Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Webb’s struggle to stay in the game

One of the most interesting art auction stories at the moment is centred on Webb’s and it’s taking place via the NZX. There have been some dramatic changes. Chris Swasbrook has withdrawn from his management position at Webb’s. It was Swasbrook (a collector himself with two works for sale in Thursday night’s Webb’s auction) who engineered the bold move to Parnell. Now as Acting Chairman of Bethunes the parent company of which Webb’s is a trading subsidiary Swasbrook has just informed NZX, that they intend to raise up to $2.87 million to try and save the well known auction house.

The capital will be raised to pay off
a current debt of $1.5 million accumulated by Webb’s whose current business is described as ‘volatile’. $120,000 of that debt is via investment in a new web site and another $69,000 is owed to Chris Swasbrook’s company Elevation Capital.

Unsurprisingly, the ‘S’ words get an outing, as in reducing Webb’s debt ratio to make it Sustainable and Solvent. Swasbrook has blamed the auction house’s shortfall on ‘extremely vigorous’ competition in the art category. An annual shareholders meeting this Friday will announce plans for the future.

Image: happier days