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Shipwreck hunter Odyssey falls after short seller report

Crew members from Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. work aboard the Seabed Worker


By Jack Kaskey - Bloomberg
 

Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX), the deep-ocean salvage company that has recovered millions of dollars of precious metals from shipwrecks, plunged the most in two years after short seller Meson Capital Partners LLC said it will run out of cash.

Odyssey fell 25 percent to $2.14 at 3:29 p.m. in New York. The Tampa, Florida-based company earlier dropped 34 percent, the most intraday since September 2011.

Crew members from Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. work aboard the Seabed Worker vessel during recovery operations at the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site in the Atlantic Ocean. Source: Odyssey Marine Exploration via Bloomberg

“The purpose of OMEX is to serve as a vehicle for OMEX insiders to live a life of glamor hunting the ocean while disappointed investors foot the bill,” Ryan J. Morris, managing partner at San Francisco-based Meson, said today in a 66-page report, referring to Odyssey by its stock symbol. Meson has a share-price target of zero.

Odyssey has lost an average of $20 million a year for five years and is unlikely to be able to repay its debts, Morris said. Odyssey will be forced to file for bankruptcy protection in six to 12 months if it can’t raise equity, he said.

Odyssey said it has contacted market authorities about the report and is considering legal action against Meson and Morris.

“The text is filled with lies, false statements, and misleading allegations,” Laura Lionetti Barton, an Odyssey spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. “We believe this is a clear attempt to manipulate the market.”

According to the report, Meson was founded in 2009 and is an activist investor that seeks to turn around “faltering” companies.


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