Capital raising secrets, MAP AGM, AMP, RiskMetrics, Rich List, Fairfax traffic, Hardie, Chinese investment, Morgan poll and much more

February 2, 2010

Dear Mayne Reporters,

First up this week, we've got some good news. Anyone who signs up for a free trial to The Mayne Report before June 30 won't pay a penny to receive our missives for the rest of 2009. So why not tell your friends and colleagues to register here and receive our lively weekly email editions.

What follows below is one of our meatiest editions yet, so make sure you read to the bottom. The complete archive of email editions since we launched in late 2007 is also now available here.

The secrets of capital raising arbitrage plays

All year we've been covering our own capital raising and share purchase plan activities in The Mayne Report. For instance, any Wesfarmers shareholder who read this edition on February 23 would have made plenty had they acted.

However, we were absolutely blown away by the reaction when we pulled the whole capital raising strategy together for the Fairfax websites in this piece on Tuesday which was headlined: How to make $75,000 in three months.

It was the most popular story on The Age and The SMH across their entire websites, not just the business section. A staggering 255,000 page views were generated in 24 hours in what is close to a record for a business story on the Fairfax websites. It even appears to have eclipsed this earlier blockbuster story we contributed about ANZ losing $1 million on a Paris Hilton party which also generated around 250,000 page views.

Of the almost 100 emails which have poured in after Tuesday's story, the biggest issue raised has been how to anticipate a company will have a capital raising. My strategy is to be on as many share registers as possible, but to also track the press for speculation about coming issues. The AFR's Street Talk column has been particularly useful this year, although The Australian's John Durie had this crack at them during the week for supposedly being used by UBS to pressure Goodman Fielder into joining the large club of companies issuing deeply discounted equity.

Where the rumours are persistent - such as with Amcor and ANZ - I also put my better half Paula Piccinini onto the register so we get two cracks if the discounted offer materialises. This double act approach has worked well so far this year with Crane Group and Tabcorp and we're currently weighing up double offers from SP Ausnet, Stockland and Adelaide Brighton.

Another good week and full disclosure of best 15 plays this year

We've just had another good week with almost $5000 in gross profits from 5 capital raising plays and we've also decided to lay out the detail of the strategy for the world to see. The following reveals the 15 plays so far this year which have delivered more than $1000 each, although please remember there has been quite a bit of profit-share with financiers and we're still down overall since the global financial crisis hit:

Fairfax Media: gross profit of $26,300 buying 83,333 units at 75c and selling at $1.10.

Onesteel: gross profit of $8000 buying 20,000 units at $1.80 and selling for $2.20.

Peet: gross profit of $7,134 buying into entitlement offer at $1.10 and selling at $1.43.

Avexa: gross profit of $6244 buying into entitlement offer at 7c and selling for 9c.

Ceramic Fuel Cells: gross profit of $6000 buying into entitlement offer at 5c and selling for an average 6.2c.

Suncorp: profit of $3940 buying into entitlement offer at $4.50 and selling for $6.30.

Crane Group: $3800 profit from two bites at a $7.50 share purchase plan.

Axa Asia Pacific Holdings: $3432 profit crystallised this week on $10,000 share purchase plan.

Wesfarmers: gross profit of $3246 buying into entitlement offer at $13.50 and selling for $16.76.

IBA Health: $3037 profit after buying into entitlement offer at 55c and selling for 64c.

Diversified United Investments: $1500 profit last week on $10,000 share purchase plan at $2, which was sold at $2.30.

Newcrest: $1312 profit on $5000 share purchase plan at $27 which was sold for $34.20.

Crown: $1250 profit on $5000 share purchase plan at $4.95 which was sold for $6.21.

Fletcher Building: $1170 profit today from a scaled back $9000 share purchase plan.

Commonwealth Property Office Fund: $1151 profit on $5000 share purchase plan at 80c after selling at 94c.

Current offers where cash has been committed

With this unprecedented deluge of offers, at any point in time I've got cash (partly credit card debt, to be honest) actually committed to a variety of companies. We got out of Devine and Fletcher Building this morning and recycled that $15,000 into the Alumina offer tonight so in total there is currently $58,000 outlaid as follows:

Alumina: entitlement offer at $1 with shares tonight at $1.235. Closes on Monday and have so far injected $15,000, but looking at a play of up to $40,000 depending on cash flows and finance. Strongly suggest all shareholders apply for three times their entitlement if have the finance.

Dexus Property Group:
$4000 invested at 65c with negligible profit likely when shares debut next Thursday.

GUD: $15,000 down because the chairman Clive Hall is on the RACV board with Paula. Shares debut next Tuesday with marginal profit likely.

Horizon Oil: $10,000 down at 10c and shares have rocketed to 16.5c after $55 million asset sale but offer extended so cash tied up for three more weeks.

SkyCity Casinos: $9000 punted already by cheque as the Kiwis don't do BPAY and offer closes Monday. Currently 10% in the money.

STW Holdings: $5000 down at 46c with shares currently 51c and can sell next week.

The other issue when you apply for shares is the question of scale back and how long a company holds your cash for. After giving incorrect banking details on Paula's account, we're still waiting for a total of $15,500 to come back from Crane and Onesteel and then Fletcher Building should be returning about $4000 on Monday.

This cash, if it arrives on time, is ear-marked for the Macquarie, Aristocrat and Bluescope Steel offers which all close next Friday.

Assessing the capital raising pipeline

It is of no real use to anyone assessing past capital raisings, so we've promised to also reveal the future pipeline of offers that have either been announced or arrived in the mail. There is more than 20 of these, on top of the six listed above we've already committed to, and they are as follows:

Adelaide Brighton: two cracks at $10,000 share purchase plan at $1.78 suggesting $4000 profit if share price holds and no scale back.

Apex Minerals: the only entitlement offer currently on the table where shareholders can't apply for additional shares not taken up by other retail shareholders. Thankfully, this 20c offer is currently only 0.5c in the money.

APN News & Media: entitlement offer currently 25.5% in the money.

Aristocrat: $5000 share purchase plan currently 9.8% in the money and closes next Friday.

Billabong: entitlement offer at $7.50 after placement this week and currently 13.9% in the money.

Bluescope: entitlement offer at $1.55 which closes next Friday and is tonight 34.2% in the money. Get out the kitchen sink!

Bunnings Warehouse Property Trust: entitlement offer arrived this week but only 8.7% in the money tonight.

Clean Seas Tuna: entitlement offer at 55c versus current share price of 59c.

Graincorp: $15,000 SPP at $6.25 (or a 7.5% discount) which is currently 17% in the money.

GPT: 40% in the money entitlement offer but no good for small shareholders as additional applications capped at 25% of entitlement.

Hastie Group: entitlement offer at $1.15 which is barely in the money and closes on June 10.

McMahon Holdings: entitlement offer at 32c which is 10% in the money and closes on June 9.

Macquarie Group: $15,000 share purchase plan at $26.60 which is 26% in the money tonight and offer closes next Friday. Get on board for a quick $4000 profit if it holds!

Nufarm: $15,000 share purchase plan at $11.25 which is only 7.6% in the money.

Orchard Industrial Fund: 16c entitlement offer announced this week as part of a South African bail out which is already under water.

Pacific Brands: entitlement offer at 60c which is 34% in the money with the stock at 80.5c so will be a beauty if it holds.

Seek: $5000 share purchase at bargain basement $2.60 that is now 50% in the money so risk of scale back given offer capped at $15 million.

Stockland: entitlement offer at $2.70 against share price of $2.76 so UBS actually might earn its eight-figure underwriting fee for a change on this one given retail investors likely to give it a miss.

SP Ausnet: two cracks at 78c entitlement offer which looks marginal with stock at 79.5c.

Santos: entitlement offer at $12.50 currently showing 13.4% paper profit.

UXC: $10,080 share purchase plan which closes on Tuesday and is currently right on the 42c offer price, suggesting we'll give it a miss.

Arguing the case for capital raising fairness

Amidst the biggest deluge of capital raisings in Australian corporate history, we have been raising serious questions about the fairness of the system at recent AGMs. This, of course, is contrary to my personal interest as a tiny shareholder in 635 companies who would not benefit from renounceable pro-rata offers. However, you've still got to argue for the fairest system as was done in the Fairfax websites piece. You can hear some of AGM arguments made in the following examples:

Alumina AGM, May 7: Don't scale back the retail allocation under the theoretical maximum

AMP AGM, May 14: Structure your next capital raising so there is no dilution of retail shareholders as a class

Axa Asia Pacific Holdings AGM, May 6:
Why not just do a renounceable rights issue?

Bell Financial Group AGM, April 22: Don't let your clients like St Barbara shaft us small shareholders

QBE Insurance AGM, April 8: How on earth can retail only be allocated 6% of a capital raising?

Very ordinary behavior from Otto Energy

We received this email from a frustrated shareholder of Otto Energy who says that the underwriters of a recent share placement were given preference to ordinary retail shareholders.

Hi, I was interested to read your article on the Fairfax websites about capital raisings. Recently, I attempted to buy more Otto Energy (OEL) in their non-renounceable rights issue at 5c, which was well in the money as they were above 7c on market. I was therefore very frustrated when they refunded all my excess funds and sold out to the underwriters instead of to loyal shareholders. Is there any way that companies who play this trick can be induced to treat shareholders with more respect?

The emailer is absolutely right as you can see from this announcement so we started a process of engagement with the company by sending the following email to Otto's investor relations boss Jill Thomas:

Hi Jill, I'm a shareholder advocate who promotes the interest of retail investors in capital raisings and was curious if you could advise how much in dollar terms you rejected from your shareholders in the recent raising when the entire shortfall was instead issued to the underwriters.

Regards, Stephen Mayne

We'll let you know exactly how much shareholders were ripped off with this deal in the next edition. This situation will be one to watch at Bluescope Steel where the entire retail component is under-written by Credit Suisse and it is more than 30% in the money. Surely retail investors applying for extra shares should get priority over an under-writer who is only really there as a back stop if things go pear-shaped.

Leigh Clifford bags RiskMetrics

There was a very interesting exchange between John Durie, regarded by many as Australia's best business commentator, and the chairman of Qantas and former CEO of Rio Tinto, Leigh Clifford, that was published on May 15 in The Australian's new business magazine, The Deal. It went as follows:

John Durie: What did you think of the big protest vote against Qantas non-executive director Barbara Ward at last year's AGM?

Leigh Clifford: Barbara has a lot to contribute to Qantas. She was a non-executive director at Allco, not an executive. The situation there was that an independent report said Allco's Rubicon deal was a fair transaction. But the proxy advisory firms recommended against her election (at Qantas). Sometimes the depth of the analysis by these firms leave a bit to be desired. I spoke to a number of shareholders and told them that it's serious business to vote down a director, you must listen to both sides. If you want to protest, then abstain. I said "Don't be flippant about this sort of stuff. Because if you vote against her, I am going to take it seriously."

I used to think Leigh Clifford was a straight shooter but this defence of Barbara Ward is very disappointing and a classic example of mis-guided board collegiality. The problems at Allco weren't just related to the Rubicon transaction. It ended up being a collapse where investors lost more than $5 billion across the head stock and its various funds. I'm down more than 95% on my exposures in about 10 Allco vehicles. Throw in the fact that Barbara Ward was also the chair of the Multiplex audit committee at the time the whole Wembley Statium fiasco emerged and shareholders had legitimate grounds to vote against her at Qantas, which they did in record numbers after following the advice of RiskMetrics.

Great video footage of AMP chair defending the indefensible directors

If you extend the Clifford thesis about executives being more to blame than non-executive directors, how on earth did the entire AMP board endorse former Allco CEO David Clarke to serve another three years?

The AMP AGM in Sydney on May 14 was webcast live and we've packaged up the video highlights here, leading off with the battle over whether Clarke and former James Hardie chair Meredith Hellicar should have been put up for re-election by AMP, before both later withdrew.

ABC radio's Sue Lannin was interested in this angle and gave it a good run on The World Today at the time.

After an audit of the AMP website, which has been added to our list critiquing the ASX50 for their webcast archives, we found that the AMP archive goes back to 2004, but the links for 2004, 2005 and 2006 are broken. However, they do webcast audio and video live, and the archive of AGM webcasts of 2008 and 2007 include all questions and items of business, not just the formal addresses as QBE did. Additionally, the videos that you can see here are probably the highest in production quality that we have seen at an AGM, so well done to AMP and click below to check them out:

AMP's record on ethical investments

Nicholas Taylor, who won Ethical Investor magazine's 2007 prize for the best piece of sustainability research has kindly written this interesting story for The Mayne Report assessing AMP's record on investment screening.

There was a time when AMP was simultaneously running the world's largest ethical investment fund through its Henderson busines in the UK whilst holding the mantle as the world's biggest land clearer through its Stanbroke Pastoral business. These days it is out of both businesses and the obvious conflict, but AMP Capital is doing a reasonable job with its screened investments these days, as Nicholas Taylor's story points out.

Will the AICD move on Hardie directors?

This interesting email arrived after the AMP AGM last week:

Dear Stephen,

I caught part of your interview on the ABC earlier this week about the AMP Board finally deciding to take some action re Meredith Hellicar et al.

I am a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and I wrote to them by email quite some time ago suggesting that they expel the Hardie directors from the organisation on a number of grounds. Not least of which that they bring the organisation and other directors into disrepute. I received what I consider a “weasel” response basically indicating that the organisation would not take any action given there were no findings against these individuals.

On the day following the recent court case in which some of the directors of Hardies were found wanting, I again sent an email to the AICD but as yet have had no response.

I am certainly prepared to take whatever action is necessary to have these unscrupulous people expelled from the AICD if they choose not to resign from the organisation of their own accord. I would be interested to understand if you are a member of the AICD and if you would be prepared to assist in having these people expelled from the organisation.

Best regards, Name Withheld

Perhaps we'd better first wait to see what penalties the judge dishes out first.

Airport fog saves Mad Max's MAP from our Axe

Macquarie Airports chairman Max Moore-Wilton, better known as Max the Axe from his public service career culminating in a stint running the department of Prime Minister & Cabinet for John Howard, was handed a piece of paper by an associate of mine just before the AGM kicked off at 10am on Thursday inside Sydney's Sheraton on the Park hotel. It was a script I'd worked up for someone after fog cancelled my flight and it read as follows:

Good morning Mr chairman,

My name is (name withheld) and I'm here on behalf of MAP shareholder Stephen Mayne to beg your indulgence this morning.

Stephen was booked on the 8.15am Virgin Blue flight DJ 821 from Melbourne to Sydney this morning but with plenty of fog about the airport authorities, in their wisdom, decided to divert the connecting aircraft back to Sydney. The flight was cancelled and Stephen is still in Melbourne.

Given these circumstances and particularly MAP's involvement in these logistical difficulties, Stephen begs your indulgence in allowing me to ask a couple of questions on his behalf today without being a duly appointed proxy.


Chairman, last year Stephen asked you if Sydney Airport's book value of $11.7 billion could be realised you said you were “quite confident” it could be sold for “substantially more” than book value.

Given we've just sold out of the Japan's largest airport for a substantial discount to what we paid, how can we possibly justify keeping Sydney at a book value of $11.2 billion, especially when MAP shares are trading at a 60% discount to the claimed net asset backing of $4.70 a share?


Given plunging infrastructure asset prices worldwide, including MAP's proposed sale at a discount of its 15% stake in Tokyo Airport yesterday, what process did the auditor go through to validate the enterprise value of $11.2 billion for Sydney Airport, especially given the 60% discount to book value applied by the market to MAP and the legislative restrictions on foreign investors taking control of the airport.


Congratulations on the governance improvements to MAP's board structure last year and Stephen would like to note the irony that today will be the first time an Australian citizen will be formally elected to the MAP board. Max, as the chief Australian bureaucrat at the time the Federal government mandated 60% of Sydney Airport must be owned by Australian investors, don't you think it's ironic that is has taken 7 years of private ownership before our Bermuda-registered ownership vehicle has asked shareholders to mandate the appointment of you to this board?


Given the privatisation of listed funds Macquarie Capital, Macquarie Private Equity, Macquarie Prologis and now the proposed takeover of Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group over the past two years, is the board and manager examining similar possibities for MAP, especially given the huge 60% discount to claimed asset backing of $4.70 a share.


Changes to security after bikie murder.

Who are in the banking syndicate still owed $5 billion by Sydney Airport?

Rudd Government attitude to foreign ownership restrictions.

I don't usually go to an AGM armed with written questions, so this was certainly a first to have proposed questions handed over to a chairman before the meeting.

Unfortunately, Max the Axe did not grant my man speaking rights and despite promising to answer the questions, there was only really this fleeting mention. Apparently, I'll get something sent through soon.

Meanwhile, check out this video from last year's Macquarie Group AGM and the package of highlights from last year's Macquarie Airports AGM. Taken together, we made a pretty good case that Sydney Airport was ridiculously over-valued and that the Macquarie Model of gouging listed infrastructure funds was a dead parrot:

Rudd down in latest Morgan poll

Pollster Gary Morgan released his latest face-to-face poll this afternoon and it shows the Federal budget has only dropped Federal ALP primary support by 0.5% to 49.5%. However, Coalition support rose 3.5% from its low base to 37.5% as support for minor parties fell back.

If a Federal Election were held now the Rudd Government would easily retain Government, which once again highlights why they'd love a double dissolution election to smash the opposition and remove obstacles in the Senate.

On a two-party preferred basis, support for the ALP is 58% (down 2%), while support for the Coalition is 42% (up 2%). Among the minor parties, support for the Greens is 8% (down 1%).

Gary Morgan says: "Support for the Rudd Government has fallen after Wayne Swan delivered the Government's second Budget. Despite this fall in support, a special Morgan Poll taken this week shows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (60.5%) is still clearly preferred as Australia's Better Prime Minister to Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull (26.5%). Kevin Rudd also enjoys strong approval from the Australian electorate with 57.5% of Australian electors approving of Kevin Rudd's handling of the job as Prime Minister."

Full details are available here.

Queensland's debt crisis, as told by 4BC Drive presenter Mike Smith

I've been having regular chats with 4BC Drive presenter Mike Smith over the past year and he really is quite a goer. For instance, check out this blog item from earlier in the week:

Our state Treasurer will shortly deliver his budget for next financial year. A budget is an informed guesstimate about the state's expected income and expenses for the year coming. I think actual, recorded results give a much better view of how well a government is managing.

This is Treasurer Andrew Fraser's 2007-08 Report on State Finances. You might want to think twice about opening it. It's 110 pages long and a bit impenetrable.

It tells us that in the boom financial year of 2007/08 he delivered a deficit of $1.6 KEV. That is a profit-and-loss result of negative $1.6 KEV. His government also spent $5 KEV cash more than it brought in. That's as a result of its capital works program not being managed to budget. In other words, it blew its budget badly.

Treasurer Fraser explains that away with this magnificent piece of Sir Humphrey-ism. Get ready. It's superb. Here it is, a direct quote from page 4.01: “Capital Purchases in the General Government sector exceeded the estimated actual forecast due to a lower level of under expenditure than anticipated.”

That one is going in a frame on the wall. OK, that's one thing. The government's total debt as at 30 June 2008 is the really scary number.

The financial disclosure laws in the United States are pretty comprehensive. Queensland's Treasury Corporation raises money in the United States. So our government has to produce financial reports for the US Securities and Exchange Commission that meet US reporting requirements.

And that's great, because this resulting financial statement is much, much easier to read than the one that the Government puts out here.

That document shows clearly that as at 30 June, 2008, Queensland's state debt was $41.79 billion. We owe $42 KEV. And that was as a result of the good times. God knows how much that's grown in the 12 months since then.

$42 KEV. I'll write it out. $42,000,000,000.00.

There are currently 2,236,800 people in the work-force in Queensland as at April, 2009. On that basis, each working person in Queensland owed $18,776.80 as at 30 June last year. We've been paying the interest load on that money all year.

Not Federal debt. Not personal debt. That's debt owed by the state government of Queensland. Now you can add in your share of the $300 KEV that Kev's borrowing as well.

Before we pay for one copper, one nurse, one doctor. It's like each of us having a $18,700 credit card balance to finance every month before we can buy the groceries.

Happy with your election choice? There will come a time when a sensible economic manager in this state will need to relieve us of the burden of the interest payments. That will mean asset sales in rail, power stations, ports and anything else that's not bolted down. The people who are in power at the time will cop it for that – but make no mistake – the reason we'll have to do it is because of the shocking mismanagement of the boom times.

This state really did deserve better.

Listen to our archive of some previous chats we've had with Mike Smith on his Drive program, but most specifically March 3 and March 10 when we discussed Queensland's debt problems.

Government bonds getting more expensive Down Under

This unique Mayne Report list tracks all bond and treasury note issues by the Rudd Government since it was elected in November 2007. There has now been more than $25 billion raised since the second stimulus package was unveiled on February 3 and Wednesday's $700 million tender of 11 year bonds was the most expensive in more than eight months. The entry reads as follows:

May 20, 2009: $700m tender of 11 year bonds expiring in April 2020 were sold for an average yield of 5.21% and was 3 times over-subscribed.

Given that Britain is now in danger of being down-graded and the prospect of sovereign defaults is on the rise, maybe the government should dust off the following Aussie Bonds ad from the 1980s in the event that foreign investment support dries up:

Another entry for the $100m loss club

Losing more than $100 million in a year is surely a hard thing to do. We've found more than 75 companies that have achieved that milestone more than 105 times over the past 20 years. Check out where they rank in this league ladder of corporate disasters, plus this chronological version. Meanwhile, here's our latest blue chip entry:

CSR: announced a $326.5 million loss for the year ending March 30, 2009. The earnings before interest and tax fell by 17% and dividends have halved to 7.5 cents a share.

Chinese shopping still strong

The Mayne Report has built up some insightful lists tracking various components of foreign ownership in Australia. Check out all the foreign ownership lists here and we note the following Chinese investment that we'd previously missed:

China Nonferrous Metal Mining Co (CNMC): secured a 51.66% shareholding for $252 million of Sydney-based rare earths company Lynas. CNMC also provided a corporate guarantee to a Chinese Bank to raise another $253m, which brings the total transaction to $505 million.

The two really big Chinese plays for Oz Minerals and Rio Tinto are still to be confirmed by shareholders, but do check out this package supporting our tilt for the Oz Minerals board.

Press room and latest radio interviews

The best way to listen to our regular radio interviews is to sign up for video and audio podcasts.

The past week has included the following:

936 ABC Hobart - talking to Libby Gore about banks, debt, super and other things financial.

774 ABC Melbourne - discussing the departure of Sol Trujillo.

4BC Brisbane - discussing foreign debt with Mike Smith.

ABC Rural - discussing the collapse of Great Southern on the Victorian Country Hour.

774 ABC Melbourne - discussing the Federal budget, government spending, Commonwealth Bank and Crown.

Also, check out these special packages for our other regular media spots. We've spent plenty of time re-arranging the press room so check it out here.

Twitter and Facebook

We have only been tweeting for a few weeks, but have managed to build a small following of around 156. Join our Twitter stream for latest updates on our activity. We are also active on Facebook, so come and join us.

Cornwall cartoons for The Mayne Report

Former cartoonist for Crikey, Mark Cornwall has been contributing his satirical commentary to the Mayne Report since March 2009. Here is a collection of his best cartoons

Mayne Report video blog

Over the past few weeks we have been putting together playlists of videos covering similar topics and additionally, collections of videos from television appearances. Check out these Special Edition videos here.

The Mayne Report Rich List

Since we began compiling the Mayne Report Rich List documenting every Australian currently or previously worth more then $10 million, it has grown in numbers and popularity such that no other feature on the website can match it for traffic.

We're now up to 1345 entries, although some are italicised, denoting that they are no longer worth more than our $10 million cut off. Here are our latest entries:

Nicholas Bolton:
this Melbourne-based internet entrepreneur and university dropout, who made his first million by his 21st birthday, has gained a name for himself as 'greenmailer' after the Brisconnections debacle, yet continues to grow his wealth.

Tim Bosher: of Palm Beach in Sydney was the largest shareholder and director of CITECT which was sold to Schneider Electrics Australia. He was also on the board of pan Bio, Crescent Capital, Surfing Hardware and SHI Holdings and is worth more than $10 million.

Jim Byrnes: there have been several attempts to bankrupt him, and he is banned from acting as a director until 2011. He has been reported as saying "Through 1999 to 2006, I made more than $25 million. I lost $10 million and unfortunately I spent the rest."

John Cassidy: the former Abigroup CEO is both an engineer and pastoralist, who was the sixth Chancellor of the University of New England. He is also chairman of the board of NEGS Ltd which is a company he set up to manage New England Girls School of which he acted as guarantor for a loan to purchase the school from the Anglican church. He sits on this board with two others in his short time has removed both the deputy and headmaster.

John Dickson: inherited over $40million from his mother Jean and formed the Jean & Alfred Dickson Charitable foundation on behalf of his parents. His interests include large land holdings such as Brewarrina Station at Narrandera in rural NSW, and the family beach house at Mt Eliza sold for over $10 million about 5 years ago.

Phillip Grimaldi: WA-based former Murchison Metals director received a tax bill from the ATO for around $35 million, resulting from Australia's largest tax probe, Project Wickenby. With a reported $55 million in bank accounts and tens of millions in shares, this tax bill hits hard but he stays well north of our cut-off of $10 million.

Adrian McGrath:
the Hunters Hill resident in Sydney owns 10.64 million shares in car dealer Automotive Holdings Group which is worth more than $10 million. The stock peaked at almost $4.50 in July 2007 when he was worth more than $40 million, and bottomed at 50c in December 2008 but is improving.

Tony Spanos:
his father made the family name in the meat export business from a processing factory in Botany Road, South Sydney. He has been referred to as defacto street mayor of South Sydney and he is selling his waterfront property known as the Boatshed at McMahons Point for more than $7 million.

Fairfax websites stretch lead over competition

Writing for the Fairfax websites over the past few weeks has been a salutary lesson in the old maxim that most of the commercial value lies with those who control the distribution systems and customers.

We've been slogging away on The Mayne Report for 18 months preaching to a small audience and then with a single article on the Fairfax websites, the whole system of capital raisings for retail investors is taken to a mass market. And when it comes to generating online business traffic, Fairfax is leaving the field for dead.

The sites - which includes The Age, The SMH, and - had their second best month ever in April, behind last October at the peak of the financial crisis.

Fairfax's unique Australian browsers climbed back above two million in April, whilst The Australian's business section was flat at about 600,000 with News Ltd overall producing about 1 million. fell back to 800,000 whilst the valiant new entrant Business Spectator generated less than 250,000 which is still a good effort for a start-up but less than 15% of what the more established non-AFR Fairfax sites have delivered.

As for, it continues to struggle along with about 150,000 unique browers a month as the management attempts to settle on a coherent strategy.

Fairfax delivers record Mayne Report traffic

Whilst we've made a decision to scale up the distribution of a corporate governance message through the mainstream media, rather than concentrating solely on our own outlet, the capital raising piece for Fairfax certainly delivered a record day for The Mayne Report on Tuesday.

In terms of monthly unique browsers, this is how our top five now rate:

May 2009: 41,875 - so far
April 2009: 34,875
October 2008: 33,065
March 2009: 30,927
November 2008: 30,722

On Tuesday, the breakdown of traffic was as follows:

All share transactions for 2009 - 8,142 page views
Mayne report video blog - 3,147 page views
Revealed: world's biggest small portfolio - 2,324 page views
Mayne Report email edition – free - 1,678 page views.

All the recent share trades

We've continued with all this tax-loss selling of late after this run of wins from capital raisings. Check out all the trades so far this year and here's the world's biggest small portfolio as of May 19, 2009 when the 637 stocks were worth just $69,073. The paper loss is down to $61,732 and the average holding is still a miserable $108. Anyway, here's the trading since the last edition:

May 22

Devine: bought 21,231 at 47.1 in share purchase plan
Devine: sold 21,200 at 47c
Fletcher Building: bought 1226 at $4.15 in share purchase plan
Fletcher Building: sold 1266 at $5.09

May 21

sold 47 at $5.25
Blufreeway Limited: sold 2,214 at 3.5c
CVC Limited: sold 297 at 55c
Flexigroup: sold 186 at 72c
Global Construction Services: sold 348 at 44.5c
ING Private Equity: sold 646 at 28c
ING Real Estate: sold 1,240 at 5.8c
International Wine Investment Fund: sold 440 at 30c
Linq Resources: sold 375 at 51.5c
Mortgage Choice: sold 150 at 86c
Progen: sold 133 at 80c
Ramelius Resources: sold 914 at 59c
Sedgman: sold 154 at $1
Swick Mining: sold 290 at 42c
VDM Group: sold 306 at 24.5c
Vulcan resources: sold 1,390 at 10.5c

May 20
Australian Vintage: sold 175 at 32.5c
APN European Retail Property Group
: sold 480 at 5.2c
Ramelius Resources: bought 9433 shares at 53c in share purchase plan
Ramelius Resources
: sold 8,900 at 58c
Verticon Group: sold 3,990 at 1.4c
Vision Group: sold 174 at 66c

May 19
AXA Asia Pacific Holdings:
bought 3,508 at $2.85 in share purchase plan
AXA Asia Pacific: sold 3,508 at $3.84
Mineral Deposits: bought 16,129 at 62c in share purchase plan
Mineral Deposits: sold 16,219 at 63.5c

May 14
AV Jennings: sold 420 at 33c
Fermiscan: sold 552 at 17c
Greencross: sold 310 at 52c
Goodman Plus Trust: sold 12 at $27.50
Indigo Pacific: sold 824 at 7.3c
ING Industrial: sold 214 at 15c
Jetset: sold 157 at 83.5c
K2 Asset Managment: sold 476 at 23c
Macquarie Radio: sold 425 at 18c
MacarthurCook Properties: sold 705 at 8.3c
Multiplex Acumen: sold 357 at 8.5c
Norfolk Group: sold 313 at 39.5c
Northern Energy: sold 361 at 34.5c
Oaks Hotels: sold 310 at 51.5c

May 13
Savcor: sold 258 at 34.5c
Strike Resources: sold 254 at 46c
Sino Strategic: sold 230 at 50c
Structural Systems sold 147 at 90c
Trinity Group: sold 193 at 20c
Toro Energy: sold 630 at 22.5c
ThinkSmart: sold 205 at 48c
Tishman Speyer: sold 180 at 25.6c
Two Way Ltd: sold 160 at 57.5c
Watpac Ltd: sold 106 at $1.08c
Zicom Group: sold 916 at 10.5c

That's all for now, thanks for getting to the bottom and do send through some feedback to

We'll be back in touch next week.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is a multi-media governance website published by Stephen Mayne with occasional email editions. To unsubscribe from the emails click here.