Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

A block trade worth around $20m in scantily traded green energy producer Montauk this month has signalled the emergence of a new shareholder.

Last week Montauk confirmed that Zurich-based Swisspartners Marcuard Heritage AG has increased its stake in the group to 10.1%. This makes Swisspartners the fourth-biggest shareholder in Montauk, behind current and former directors of empowerment investment company Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI).

Montauk, which produces green gas and electricity from landfill sites in the US, was unbundled from HCI in 2014.

A Sens announcement on Tuesday disclosed that one of the big sellers to Swisspartners was local stockbroker Legae Peresec. Legae’s stake reduced from around 9.09% to just under 4%.

Swisspartners is a diversified financial services firm, but the Marcuard Heritage division specialises in wealth planning and wealth structuring.

This might indicate that Swisspartners is acting as a custodian for an investor that wishes to remain anonymous for now.

The timing of the change of shareholding in Montauk is intriguing, with the key RIN (renewable identification number) price depressed and the company’s share price at less than half of the record highs recorded in 2018.

RINs are credits that are issued for environmental compliance in energy production in the US. Green energy producers earn RINs, which can be traded across industries.

A Montauk shareholder that asked not to be named says the new shareholder might be banking on a rebound in RIN pricing.

"There is a contention that the RIN price is trading at unsustainably low levels at the moment."

Of course, there is also the possibility that Swisspartners is positioning itself ahead of a possible primary listing for Montauk on the Nasdaq next year.

At the end of October Montauk proposed a listing on the Nasdaq and the retention of an inward listing on the JSE. But in February it said that process has been postponed.

The FM reported in May that Montauk’s nonexecutive chair and significant shareholder, Johnny Copelyn, confirmed that a US listing is still on the cards — and is likely, if market conditions are not adverse, during the next financial year.

*The writer holds shares in Montauk