“If people are putting money into the company [with this capital raising], they need a CEO who’s dedicated for the next three to five years to extracting the value around those things.”
AMA is a major provider of smash repairs to the insurance industry, with a large client being Brisbane-based Suncorp.
But AMA lost more than $320 million between 2020 and 2022 and has written down more than $200 million in goodwill from buying Suncorp’s Capital Smart repairs business. That period included COVID-19’s decimation on smash repair volumes and AMA being squeezed in long-term repair price contracts, which it just renegotiated with Suncorp.
AMA, yet to release results for last year, has previously predicted underlying earnings this year before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation would be between $86 million and $96 million.
Mr Bizon was not on the board at the time of the Capital Smart purchase but Mr Day, himself a former Suncorp executive, was chairman of AMA at the time.
Investment market sources have told AFR Weekend they were disappointed with the board including those there with the Suncorp Capital Smart deal. Non-executive director Simon Moore, appointed in 2018, remains on the board.
Mr Day left on Friday and told AFR Weekend he had new ventures he was working on, and similar to Mr Bizon, had decided the timing to leave was appropriate given the capital raising.
Mr Bizon insisted he and Mr Day were not pressured to depart, saying there were “always stories from those who would wish people harm”.
“Doing jobs like mine and Anthony’s, particularly in times of deep turnaround, can be controversial … Turnarounds are never designed to be easy and tough decisions need to be made,” he said.
Mr Bizon came to the role after the shock departure of former chief executive Andy Hopkins, amid a bitter boardroom fallout.
AMA has sued Mr Hopkins in an ongoing Federal Court case, accusing him of wrongly billing the company for up to $1.7 million in expenses, such as spending on cars and bonuses, and seeking the return of a $1.4 million loan. Mr Hopkins has counter-sued, alleging he is actually owed more than $5 million by AMA including underpayments and lost bonuses.
Mr Bizon, who has almost 840,000 shares and 4.5 million potential bonus shares, maintained the board’s intention last year was not to raise capital but it was doing so now for “optimising the balance sheet”.
This latest capital raising will potentially almost double shares on issue, and follows previous fundraising efforts in 2021 and 2019. Shares in that time have fallen from more than $1.40 to 12¢, with market sources suggesting this fundraising will occur at 8.5¢ a share.
Caroline Waldron, who came to AMA last year, will become chairwoman and a new chief executive search will start.