The day Alan Jackson lost his cool

By Stephen Mayne
January 14, 2008

The following story appeared in The Daily Telegraph after the Austrim AGM in Melbourne on October 22, 1998.

"Mind your own business," snapped business legend Alan Jackson when I asked him at the Austrim annual meeting yesterday why he'd flogged $43 million of shares at high prices last August.

Fair question, I thought. After all, this was the guy who bought into Austrim with Kerry Stokes and Dick Pratt back in 1995 at just 75c a pop and then sold 10 million shares at $4.32 in August.

Jacko told shareholders that Kerry, Dick and himself were "the big brave hearts who were prepared to pay 75c". Cripes, I was stupid enough to pay almost $4.

Austrim is Alan Jackson, so when Jacko starts dumping stock the share price dives. It closed at $2.29 last night. Jacko, the man who built the $10 billion BTR empire and now chairs Austrade, sits on the Reserve Bank board and is a director of Kerry Stokes' Seven Network, is not used to his adoring small shareholders asking "negative questions". Even so, it was a virtuoso performance from the great conglomerator in front of 300 shareholders at Melbourne's Carlton Crest hotel.

Despite the falling share price, there was applause at the end as he promised to do his best. And after approval was granted for the issue of more than 300,000 options, Jacko returned to the microphone and jokingly promised to try and "double everything". He was clearly tickled pink at buying the Nylex plastics business for $63 million on Wednesday, saying it had "enormous potential". And Jacko also said Austrim could change its name to Nylex.

"It's an excellent name and I think it would help the Austrim group to get better known," he said.

At the end of the meeting, he took it all in good spirits, shook hands and suggested I give the Seven Network board a bit of stick at their annual meeting this morning.