquisition of Huon.

Australian aquaculture is also expanding into new species, farming prawns in recent years and even the nation’s biggest fish, Murray cod, offering a more efficient way to help meet surging global demand for protein as well as higher culinary standards.

“There is lots to like about an Australian-grown caviar for the export market,” says Mr Williams, who bought Tassal for $42.5m after it fell into administration 20 years ago before floating it on the ASX, and then advised Cooke on its acquisition of the company.

“Sturgeon is under threat in certain parts of the northern hemisphere so new ideas to farm it are worth a look.”

Several big names, with equally big pockets, are understood to be interested in applying for licences to import and farm sturgeon in Australia, although Professor Doroudi declined to name those who have approached his office.

“It needs to stack up for investors,” he says, adding that one type of caviar – Almas from the Caspian Sea – sells for $12,000 to $14,000 a kilogram.

“It’s crazy when you think about it, but you need to be patient for 10 to 12 years before you can get caviar from the fish.” But Professor Doroudi says that doesn’t mean that investors cannot generate a return in the meantime.

He says an ideal model is to farm sturgeon, which can grow up to 7m long, for its meat which he says is unlike other fish.

“It’s not similar to anything that we are familiar with here. It’s not salmon, it’s not a snapper, it’s not a King George whiting but it’s nice eating, it’s good eating,” he says. “For many years, many countries have grown, in aquaculture, a sturgeon for the meat. If you look at China, they are producing thousands of tonnes of Siberian sturgeon (meat).”

This compares with global caviar production of about 380 tonnes, according to the European Union’s latest estimates.

“But even if you produce 100kg of that, if you could sell it for around $10,000 (a kilogram), it would be a significant amount in terms of return,” Professor Doroudi says. “I’ll leave that to the business people to run it the way they want to. But if they come to me for my aquaculture expertise and ask how we should do it … I’d say put part of your production into meat production and get cashflow, and maintain the good ones and quality ones through genetic selection.”

David Williams says “there is lots to like” about Australian-grown caviar for export. Picture: Nicki Connolly

Investors could also gain a greater return from adopting roe harvesting practices that do not involve killing the fish. “That way the fish can continue to reproduce,” Professor Doroudi says.

“A lot could be done. It’s really an amazing area to be involved and needs a lot of passion from people who are coming in.

“If someone is after a quick cash return and says ‘I’ll put my money here, I want to see something tomorrow’, it would be wrong to step into this area.”

The idea of using surgical roe extraction techniques rather than killing a fish appeals to Mr Williams but he has a different view to Professor Doroudi about growing sturgeon for meat.

“I look at it as fish farmed for caviar only and harvested annually without having to sacrifice the fish. You can eat the fish, but the main prize is caviar,” he says, adding it was worth the wait.

“The difference between caviar, almonds and walnuts is that one is an aphrodisiac … clue: try the caviar pie at Mimi’s or the Caviar oysters at 300 Smith Street Bistrot,” Mr Williams says.


Mobile Tyre Shop revs up for pre-IPO round

Mobile Tyre Shop, founded by Challenger’s former head of leasing, is parading its wares to potential investors for a $20 million pre-IPO round that is expected to be shopped as far as Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed tyre manufacturing giants.

Mobile Tyre Shop has grown its revenue each half of the past three financial years but is still EBITDA negative. Nine News Perth

Its pitch to investors, seen by Street Talk, was that revenue had grown 36.2 per cent year-on-year while costs were coming down. Now, it needs money to expand its fleet and ramp up marketing.

Mobile Tyre Shop has 42 vans that drive to customers in 3300 suburbs to change or balance tyres. It’s operating in capital cities and has its foot in the door in regional areas and secondary tier cities via relationships with car rental companies like Hertz.

Its third channel of sales is working with other online tyre retailers (Bridgestone, Tyroola, Tyresales) as their onsite fitting partner.

All of that boiled down to $11.9 million trading revenue for the 2022 financial year, and the company expects to triple it to $35.7 million in two years.

It’s still posting losses on an EBITDA basis – $4 million-plus for 2022 – but reckoned the business was more efficient and reducing costs, notwithstanding the loss of corporate business during COVID-19.

Investors were told Mobile Tyre Shop’s capital cities footprint was bringing new potential customers in the door, while online marketing meant ecommerce sales had grown and made up 58 per cent of the total sales in the June half. The raise would allow it to expand its fleet size to 52 this financial year.

The pitch deck also dangled the opportunity for the business to branch out from tyres and deeper into the automotive afterparts market – think, car batteries and windscreens – which was a $5 billion market.

The business was founded by Travis Osborne, who has Challenger Financial Services’ head of leasing. He had also worked at The Gandel Group, Spotlight Property Group and Westfield.

Melbourne corporate adviser David Williams is Mobile Tyre Shop’s chair and largest shareholder. His firm Kidder Williams is running the raising, which was expected to target about a $50 million pre-money valuation.

It would be interesting to see who ends up on its shareholder register.

There’s no doubt Mobile Tyre Shop’s growing, but any potential investor would want to know how far it is from posting profits.

Nevertheless, it’s the kind of business that could be tried on for strategic fit by automotive clubs like NRMA and RACV, or local automotive afterparts giant Bapcor. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see it shopped to overseas auto parts manufacturers like the NASDAQ-listed Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, Tokyo-listed Bridgestone and Toyo Tires, Frankfurt-listed Continental, Seoul-listed Hankook Tire, Milan-listed Pirelli or Shangahai-listed Shandong Linglong.

Germany’s Continental, in particular, knows the lay of the land, having paid $350 million to buy Wesfarmers’ Kmart Tyre and Auto Services in 2018.

Mobile Tyre Shop is kicking off the raising talks just as Tyre retailer Tyremax courts M&A interest from the likes of Bain Capital. Tyremax is a much bigger business with expected $50 million EBITDA and has been tipped to fetch around the $500 million mark when sell-side adviser Miles Advisory reboots the auction next year.