Hardman is not sitting on its laurels

No-one could accuse Hardman Resources management of inertia.

Apart from success at home – most recently in the northern Perth Basin where the company has in the past month reached agreements to rationalise its interests in two separate permits – Hardman has had considerable success in offshore Mauritania.

Here, the company has also executed a farming agreement with Africa’s largest energy company in the past month and is carrying a $40 million commitment to an ambitious 2002 drilling program.

With other promising overseas interests in Malta and French Guyane, Hardman is about to build on its UK investor interest by completing a compliance listing on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market.

Following the listing, planned for later this month, Hardman will actively promote developments in its overseas projects to this comparatively enormous capital market – one for which northern hemisphere projects hold more relevance and often attract greater interest and a higher level of understanding than the domestic market.

The AIM listing process is neither cheap nor easy, but Hardman has been looking at such an event since late 1998, when it acquired UK subsidiary Planet Oil and prepared a listing prospectus before withdrawing its application.

Hardman is now following almost a dozen other Australian companies that have been prepared to subject themselves to another set of regulatory requirements, working through UK-based London Stock Exchange nominated advisers (NOMADs).

However, the process for those who follow Hardman is sure to change, with the LSE announcing it could confirm the first Australian-based NOMADs by April this year.

In the least, this would help reduce travel, accommodation and communications costs for Australian companies seeking an AIM listing, the total cost of which is said to average £220,000 – not including ongoing annual fees for NOMADs (as much as £30,000) and public relations firms.

One part of a NOMAD’s job is to perform due diligence on the company. However, heritage and native title issues relating to Australian assets often are not well understood by UK advisers – one area where an Australian firm would perhaps better serve an Australian company.

DJ Carmichael/Carmichael First Capital executive director Craig McGown said DJ Carmichael & Co had undertaken a lot of work in this field, advising companies considering or preparing for an AIM listing.

Logistically, there was a lot of merit in appointing Australian stockbrokers and corporate financiers as NOMADs, Mr McGown said.

Australian companies could meet all requirements and, in particular, Carmichaels would be ideally suited to play such a role, he said.

Blake Dawson Waldron partner Roger Davies agreed the move by the LSE to appoint Australian-based NOMADs was good news and that broking and accounting firms here had the right business systems and procedures in place to fulfill all monitoring and reporting tasks required.

Firms could charge between £25,000 and £30,000 for an average admission, and as much again for an annual fee, but the comparative value of a NOMAD nomination for an Australian firm would most likely require an increase in the volume of listings from Australian clients.

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