Do former Coalition ministers perform well on boards?

By Stephen Mayne
February 12, 2009

Any suggestion that former Howard Government Ministers are competent economic managers is questioned by this list of share price performance. Whilst Tim Fischer, Ian McLachlan and John Sharp have delivered in the regional and agricultural space, there's not much else to celebrate. Also, check out this related Crikey story about political board performance.

John Anderson: the former deputy prime minister and Nationals' leader was appointed chairman of Eastern Star Gas on September 11, 2007, and since then the stock has has fallen from around 45c to 33c.

Larry Anthony: the former Children's Minister is a director of Macquarie Media which floated at around $4.80 in late 2006 and is now down to $3.80. Also joined the ABC Learning board in March 2005, but the stock has tumbled from $5.60 to about $1.50.

Doug Anthony: the former National Party leader served successfully with Robert de Crespigny on Normandy Mining for a number of years in the late 1980s.

Sally-Ann Atkinson: was never a Coalition Minister but Lord Mayor of Brisbane is the next best thing. Has chaired child care giant ABC Learning since it floated and watched enormous wealth destuction as the shares plunge from more than $7 to just $1.50 during 2007-08.

Richard Alston: the former Federal Communications Minister served briefly on the Hansen Technologies and MCG Communications before landing his new government gig in London.

Neil Batt: the former Tasmanian deputy premier had a mixed time as chairman of Heine, which later became the now invincible Armstrong Jones.

Charles Blunt: the former National Party federal leader had a bad experience on the board of dotbomb company Maxis Corp.

Rob Borbidge: the former Queensland Premier chairs two companies, struggling mortgage company Asset Loans and developer CEC, both of which are struggling during the credit crunch.

Ian Campbell: the former Environment Minister has been a director of Perth-based tech company ASG since June when the stock has risen almost 30c to about $1.80. However, shares in ship builder Austal Ltd have tumbled from $3.80 to $2.60 since he joined the board in June this year.

Tim Fischer: the former deputy prime minister joined the board of the Australian Agricultural Company on October 26, 2001, and since then the stock has quadrupled to more than $3. Had a less happy experience on the board of dotbomb company Maxis Corp, with fellow National Charles Blunt.

Malcolm Fraser: a brief stint on the perenially struggling Melbourne-based traffic management technology company Redflex.

Robin Gray: the former Tasmanian Liberal Premier has been a director of tree-lopping giant Gunns Ltd since 1996 as the stock soared after the Boral and North Broken Hill Forest Products takeovers, before a more recent slump coinciding with the pulp mill project and a stronger dollar.

Nick Greiner: has sat on more than a dozen public companies over the years, with successful versions including Stockland and the more ordinary experiences including BMC Media during the dotcom boom and advertising firm Bluefreeway.

Don Hayward: Jeff Kennett's Education Minister crossed political lines to serve with former NSW Premier Neville Wran on the Abigroup board, before it was taken over by Leighton.

John Hewson: was never a Minister, thankfully, if his board record is anything to go by. The likes of CBD Online, Ticor and, more recently, National Fuels, have not performed well.

Jeff Kennett: was a far better Premier than chairman if the woeful performance of companies like SofCom, National Telecoms Group, Data & Commerce Ltd and, more recently, Jumbuck Entertainment, are any guide.

Ian McLachlan: the former Defence Minister has been a director of Clean Seas Tuna since it floated in late 2005 and the shares have soared from 50c to $1.80.

Andrew Peacock: the Kooyong Colt took over as chairman of Queensland property outfit MFS on March 19, 2007, with the stock at around $5 and after peaking at $6.80 in May it dipped below $4 in August and is now below $1 and headed towards zero. Also profited nicely during a short stint as chairman of Childcare Centres of Australia before it was rationalised by ABC Learning.

John Sharp: the former National Party Transport Minister has been deputy chairman of Regional Express since it floated at $1 in late 2005 and after a surge to $2.80 in October 2007, it is back below $2 but still a good performer.

Jim Short: the former Finance Minister has chaired struggling software services company Iatia Ltd since it floated in early 2002 and after it peaked at 28c, the stock is now trading below 7c.

Warwick Smith: John Howard's first Sports Minister made plenty as a political fixer for Macquarie Bank during the Howard years but not so successful since, especially the disastrous stint on the board of advertising and marketing company Bluefreeway.

Alan Stockdale: Jeff Kennett's Treasurer and the new Federal President of the Liberal Party has a very ordinary record on four boards, as is explained in this Crikey story. He was appointed to the Senetas board as deputy chairman in March 2006 when the stock was trading at 80c and is now chairman as the ship goes down with the stock below 10c. In April 2007 he joined the board of Bill Ireland's Mariner Financial and since then it has plunged from 90c to less than 20c. Stockdale has also chaired tallow products and soap group Symex Holdings since it floated at 50c a share in 2009. After peaking at $2 in 2001, it's now back to 49c. Even past boards weren't great. Stockdale chaired biotech company Axon Instruments from 1999 and was chief spruiker when it raised $14 million at 20c in the 2000 float and then a further $50 million in a placement at $1.28 a few months later. Investors took quite a haircut when it was taken over by a US firm for the equivalent of 36.2c a share in 2004.

Shane Stone: the former Northern Territory chief minister and Federal Liberal Party President has put in a shocker as a director of City Pacific, which has plunged from $4.50 to less than $1 during 2007-08.

Robert Webster: Nick Greiner's planning minister in NSW served profitably with his former boss on British America Tobacco Australasia, plus was a director of Mirvac Property Trust and insurer MMI.

Michael Wooldridge: the former Health Minister is chairman of Prime Retirement Trust which debuted at $1 in June this year but is already down to 87c. Also joined the board of struggling Australian Pharmaceutical Industries in February 2006 but since then it has tanked from $2.90 to $1.80. His research plays haven't turned up much either as cognitive tests aspirant Cogstate Ltd was in the midst of a rapidfire fall from 50c to 20c back when he joined in May 2004 and since then it has fallen further to 13c. Diabetic research company Dia-B Tech floated in January 2005 with Dr Wooldridge as chairman after raising $6 million at 20c a pop, but the stock never traded above that price and is now at 10c. Finally, there is the tiny Authorised Investment Fund which is also going nowhere fast.


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