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Signature makes Olivia brand-new

Olivia Newton-John's Koala Blue brand is being revived by Signature

TWELVE years after the collapse of her Koala Blue brand, Olivia Newton-John's label has been revived as the cornerstone of the $6 million float of retail company Signature Brands.

Signature is a retail brand company created by chief executive Sean Neylon - the founding shareholder of internet media company LibertyOne - and non-executive chairman Ian Duffell, the former boss of music and lingerie retailer Brazin.

Koala Blue is just one of several high-profile Australian brands owned by Signature. They include the resuscitated Brian Rochford swimwear label, children's clothing line Ozi-Varmint and Olivia Wines.

Koala Blue was originally an apparel retail company co-founded by Ms Newton-John and Pat Farrar in 1983. It collapsed nearly 10 years later under financial pressure and was brought in 2001 by SBI, which relaunched it as a wine company the next year.

Brian Rochford also collapsed for financial reasons.
However, Mr DUffell said the brands still attracted "huge demand". "People are supporting it because it's an Aussie battler" he said.

Signature is due to list on the Australian Stock Exchange next week after several months of planning.

It joins a long list of companies to be floated in the past year, including car parts group Repco, JB Hi-Hi and construction group Muliplex. Nearly 20 new listings are planned this year.

Investor response to Signature's float has been strong, with the placement closing oversubscribed and ahead of schedule.

The original placement was for about 2.5 million shares but was later increased to 3.2 million - just over half of the company shares - because of strong demand. The issue price was 20cents, with KTM Capital acting as underwriter. Institutul takers were Wilson Asset Management and Rothschild Asset Management.

Mr Neylon and associated interests hold about 23 per cent of the company, with Mr Duffell holding 1.5 million shares; Jaqueline Major, who created Ozi-Varmint, 2 million shares; and Ms Newton-John and Mr Rochford each retaining 500,000 shares.

The company's prospectus shows that it is targeting a net profit before amortisation and goodwill of $695,00 in 2003-04, or 2.3cent earnings a share. Its price-earning multiple is 8.6. Proceeds from the float will be used to expand existing brands and buy new ones.

-- The Australian January 15, 2004.





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