Public Apology : Stuart Roberts

I’d like to state from the outset, that despite a deeply ingrained sense of Catholic guilt, I generally don’t apologise just for the sake of apology. When I apologise, I sincerely mean it – and upon reflection this weekend – I would like to sincerely apologise to Stuart Roberts for my last two posts. The style of my communication was unkind and patronising, and although my commentary was based on factual matters, the delivery was excessively sarcastic.

By now, you will have gathered that I have little respect for Prima Biomed (ASX : PRR). This is a company that has had a huge opportunity to move beyond CVac and re-invent itself as a better company. As such, it could have changed the quality and integrity of its public communication, signalling to shareholders and prospective investors that it is worthy of a new lease of life. Instead, we continue to be served the usual rubbish and, as I have asserted in relation to recent public communication, misleading rubbish. To be clear, this post is not an apology to Prima but at the end of the day, an ASX disclosure is the responsibility of the entire company’s governance structure, not just the Head of Investor Relations.

Thus, in singling out Stuart as the focus of my ridicule and criticism, I “overstepped the line” of decency.

For the record, I like Stuart very much. I think he is a bright guy with a real ability to think out of the box. I am consistently impressed with his personal insights into our industry and he is a hell of a decent bloke to go and have a beer with. Stuart is an intellectual without being pretentious (unlike, at times, myself) and he has a natural gift in establishing trust and rapport with people. Indeed I suppose that’s part of the ‘magic’ of his little fireside chat (the “pleasingly warm and erudite” comments in my prior post were genuine, incidentally). There is just very little to dislike about the guy, even if he hasn’t yet fully moved on from being a sell-side analyst.

I am sorry Stuart, I am sorry I was a prick.

Of course, this apology does not – in any way – guarantee that I will not be a prick again in the future. If Prima continues to pump out the same quality of IR/PR garbage, my reaction will always be just as anaphylactic and no less scathing. Similarly, I see no place in mature and responsible public company communication for an informal Friday mail blast to shareholders. The significant responsibility of Stuart’s professional role has moved beyond the informal account engagement of a brokerage firm. Less is more, quality is preferred. Anyone who feels strongly otherwise needs to simply start understanding that investing in biotechnology doesn’t mean you get a weekly update of progress, indeed a profuse level of public noise is usually the sign of a weak company, not a strong one.

I also promise in the future, that if I criticise Prima’s IR/PR strategy, I will make it clear that I am not talking about Stu’ as an individual, but rather Prima’s Head of Investor Relations. Perhaps that will serve to somewhat depersonalise it and make it less upsetting on an individual basis. Also, since I will not be at Bioshares this weekend, and therefore will not have the opportunity to at least attempt to drink Stuart’s resentment of me away (or get him sufficiently drunk to punch me in the mouth and get it out of his system), I instead offer – as part of my public apology – to pick up Stuart’s weekend scotch tab (up to the value of NZD $1,000)*

Awesome Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire. http://www.gratisography.com/

*upon presentation of receipt(s) by Stuart. Nobody else gets a free ride on the Long Tail unless Stuart picks up the tab…

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