Online sharemarket forum HotCopper (ASX: HOT) has made its first major corporate move in years, announcing the acquisition of Stockhouse Publishing, a Canada-based business which runs a similar sharemarket forum, but focused on North America markets.
The purchase price of CAD $20 million (approx AUD $22m) will comprise of C$18m in cash and C$2m in HOT shares with HotCopper seeking to raise A$6.95m via an Entitlement Offer to existing shareholders with the remainder to be funded via a debt facility with the National Bank of Canada.
“With this acquisition we will have the leading media position on two of the world’s largest stock exchanges. It’s a key step in delivering on our vision of a global financial news and investor relations platform for self directed wealth’,” said HotCopper Managing Director, Jag Sanger.
Whilst participation in HotCopper’s online forums is free for investors to post and engage with other investors, the Company earns revenue via advertising of ASX-Listed companies on the site, and via dedicated email sends to HotCopper’s database.
This service has been promoted as a retail investor relations offering where the acquisition will be a key step in HotCopper’s strategy to advance the current forum into a global news and retail investor relations platform.
Praised by some as a tool for dedicated discussion about listed companies, the forum has been maligned by others due to hidden agendas of users and so called ‘keyboard warriors’ which require constant forum moderation.
Upon completion of the acquisition, HotCopper anticipates that it and Stockhouse will combine to reach 2 million investors per month and serve more than 400 listed company clients.
Existing investors will be hopeful that this acquisition bears more fruit than the Company’s last corporate activity – a partnership with video producer Big Un in 2017 which collapsed into administration in 2018.
Upon announcement of the acquisition, users were quick to comment.
“Hold up. A tiny barely profitable company is buying another with a load of debt which at this rate will hang forever. Good idea guys. How about you get some real profits and earn some real clout before you start trying to buy things. I’m yet to hear a good thing about the people of business about this company and the share price matches. Good luck holders. Sounds like Aspermont 2.0,” posted user Paul Robinson.
“I’m not too fond of the idea of us buying another forum if it’s not cashflow positive and laden with debt. their website looks like a news portal – not sure if they have salaried journalists. I don’t think news is the right direction – many are suffering and going digital so lots of competition,” posted user deardphil.