Shares in Barry Lambert's Ecofibre surged 70 per cent in their debut on Friday at the Australian Securities Exchange, giving the maker of hemp products a market value of more than $500 million.
Shares with the ticker code EOF opened at $1.61, up on the initial public offering price of $1 per share. They got as high as $1.75 per share and as low as $1.45. They closed at $1.70.
The company did not use a broker and instead tapped the contact books of chief executive Eric Wang, the former chief operating officer of Perpetual, and Mr Lambert, who is best known for the sale of Count Financial to CBA, and is Ecofibre chairman.
Chairman Barry Lambert with granddaughter Katelyn at the bell ringing ceremony for Ecofibre Ltd IPO at the ASX. LOUIE DOUVIS
“We won’t lose sight of our patients and customers and that makes a great company,” Mr Wang said at a lunch celebrating the listing where hemp food was served by chef Michael Moore of Sydney’s O Bar and Dining.
Mr Wang said Ecofibre was doing things for the “right reasons, and that is helping people”.
“If you don’t lose sight of this, the company will be strong,” he said. "We have a loyal base. The value of the company will settle where it does, and if we do the right thing with our customers, our numbers will be good.”
Mr Lambert had his family in tow at the ringing of the ASX bell on Friday morning. His granddaughter Katelyn suffers from a severe form of child epilepsy, and takes medical cannabis as part of her treatment program.
“I said to the team, it’s the market who creates the price and management which creates the business. Forget about the price, we need to work on the business," Mr Lambert told the AFRWeekend.
“Since we started the IPO process the market has been quite strong. It's been favourable, it reminds me of the dot-com era. There has been a bit of a cannabis bubble I believe, but the important thing is we differentiate ourselves from other players."
Mr Lambert again criticised the government for the “unworkable laws” around medical cannabis.
Mr Lambert and his family will control about 24 per cent of the company, while Mr Wang has a 2.79 per cent stake. Fund manager Will Vicars holds 6.49 per cent, while other backers include chairman of Australian Philanthropic Services Chris Cuffe, former Wallabies captains John Eales and George Gregan, and musicians Jimmy Barnes, Diesel and Jenny Morris.
Company founder Philip Warner and his family have an 18 per cent stake.
Ecofibre has three businesses: US-based Ananda Health produces nutraceutical products for human and pet consumption, Ananda Food makes products such as protein powders and hemp oil from Australian-grown hemp. Hemp Black makes hemp-based textiles that Ecofibre is developing in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Mr Lambert and his wife Joy gave $34 million four years ago to the University of Sydney for medical cannabis research.
Originally published here: https://www.afr.com/business/health/rich-lister-barry-lambert-s-ecofibre-makes-asx-debut-20190329-p518v4?fbclid=IwAR12yeMKs_r8NB7jYASqyOdWqGn5s7vDVN07pgmB3-P2KUwI3LW_o4yMD-c