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Damon Neaves says there is no magical formula for a successful float; it is simply a combination of a good asset, achievable goals and a solid capital structure.

As managing director of Perth-based Pura Vida Energy, by far and away the best initial public offering in Australia last year, Mr Neaves should know.

After listing at 20� on February 14 and battling a sluggish start, Pura Vida rose steadily in the second half to end 2012 at 79.5� - a 297 per cent increase on its IPO price. The rise came despite Pura Vida following up its $4 million IPO with a $3 million equity placement at 25� in July and raising $5.95 million at 70� in November.

It is an enviable result considering that of the 51 new companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange last year, only 20 were trading in positive territory by December 31. And many were offering investors only wafer-thin returns.

This is without even mentioning the plethora of failed IPOs in a year that most involved in the sector would happily forget.

A big chunk of Pura Vida's upward movement was a direct result of its 75 per cent interest in the Mazagan permit, an oil prospect in a much sought-after offshore zone in Morocco.

Pura Vida got in early. And after a feverish land grab, its neighbours now include $4.7 billion US-listed company Kosmos Energy, $2.1 billion UK company Genel Energy (headed by former BP oil chief executive Tony Hayward) and $1.5 billion London-listed Cairn Energy.

Mr Neaves said that after purchasing the acreage on "very attractive terms", all the ducks lined up.

"We were very fortunate to pick up the space when we did," he said. "There's been a bit of a land grab since and a lot of activity. The timing has played out well for us, there's no doubt. But I think in the past 12 months we've really proved the case for oil . . . and people really like our story."

Mr Neaves said the ground had an independently certified mean prospective resource of 5.3 billion barrels of oil. This is an estimate but nonetheless it has brought a lot of interest to the area.

Pura Vida is now valued at $54 million.

The company's drilling program is 12 months ahead of schedule and it has confidently managed every goal - including two capital raisings - it set itself last year.

Mr Neaves said that was a crucial part of its successful first year on the boards.

"We had a constant news flow and were able to manage market expectations - you don't want to miss milestones or people start to lose faith," he said. "You also need a good capital structure.

"It's got to be clean so you can get institutions involved. You see a lot of re-capitalised shells, with big overhangs in terms of options on issue, legacy shareholders looking to exit when the company lists, things like that. A lot of companies fall into the trap of just desperately trying to raise money, no matter the consequences . . . they don't think about tomorrow."

An overview of WA's IPOs last year would prove that some took more account of potential consequences than others.

Iron ore explorer Equamineral Holdings was the year's second most successful new listing, rising from its 20¢ offer price to as high as $1.03 before finishing the year at 65¢. It has an iron ore project in the Republic of Congo.

Other WA success stories included Bora Bora Resources, which rose from 20¢ to 45¢ on the back of its St Arnaud gold project in Victoria.

Eastern Goldfields jumped from 20¢ to 37¢ and Fortunis Resources climbed to 27¢ after listing at 20¢ on December 18.

On the flipside, the biggest loser of 2012 was West African-focused explorer Taruga Gold, which dropped to 8¢ after listing at 20¢. Both Cassini Resources and Victory Mines finished the year at 9¢ after listing at 20¢.

After an enormously successful year, Mr Neaves said the next phase of Pura Vida's history would be its most important.

He said it was putting the finishing touches to a farm-in deal for the Mazagan field and looking for potential acquisitions.

"We've had huge interest in our farm-in process, with 30-plus parties in the data room," Mr Neaves said.

"(They are) all multi-billion companies with the kind of financial horsepower necessary to undertake a deep water drilling program.

"We are planning to maintain a 20 per cent to 40 per cent stake and have it all wrapped up in the first quarter of 2013."

You don't want to miss milestones or people lose faith. "Pura Vida's Damon Neaves