23/12/2009 - 15:11

Birkbeck buys some Snow for pearl chair

23/12/2009 - 15:11

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Denmark-based businessman Steve Birkbeck is the new chairman of pearl farmer Atlas South Sea Pearl taking over from the listed entity's long standing director, George Snow after the latter sold almost 10 per cent of the company to the incoming chairman.

Birkbeck buys some Snow for pearl chair

Denmark-based businessman Steve Birkbeck is the new chairman of pearl farmer Atlas South Sea Pearl taking over from the listed entity's long standing director, George Snow after the latter sold almost 10 per cent of the company to the incoming chairman.

On December 18, Subiaco-based Atlas announced that Mr Birkbeck had increased his holding in the company from approximately 1.4 million shares to around a 10 per cent stake through the purchase of 10 million shares from Mr Snow.

The company said Mr Snow retains more than 6.1 million shares (4.9 per cent of issued capital) and intends to remain as a large shareholder of the company.

"The transfer of shares between directors reflects ongoing confidence by directors in the future of the company and facilitates part of a long term exit strategy for Mr Snow in the normal course of his investment portfolio management," the company said in a statement.

Atlas also confirmed in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday that Mr Birkbeck, a director of the company since April 2005, had agreed to take over from long-standing chairman George Snow "effective immediately".

"His (Mr Birkbeck's) background in the successful marketing of luxury commodities overseas places him in a strong position to guide the company as it enters a new phase of its expansion," Atlas said in a statement.

Atlas highlighted that the company's remaining directors, Ian Murchison, Richard Wright and Joseph Taylor "acknowledge the significant input and support from Mr Snow over his 12 years as a director and chairman."

According to the company's latest annual report (for the first half of 2009), it's main business comes from pearl farming in Indonesia and pearl jewellery manufacturing and distribution.

The jewellery side of operations developed considerably over the last year and now represents nearly 12 per cent of the company's total turnover.

In April Atlas raised $2.9 million via an oversubscribed rights issue providing a cash reserve for any potential opportunties that may present themselves.

Activities during the first half of calendar 2009 generated a $970,000 profit, down sharply from the $4.27 million profit in previous year's corresponding period, although the company suggested the global financial crisis impeded sales during the second half of 2008 and remained an influencing factor.

Two new retail outlets in Bali were also opened in the six months to June 30 which were not open in the same period in 2008.

Total revenue halved (down from $7.4 million in 2008 to $3.6 million during the first half of this year) as income from pearl sales fell 62 per cent ($2.7 million) which the company blames on lower sales volume and price reductions due to reduced demand.

However, income from jewellery sales increased by 62 per cent to $350,000.

Atlas expected jewellery sales to continue growing in the second half of 2009 thanks to increased traffic through Bali while the continued sales of loose pearls remained uncertain.

As of August, the company had four Bali retail outlets with projected plans for a fifth to be located in Jakarta.

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