The reputation of former stock market darling Sirius Minerals PLC (LON:SXX) was left in tatters on Tuesday after the collapse of a planned US$500mln bond sale sent shares in the potash miner crashing 53% to 4.7p.
The misery continued in Wednesday trading, with the shares slipping a further 11.3% to 4.1p by early afternoon.
Sirius’ dramatic reversal of fortune has blown a rather large hole in the account balance of dozens of investors, both large and small, with the future of the project now on hold as the firm considers its options.
Some of the biggest losers of Sirius' share price implosion are its major shareholders.
These include FTSE 250 firm Jupiter Fund Management PLC (LON:JUP), one of the company’s long term backers with a stake of around 4.7% which until Tuesday morning was worth around £32.9mln, it is now closer to £13.1mln.
It is a similar story for LA-based Capital Group Companies, one of the world’s oldest and largest investment managers, whose 6.5% stake in Sirius went from £45.5mln at Monday’s close to £18.2mln by Tuesday afternoon.
Famous institutions such as Citigroup have also been hit with their 5% stake dropping to £14mln from £35mln and there have also been headaches in the Middle East as the state-backed Qatar Investment Authority saw the value of its 3.3% holding tumble to £9.2mln from £23.1mln.
Lastly, there are the 85,000 retail shareholders, some of whom live close to the mine site in North Yorkshire and had invested in a bid to boost the fortunes of the local economy.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said that given the current situation it was “highly likely” that Sirius investors would suffer further as the firm “may have to raise more money or sell a chunk of its business to a new strategic investor on unfavourable terms” due to its now desperate need for cash.
While the bulletin boards have been filled with tales of woe, some on the market will be rubbing their hands with glee at Sirius’ plunge.
One such character will be hedge fund billionaire and America’s 45th richest man Kenneth Griffin, whose Citadel asset management firm held a 0.9% short position on Sirius as of 9 September.
Another prominent shorter is BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, with a 0.7% position.
READ: Sirius Minerals financing falls apart amid Brexit bond turmoil, Boris Johnson’s govt refuses funding support
Shorting is when an investor borrows shares in a company and sells them in the hope the price will decrease, allowing them to buy back the shares for a lower price and pocket the difference.
A toss-up for the UK Government
Finally, Boris Johnson’s government could be one of the biggest losers in the Sirius saga, with its refusal to act as a guarantor for the project causing widespread political fallout.
A prominent critic is Anna Turley, the Labour MP for nearby Redcar, who in a statement following the news branded the government’s refusal to step in as an “absolute disgrace” as the project would provide 1,200 jobs across Teeside and North Yorkshire.
Turley also lambasted the government’s Northern Powerhouse strategy, which aims to boost economic growth in Northern England, saying its commitment to the proposal was “ringing hollow” in the wake of Sirius’ troubles.
The government’s inaction may also have hit a raw nerve given the previous administration headed by Theresa May had supported government-backed financing for the project before she exited Downing Street in July.
However, one upshot for the Treasury will be that it will not have to immediately stump up hundreds of millions of pounds, particularly with no-deal Brexit plans already sucking up large amounts of taxpayer cash, which at current estimates stands at over £6bn.