Grandmums' jumped at big Caltex offering

The last thing Caltex wanted was a tout. The company was about to sell 25 percent of its shares to the Australian public -- the first multinational oil company to do so in this country -- when Bruce Bond, a radio and television personality known as "Mr. Money," told all the "grandmums" to run down to their local brokers and buy some of the shares.

He reasoned that the issue, which was scheduled to be sold to the public at $ 2 a share, would zip up to $4 a share on opening day, June 25.

The tout, a Caltex spokesman says, jammed the switchboards at the brokers. And when the "grandmums" found out that 55 percent of the shares had already been promised to 200 institutions such as the Australian Mutual Provident Society -- with few shares left over for the ordinary public -- they called Caltex to complain.

Despite its embarrassment over the tout, Caltex officials were generally pleased with the reception Australia's largest public float, worth $90 million, received. As Mr. Bond predicted on the first day of trading the shares went up, although only as high as $2.70 per share.

The offering was the first time Caltex Australia Ltd., a subsidiary of Standard Oil of California and Texaco, had offered local public participation in any of its overseas operations.

The timing of the offering was important to Caltex, too. The company is expanding and diversifying in Australia. Part of the proceeds of the offering, the company notes in the prospectus, will be used to pay for the $75 million acquisition of Golden Fleece Petroleum Ltd., a refiner and marketer of gasoline. With this acquisition, Caltex became the second- largest marketer of gasoline in Australia, after Shell Australia Ltd.

Caltex also paid $30 million for a 49 percent interest in the Bayswater Colliery Company and plans to double the coal company's capacity. According to a Caltex spokesman, the company is "looking at other moves into coal and energy." The company also has a significant position in H. C. Sleigh, a diversified transportat ion and equipment company, and Boral Ltd., a mining company

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