Political donations, Stokes, Westfield tower, state debt, Colless, Manningham nursing home, Grand Prix, Rich List and much more

March 5, 2010

Dear Readers,

Firstly, welcome to the 270 people who declared themselves to the Australian Electoral Commission as the person responsible for a campaign finance return for the 2008-09 financial year. You're receiving this newsletter for the first time.

Reforming campaign finance has long been a passion of ours and The Mayne Report will be cranking up the coverage in this big election year, hopefully with the assistance of some of you providing feedback and insight. However, if you don't want to receive these occasional email updates, just click here to unsubscribe.

As an example of our planned coverage, here is the text of an email we sent to Melbourne accountant Ian Evans who is responsible for the $58 million worth of shares controlled by the Victorian division of the Liberal Party through the Cormack Foundation:

Hi Ian, I've been doing some research on the campaign finance figures disclosed on February 1 and am proposing to write a story commending Cormack's prudent investment strategy and successful stock picking over the last little while.

The Victorian Liberals are clearly the best financially managed division of any political party in Australia.

However, before rushing into print or on the airwaves, I just wanted to make doubly sure that I've modelled the portfolio correctly based on the dividend figures paid. I've adjusted for the share sales disclosed and assumed you took up your Rio rights.

I'm not looking for any updates beyond June 30 last year but just want assurance that I haven't made some fundamental miscalculation as don't want to put inaccurate figures into the public domain.

Also, I will be favourably comparing the quality of your disclosure compared with the spartan effort by Labor Holdings in Queensland which is the second biggest political investment fund in the country.

Anyway, the figures are as follows and a quick reply would be much appreciated if this is wrong as I'm on Lindy Burns from 5.35pm tonight.

Regards, Stephen Mayne

Combank: 285,000 shares worth $15.15 million
NAB: 319,000 shares worth $8.26 million
BHP-Billiton: 200,000 shares worth $8.19 million
Wesfarmers: 253,000 shares worth $7.44 million
Rio Tinto: 81,000 shares worth $5.85 million
ANZ Bank: 125,000 shares worth $2.76 million
Westpac: 100,000 shares worth $2.54 million
Fosters: 250,000 shares worth $1.39 million
Woolworths: 50,000 shares worth $1.31 million
Brambles: 150,000 shares worth $1.05 million
Transurban: 200,000 shares worth $1.04 million
QBE Insurance: 35,000 shares worth $0.8 million
WA News: 100,000 shares worth $0.75 million
Telstra: 208,000 shares worth $0.65 million
GWA International: 200,000 shares worth $0.63 million
Alumina: 250,000 shares worth $0.4 million

Total: $58.2 million

Unfortunately, Ian didn't reply to that email, a follow-up phone call and even a business card dropped in at his very low key second floor address in the heart of Melbourne's retail precinct on Little Collins Street.

After earlier battles with the AEC about what if anything the Cormack Foundation had to disclose, the Victorian Liberals clearly wish to keep their riches very low profile. And that includes having the boutique accounting firm Evans Buchanan, which doesn't even appear to have a website, handle its returns to regulators. No doubt the Big Four accountants wouldn't want to be so overtly party political.

Anyway, we have trotted out some campaign finance insights in the following three ABC radio appearances since the last email edition of The Mayne Report went out on February 1:

774 ABC Melbourne - regular spot with Lindy Burns discussing Cormack's $58m share portfolio, Greece and media moguls.

774 ABC Melbourne - regular spot with Lindy Burns, discussing News Corp profits and political donations on February 3.

ABC Radio National
- talking with Peter Mares on The National Interest program about political donations and long overdue reforms.

There was also this story on Crikey last week about the Cormack portfolio.

There are so many other interesting angles on campaign finance to pursue. For instance, we've been working with one of the mainstream newspapers about the Labor Party having $1.5 million of its funds frozen in a scandal-ridden property trust, but so far it is yet to see the light of day.

Campaign finance internet disclosure foiled at Manningham City Council

There has been much going down at Manningham City Council over the past three months but it was hoped this motion at the last council meeting would sail through as a "no brainer" for improved transparency:

14.4 Notice of Motion by Councillor Mayne (NOM No. 4/2010)

I hereby give Notice of Motion for the February 2, 2010 Council Meeting as follows:


“That in the interests of transparency and good use of technology, Manningham City Council resolves to publish on its website the campaign donations returns lodged by Councillors elected at the 2008 election and in all future elections until resolved otherwise.”

Sadly, even my two Heidi ward colleagues, Geoff Gough and Grace La Vella, voted against it on the rather thin basis that they don't like councillors putting up motions without a proper process and report from the council officers.

That might be the case on big policy issues, but this was simply getting documents that are already publicly available at council placed on the web.

Anyway, it was nice to get some support from two of the Labor councillors, Ivan Reid and mayor Charles Pick, along with the Green David Ellis, but it went down 5-4 because governance and transparency advocate Graeme McMillan voted against and was backed up by his two strong supporters Meg Downie and Fred Chuah.

Kerry Stokes and the great debt shuffle

Amid the blizzard of publicity about the proposed deal by Kerry Stokes to merge his mining interests with Channel Seven, observers should remember that there remains one other important piece of business to conclude: the recapitalisation of Seven Media Group's massively geared television and magazine businesses.

Before yesterday's deal, the Stokes empire comprised an overly indebted private mining equipment play, a cashed up listed company and an overly indebted media joint venture with KKR.

When KKR exits, as it inevitably will, Stokes will want to re-assume full control of Seven, but by rolling his debt-laden mining interests into the listed cash-box, that new expanded vehicle won't necessarily have the capacity to swallow up all that KKR debt.

For mine, a $2 billion valuation for Westrac is over the odds and Seven's minority shareholders should either block the deal or negotiate better terms. It all seems eerily reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch's 2004 reshuffle when he dumped those old media newspaper assets in Queensland on News Corp shareholders in a breath-taking $3 billion related party transaction. Those same assets would struggle to fetch $1.5 billion if sold today.

Institutional investors have a long history of selling on the cheap to media moguls and then buying back assets at top dollar valuations.

Just because Kerry Stokes wants to pay down some private debt without triggering a big tax bill doesn't mean that institutional investors should be dragged along to create a hotch potch conglomerate.

Based on an early assessment, I'll be speaking and voting against at the EGM in April.

Skewering the Swans chairman over pokies, poor performance, related deals and the Panthers

Richard Colless has been the pugnacious chairman of the Sydney Swans since 1993 who famously gave Eddie McGuire the bird during this Four Corners interview in 2002.

He's also the chairman of five debt-laden ING property trusts which have performed dreadfully during the global financial crisis. Investors have lost billions!

I headed up to Sydney yesterday for the information meeting of ING Real Estate Entertainment Fund which has holdings in almost 40 pubs and clubs.

The opening question put Colless right on the spot: what accountability at board and management level has been shown for the dreadful performance across the ING stable?

Colless could only say that most of the top executives had been flicked and rather than directors also being given the boot, he was rolling up his sleeves to salvage something from the wreck.

Whilst IEF has indeed secured a new $180 million 5-year debt facility, it is conditional on stabilising its biggest operator tenant, the Icon group, which is in the midst of its own debt crisis.

Icon brought a stable of pubs to IEF, including the infamous Bourbon & Beefstake bar in Kings Cross where Ricky Ponting was knocked out in 1999, but these have brought no end of trouble.

Indeed, the property next door to the Bourbon, Sydney Aussie Rules Social Club, was written down from $21.4 million to $13.1 million in the 2008-09 accounts. Given the involvement of Colless through the struggling "Club Swans" operation, this generated a "related party transaction" question and much shuffling of feet.

Colless told unitholders he left the room appropriately to avoid any conflicts, didn't make a cent out of it and felt hard done by because the renovation took far too long and he would have made it happen faster if directly involved.

CEO Daniel Hargraves had earlier commented that rising social concerns about playing the pokies in Kings Cross had hurt the business and Colless observed that pokies losses were still below the pre-renovation levels. Oh dear.

The other fascinating point to discuss was the joint venture IEF has with the Penrith Panthers across their 14 pokies venues which comprise a staggering land bank of about 2 million square metres.

IEF values the 49.9% stake in the land and building - not the Panthers pokies licences given these are owned by a mutual which gets huge tax favours from the NSW and Federal Governments - at almost $90 million and has a chance to exit in 2 years time under the agreement.

Hargraves noted the final Productivity Commission report into gambling represents a risk but the industry lobby groups are working closely with the Federal Treasury to limit any losses from changed tax treatment.

Colless, in a moment of frankness, wasn't so confident and noted that social concerns about the pokies are on the rise. Too right they are.

Manningham's deputy mayor and the $10m nursing home play

We've had a big blow up at Manningham City Council over the summer after deputy mayor Fred Chuah attempted to by-pass council planning rules and have the state government directly approve a $10 million-plus tripling of the not-for-profit nursing home he chairs in the sensitive Green Wedge part of the municipality. The local Murdoch paper produced this wrap on the issue last week.

I've been very disappointed by the tactics employed by Fred and his allies in the Labor-led ruling faction, hence the following motion has been proposed for debate at tonight's council meeting:

14.3 Notice of Motion by Cr Mayne

That Manningham City Council:

1. Notes that in the period since the commissioners until the election of the current council in late 2008, the state government rarely intervened in council planning matters.

2. Requests the state government and all applicants for major developments on privately owned land in Manningham respect the primacy of council's role in the planning process and the need for maximum community consultation.

3. In the matter of Westfield's Grosvenor Street application, council notes the state government's support for the 10 storey proposal in a written submission to VCAT and calls on Planning Minister Justin Madden to respect the unanimous view of officers and councillors that the proposal is an over-development which should be refused.

4. Council calls on both the Liberal and Labor Parties to publicly commit in their election manifestos to maximum community consultation and council involvement in the planning process for the redevelopment of the Eastern Golf Club, in contrast to what happened at Kew Cottages where the matter was “called in” by the Minister.

If no member of the ruling faction criticises the extraordinary actions of one of their own, then councillors as a whole will have reduced credibility fending off state government takeovers on other major developments in Manningham.

This particularly applies to the three Koonung Ward councillors - Messrs Chuah, Reid and Pick - who have been making lots of noise about maximising public open space on the 48ha Eastern Golf Club site in Doncaster which represents Melbourne's biggest in-fill development in years.

My greatest fear is that the developer of Eastern Golf will simply make a big donation to the Labor Party - just like the six-figure sum Graham Richardson and Sydney billionaire Lang Walker handed over as the "called in" Kew Cottages battle raged - and then us Manningham councillors will be completely side-lined by Spring Street.

The state government hasn't been treating us well on other major developments in Koonung ward recently. For instance, check out the state government's submission to VCAT on a 10-storey apartment tower Westfield is proposing in Grosvenor Street at the back of Westfield Doncaster.

The Government has claimed the following: “Manningham City Council's in principle support for its proposal is welcomed”.

Given that Manningham's planning officers recommended against the proposal, the councillors voted 9-0 against and there were more than 130 objections, these government claims need to be disputed loudly if it is to have any impact before the VCAT hearing resumes on March 3.

Yet at precisely this moment one of the ward councillors responsible for representing residents around Grosvenor Street is, wearing another hat, trying to get the Minister to green light his own nursing home expansion in Donvale which appears to be our of step with council's planning policies.

Here's hoping Fred's friends, factional and ward colleagues will see sense and persuade him to withdraw the application to the Minister before any more damage is done.

Edited audio from special council meeting on deputy mayor's nursing home proposal

Below is the edited audio from the special council meeting held on February 10 to consider the deputy mayor's nursing home expansion proposal:

Introductions, three councillors attempt to move and then Cr McMillan's opening contribution

Green David Ellis makes his case against

Liberal Geoff Gough makes his case against

Independent Stephen Mayne makes his case against

Graeme McMillan reluctantly sums up support for officer report

Full debate

Cornwall: Mad Monk loves those boats coming in

Audio highlights from February 2 council meeting

We had a particularly fractious Manningham City Council meeting held on February 2. Check out the agenda and minutes. Below are links to edited audio of our contributions to the public debate:

Putting Westfield on notice over parking issues

Agreement with mayor Pick on new way forward with Manningham Centre review

Ruling faction roll officer recommendation on small unit development in Franklin Rd

Approving planning permit for our Civic Precinct

Comparing tobacco and gaming policies

Capital works, finance and performance reports

Fractious debate about "family parks" and due process

Going down 5-4 on my motion to put campaign donations on web

Full 30 minute debate over Green Wedge and nursing home expansion proposal

From councillor to parliament

Thanks to all those councillors who sent in updates and corrections to this list tracking councillors in Parliament. We started with 79 and are now have north of 100 examples of current and past federal and state politicians who got their start serving on their local council. Below is a sample of some of the entries on the list:

Geoff Gallop: a Rhodes Scholar and City Councillor at Fremantle from 1983-1986. In 2001 he led the Labor Party to victory and became Premier of WA, which lasted 2 terms before health issues saw him resign in 2006.

Peter King: a Rhodes Scholar, he was a member of the Woollahra Municipal Council and was Mayor from 1990-1991. He was a Liberal Party member from 2001 to 2004, representing the seat of Wentworth. In 2003 he was challenged for his Liberal endorsement in Wentworth by Malcolm Turnbull, which he subsequently lost. In response he ran as an independent in the 2004 election and received 18% of the primary vote. He was then banned from the Liberal Party for ten years for running against a preselected Liberal party member.

Russell Savage: a former senior sergeant with Victoria Police, in 1990 he entered local politics as a councillor for the Shire of Mildura council, until 1995. In the 1996 Victorian state elections, he ran as an independent in Mildura and won. Savage survived another election before he lost his seat in the 2006 Victorian State election.

Stephen Conroy: the Communications Minister in the First Rudd Ministry was first elected as a Victorian Labor senator in 1996 after starting out on Footscray City Council.

Alex McTaggart: was Mayor of Pittwater Council and was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Pittwater from 2005 - 2007, something which is no longer allowed in Queensland and was never allowed in Victoria.

Mark Vaile: he was a member of the Greater Taree City Council from 1985-1993 which included a 3 year stint as deputy Mayor. The former Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister. The former member for Lyne from 1993–2008 was also the Trade Minister and was involved in the negotiation of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

And the man who introduced us to TV Week:

Bruce Skeggs:
a councillor with Heidelberg Council which include a stint as Mayor from 1990-1991. He was a Liberal member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1973 to 1982, representing Ivanhoe, and representing Templestowe Province from 1988-1996. He was also the founding editor of TV Week.

Government bonds list and the great Rudd debt spree

The Mayne Report remains the only publication in the country which directly tracks Federal government bond issues as they unfold.

As the globe focuses on sovereign debt servicing risks, surely the record debt issuance by the Rudd Government should be receiving some more attention.

There has now been more than $45 billion raised since the second stimulus package was unveiled 12 months ago. If you take it all the way back to Kevin Rudd's election, there was only one bond issue in December 2007, 14 in 2008 and a staggering 100 in 2009. Below are the results so far in 2010 which have produced interest rates well above the 4% projected in the budget but no shortage of bidders:

Friday, February 19 , 2010:
$1.2bn tender of 2 year bonds expiring in November 2012 were sold for an average yield of 4.85% and was 3.7 times over-subscribed.

Wednesday, February 17 , 2010: $500m tender of 10 year bonds expiring in April 2020 were sold for an average yield of 5.59% and was 4.3 times over-subscribed.

Friday, February 12 , 2010: $700m tender of 3 year bonds expiring in May 2013 were sold for an average yield of 4.91% and was 5.3 times over-subscribed.

Wednesday, February 10 , 2010: $500m tender of 11 year bonds expiring in May 2021 were sold for an average yield of 5.57% and was 3.7 times over-subscribed.

Friday, February 5 , 2010: $700m tender of 5 year bonds expiring in April 2015 were sold for an average yield of 5.04% and was 2.8 times over-subscribed.

Wednesday, February 3 , 2010: $500m tender of 10 year bonds expiring in April 2020 were sold for an average yield of 5.51% and was 2.8 times over-subscribed.

State Government debt websites

Whilst whacky Barnaby Joyce has been making all sorts of reckless statements about potential defaults by the US and Australian state governments, there are indeed grounds to be concerned about the very poor level of disclosure of state government borrowing programs.

The Feds are borrowing with their ears pinned back but at least the action is being comprehensively disclosed on the AOFM website, which enables us to put together the lists above.

Our researcher Shane Marden maintain the bonds list so I asked him to put together something similar for the states, but it turns out they disclose very little.

Since 2008, Treasury Corporation of Victoria has been borrowing about $5 billion of new money each year on behalf of the Brumby Government but you can't deduce the results of individual bond issues by looking at their website.

However, at least the Victorians have got their short term outstandings down from $4.2 billion at the peak of the global financial crisis last March, to a more modest $2.2 billion today. That said, you wouldn't want to be a big company with more than $2 billion of debt outstanding at the end of each month. That's a lot of short term rolling to do!

Whilst NSW has a much bigger debt problem, there is some modest disclosure such as the following:

The Queenslanders have the biggest borrowing program of anyone, but the QTC website is particularly spartan, which should not be acceptable given the government has announced a $15 billion fire sale of assets, such is the magnitude of its financing challenge.

The South Australians, Tasmanians and West Australians also lack disclosure rigour so it really is high time someone forced some consistency in the information available.

After all, the Greece crisis basically revolves around window-dressing of debt figures, including the use of derivative plays with Wall Street. The Kirner Government dabbled in some of this stuff, even securitising the receivables for its gas and water utilities to bring cash through the door to pay wages in the early 1990s.

At the end of the day we need maximum transparency around budgets and government liabilities and the states are doing a pretty poor job when it comes to revealing their borrowing programs.

In the interests of disclosure it should be noted that Manningham City Council has no debt. Indeed, there is currently $56 million of cash in the bank, although much of that is set aside for specific developments or in reserves and funds to cover future liabilities such as long service leave and accommodation bonds in our nursing home.

Donate to help fund our activism

The Mayne Report is a free service which costs almost $100,000 a year to run and relies partly on donations to survive.

Thanks to everyone who has chipped in a collective $5000 worth of donations over the past few months and you can check out their details on this honour board.

It was really nice to get back from a three week driving holiday to Queensland and receive a $500 cheque from the same lovely old lady from Toorak who once handed over a cheque whilst I was on the feet in full flight at the microphone during the 2008 Commonwealth Bank AGM.

If you fancy giving us a hand to help fund our activism and keep The Mayne Report going as a free service, just click on the image below. Here are the latest honour board entries:

February 2
FH: donated $50
Ben: donated $100

Cranking up the Albert Park grand prix campaign

Former City of Port Phillip councillor Peter Logan is back in the saddle at Save Albert Park and has just sent the following missive to various political heavyweights involved with the loss-making F1 Grand Prix:

To our local representatives in State and Federal Parliament,

The Grand Prix problems for Victoria are getting worse – in an election year, with the costs and the hype out of control and the loss of the naming rights sponsor we will be hearing more about this problem. I have pasted in below my letter published yesterday in The Age.

Save Albert Park claims the taxpayers supported the 2009 F1 Grand Prix in Albert Park with a total of $86.631 million, when all subsidies are included. Please see my attached spreadsheet for details. To put this in perspective, last year's Crawford Report into Federal funding of sport found that the Commonwealth spent just $90 million annually in support of all sports in Australia.

I ask: do you think it's wise or fair to fund one car race experiencing declining public, sponsor and spectator support with a similar amount of taxpayer money as the Federal Government spends on all sports in Australia?

Yours sincerely,
Peter Logan, media contact, Save Albert Park

And here is the letter published in The Age

Consistency, please

THE Brumby Government acted quickly to sack the board of the Stolen Generations Victoria company for $100,000 inappropriately spent (The Age, 18/2).

It should apply the same standard to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which has clocked up operating losses of $204.36 million. Mr Kennett promised in 1993 ''Victorian taxpayers would not be asked to meet the cost of the event''. In its 1996 annual report the corporation promised ''to make a cash surplus each financial year''.

The corporation's annual reports show, damningly, that the taxpayer costs are far greater than the reported operating loss: total government contributions for the F1 Grand Prix are $296.754 million and on top of that the corporation has earned interest totalling $14.945 million. Treasury would tell you this event comes at a further cost because the cumulative interest on all this expense would now exceed $150 million. Victorians need the government and opposition to apply the same accountability and moral standards they expect of the Stolen Generations company.

Peter Logan, South Melbourne

Meanwhile, it was an unusual front page story in The Sunday Age this week which detailed the frustration of drag racing promoters to get a purpose built facility in Victoria. It certainly seems strange to back the massive losses of F1 whilst refusing relatively modest investment in something which exists in other parts of Australia.

Slowing additions to $100 million loss club

A then-record 29 ASX-listed companies reported losses of more than $100 million in 2007-08.

The 2008-09 season delivered even more red ink with 52 companies losing more than $100 million as the GFC really took its toll.

That's a pretty amazing statistic given that we had previously only found 75 companies that have achieved that milestone more than 150 times over the past 20 years. Check out where they rank in this league ladder of corporate disasters, plus this chronological version.

The interim profit reporting season rolling out this month has delivered much better news with only a small number of new additions, including these two property plays:

Australand: following a profit of $40 million profit in 2008, the property group announced a $298 million loss for 2009. Additionally, its operating profit fell 31% to $120 million, down from $175 million.

Westfield: $3.5 billion in write-downs, largely related to US and UK investments, delivered a bottom line loss of $458 million for calendar year 2009.

If we've missed any others, drop us a line to Stephen@maynereport.com.

More additions and updates for The Mayne Report Rich List

Save for claiming Griffin Coal boss Ric Stowe was worth $720 million in 2009, BRW magazine generally does a good job with its various Australian Rich Lists but we've broadened their efforts to track any Australian who has ever been worth more than $10 million. We've got more than 1400 names with those who've fallen back below $10 million now italicised.

An emerging star is Zeljko Ranogajec, who was recently profiled by Nick Tabakoff in the News Ltd Sunday papers. He is a relatively anonymous rich lister known by casinos around the world as "The Joker" because of the size of his bets. Tabakoff reported that he alone makes up 6-8% of Tabcorp's annual turnover which equates to around $600-800 million. If you add to this the tens of millions he bets with local bookmakers and other places around the world as far flung as Russia, his annual spend is reported to be more than $1 billion. His team of form and video analysts, which take up a large portion of the top floor of the NSW headquarters of Tabcorp, have helped grow his operation into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut.

Meanwhile, here are a few more new additions and updated entries:

Spiros Alysandratos: arriving from Greece in 1959, at age 20 he opened his first travel agency which grew into Consolidated Travel - Australia's largest privately owned distributor of airline products. Between he and his wife they own 48.15% of the company, which, as of early 2010, equates to about $153 million. BRW claims $217 million.

Jeremy Barlow: non exceutive chairman of Bandanna Energy who owns about 116m shares. In early 2010 the share price was around 60c which pushes his wealth toward $70 million.

Max Begely:
non executive director and founder of Matrix Composites & Engineering. As of early 2010 his wealth was north of $35 million.

Greg Bundy:
former head of Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific sold his Mosman House for $8 million in 2004 and is now looking to sell his Pymble mansion for a similar figure.

Chris Chronis:
colourful Melbourne fashion player who also signed contracts to buy the troubled QBH nightclub from Woolworths for $8 million before the pokies giant allegedly reneged as this Herald Sun story explains.

Dennis Criddle:
the founder and chairman of Decmil Group, formally Paladio Group, he owns about 24 million shares worth north of $30 million.

Di Giorgo family: Steve and Rita Di Giorgio purchased a 160ha bush block at Luncindale in South Australia when they arrived from Italy in the 1950s. Working on other farms during the day and then their own at night, this hard work ethos allowed Steve to begin a land-clearing business which has allowed their property to expand to around 9000ha. The run a commercial sheep and cattle business and have a strong interest in wine with their Di Giorgio Family Wines winery in the Coonawarra region.

Kevin Doyle: former Vivendi Water chairman sold his two-hectare resort-style mansion at Terry Hills, in early 2010, for $9 million to Westpac CEO Gail Kelly. He purchased the property for $3.65 million in 2005.

Ray Gillham: before Clive Palmer came along, this chap was Australia's largest individual political donor. He gave $862,000 to the Citizens Electoral Council in the 2003-04 financial year, making him the most generous individual to any political party. A 78-year-old Queensland grazier, has a large land and cattle holdings near Mackay in Queensland.

Neil Graham :
a retired crane driver who bought some land in WA in 1986 for $200,000, had his land compulsorily acquired to facilitate the construction of the Perth-to-Mandurah railway. His application for compensation rate was rejected by the WA government claiming it was too much and instead paid out $2.5 million. After a six year legal battle, in early 2010 he was awarded $15 million for his troubles.

Havas family: pop up on the Contango Microcap share register with almost $1 million worth of shares, suggesting Dr George and his wife Lynnette are probably worth more than $10 million.

Gary Hill: a farmer/grazier, he inherited property from his grandfather who owned Yarrabee Station situated at Dingo. Felix Resources mined the Yarrabee mine for high quality coal for many years. At one point he also owned a very popular Kiosk in the Botanical Gardens in Rockhampton.

Anna Hookway:
a shareholder of the Sydney-based fashion brand management company, Oroton Group, she entered into a deed with brothers Robert, Ross and Tom Lane, dated October 21, 2008 which requires them to act co-operatively with each other in relation to the consolidated entity's affairs. Under this deed, as at July 25, 2009, 11,944,859 or 29.22% of the issued shares are in their control which pushes the entity's wealth north of $72 million, and individually around $18 million.

Jonathan & Candie Italiano: the private investors were reported by The AFR in early 2010 to be selling their Mosman Park mansion in Perth for an asking price of almost $9 million.

Francis Jennings:
director and top 20 shareholder in the Hastie Group who owns about 9.3m shares or 4%. The stock peaked at almost $4.80 in January 2008 when he was worth more than $40 million, bottomed at $1 in December 2008 and in early 2010 was around $1.79.

Thomas Jennings:
director and top 20 shareholder in the Hastie Group who owns about 9.3m shares or 4%. The stock peaked at almost $4.80 in January 2008 when he was worth more than $40 million, bottomed at $1 in December 2008 and in early 2010 was around $1.79.

Anthony Karam: managing director of TMA Group, formally Mark Sensing Ltd, owns about 947m shares. As of early 2010 when the price per share was 3c, his wealth was north of $25 million.

Tony Myer: the Melbourne investor was reported by The AFR to be selling his Noosa penthouse for about $4 million.

Will Vicars: director of the Sydney-based fashion brand management company, Oroton Group, he owns about 4.8m shares. The stock bottomed at $2 in February 2009 and in early 2010 was around $6 which values his stake north of $25 million.

Frank Wilson: taxation lawyer who became founding chairman and controlling shareholder of Perth-based TFS Corporation which is into forestry and fragrances. He owns about 39.8m shares or 21.58%. The stock peaked at almost $1.50 in September 2008 when he was worth more than $40 million, and bottomed at 70c in December 2008 but has since recovered to $1 in January 2010.

Introducing the Cornwall shop

Former Fairfax and Crikey cartoonist Mark Cornwall has been contributing his satirical commentary to The Mayne Report since March 2009. The cartoons are now available to purchase and make a great gift. Here is a collection of his best toons and there are now also some amusing animations. Check out some of his latest offerings throughout the edition:

ASIC opens its jail account for 2010

Is ASIC an effective corporate cop? You be the judge as this is the list of 349 people they have sent to jail since it was established in January 1991. There were only 19 incarcerations in 2008, and in 2009 we only reached 15, one of the lowest figures in years. So much for justice being served swiftly against all those wrong-doers exposed by the global financial crisis.

ASIC had a terrible run with its high profile cases in 2009 after embarrassing losses on One-Tel, AWB and Andrew Forrest, but the appeals are flying thick and fast and the government is boosting its coercive powers in areas such as insider trading so we should see the plod lift its jail rate in future years. Below is the first entry for 2010:

9 February 2010 - Samuel Saunders of Orange, NSW, was sentenced on 5 February 2010 to 2 years and 3 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 months. The charges relate to the fundraising activities of the former property developer and mortgage broker, while he was a director of Mortgage Finance Australia.

Capital raising plays since the last edition

There has been very little to report on the capital raising front so far this year, but the full list of plays since January last year makes for happier reading and is available here. Those offers we have taken up have produced very little in net terms and rolled out as follows since the last edition:

February 1:
CBD Energy:
$15,000 into SPP at 13c and exited at 12c to lose $1150.

February 2:
Breakaway Resources:
$10,000 into 1-for-3 entitlement offer at 6c with overs. Exited at 5.9c for tiny loss.

February 3:
Contango Microcap:
$15,000 into SPP at 87c and exited at 92.5c for a gain of $900.

February 4:
Platinum Capital: $15,000 into SPP at $1.53 (5% discount to VWAP) and exited at $1.555 for profit of $200.

Offers we're currently committed to

Norfolk Group:
$10,000 so far into 2-for-9 entitlement offer at 72c with overs which closes February 26 and trades March 9.

Powerlan: $5000 into 4-for-1 entitlement offer at 6c with overs which closed February 15.

Assessing the capital raising pipeline

Here is the very thin list of known offers in the pipeline which remain open and we're considering:

Charter Hall: 2-for-5 entitlement offer at 65c with overs which closes March 5 and trades March 17.

Norfolk Group: 2-for-9 entitlement offer at 72c with overs which closes February 26 and trades March 9.

More from Cornwall

Adding to the world's biggest small portfolio

We've added about 20 new stocks to the portfolio during the recent market downturn. Check out all the trades in 2009 and here's the January 18, 2010 snapshot of the world's biggest small portfolio of 722 holdings worth $69,225. The overall paper loss is $4,650 and average holding worth $96.

As for the trades since the last edition, they are as follows:

February 19
Trafalgar Corporate: bought 715 at 70c

February 18
Blueglass: bought 2,942 at 17c

February 17
China Steel: bought 4,167 at 12c

February 12
CBA PERLS: bought 74 at $171.70

February 11

Telstra: bought 3,000 at $3.22

February 10
Bio Tech Capital: bought 2,000 at 25c
Brierty Ltd: bought 1,563 at 32c
Maryborough Sugar: bought 270 at $1.90
Victoria Petroleum: bought 2,000 at 25c

February 9
Amcom Telecommunications: bought 1,750 at 30c
Berkeley Resources: bought 390 at $1.29
News Corp: bought 200 at $17.20
Rio Tinto: bought 100 at $66.17
Tabcorp: bought 600 at $6.78

February 8
Axiom Properties: bought 16,000 at 3.3c
Katana Capital: bought 715 at 70c
Pro Medicus: bought 658 at 76c

February 5
Alkane Resouces: bought 1,613 at 31c
Bow Energy: bought 475 at $1.05
Choiseul Investments: bought 100 at $5
bought 300 at $3.16
Perseus Mining: bought 313 at $1.58
Resource Generation: bought 1,389 at 36c

February 4
SAI Global: bought 140 at $3.65
Platinum Capital: sold 9,800 at $1.55

February 3
CBD Energy: sold 115,400 at 12c
Breakaway Resources:
sold 166,600 at 5.9c
Contango Microcap:
sold 17,200 at 92.5c

ebruary 2
Forest Place Group: bought 625 at 80c

February 1
Data #3: bought 57 at $8.80
Ludowici Ltd: bought 186 at $2.70

More Cornwall

From the press room: Crikey and 774 ABC Melbourne

Crikey celebrated its 10th birthday on February 14, which was a great milestone. A few historical reflections have featured in some of the stories we've written for them in recent times:

Revealed: Crikey lavished $200 on Conroy at black-tie journos dinner
Friday, February 19 2010

Revealed: the Liberal Party's $58m share portfolio
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mayne: from Jeffed to Crikey – how it all began 10 years ago
Monday, 15 February 2010

The very 1st edition of Crikey
Monday, 15 February 2010

Manningham battles Westfield, makes Parliament and tabloids
Thursday, 11 February 2010

A tale of drinking, driving and bloody idiots
Thursday, 11 February 2010

Joe Ludwig's dad shows the real campaign finance agenda
Monday, 8 February 2010

Mayne digs some donations data dirt
Monday, 1 February 2010


774 ABC Melbourne - regular spot with Lindy Burns, discussing the Victorian Liberal Party share portfolio on February 17

774 ABC Melbourne -
regular spot with Lindy Burns, discussing News Corp profits and political donations on February 3.

ABC Radio National -
talking with Peter Mares on the National Interest program about political donations.

Questioning Mark Scott at the Melbourne Press Club

Mark Scott is generally regarded as having done a good job since 2006 as the managing director of the ABC. Earlier this month he gave a strong performance at the Melbourne Press Club and during the formalities he labelled your correspondent "peripatetic". Of the three definitions offered up by Dictionary.com, I'm assuming he means: "walking or traveling about; itinerant".

We weren't planning on asking any questions but this was a little cheeky so we through a curly one at him about the "inexorable downward pressure" on journalists wages. Check out the full video of the exchange below:

Click the link below to get the latest radio and AGM audio

China angered by US President Barack Obama and Dalai Lama meeting

By our multi-media producer Shane Marden

Adding to the already tense US-Sino relations because of recent cyber spying allegations and US arms sales to Taiwan, Barack Obama privately met with the Dalai Lama on February 18 expressing his support for Tibetan rights. The president praised the Dalai Lama's commitment to non-violence, he strongly supported the Tibetan identity and championed the protection of Tibetans' human rights in China.

The Dalai Lama spoke after the meeting to reporters saying he expressed his admiration for the US as a "champion of democracy, freedom, human values" and creativity.

China reacted angrily and said the meeting was a "violation of US policy on Tibet".

In 1950 Tibet was invaded by Chinese Communist Troops, and the result was that Tibet was forced to sign the "Seventeen Points Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet". This was a new chapter in the history of Tibet.The 14th Dalai Lama, who assumed powers as the Head of State in 1950, left Tibet in 1959 and formed a government in exile, operating from India. Since then, the Chinese violated the articles of the agreement that had been reached.

Education has been restricted, monks under constant threat of imprisonment still involuntarily denounce the Dalai Lama, and since 1950 it is reported that more than 2 million Tibetans have been killed, and many more incarcerated.

I was appalled by these human rights abuses. So I traveled to Tibet and photographed the children - the hope that remains, and the awe inspiring landscape, to show the world how beautiful this land and culture is. It is worth saving.

I created a coffee table book: child of Tibet - a lost innocence, from this experience, including stories and photographs and the foreword is written by the Dalai Lama. I met the Dalai Lama 10 years ago in India and had a private 30 minute meeting with him discussing the book and my upcoming travel to Tibet. I was fortunate enough again almost 10 years to the day, to personally hand the Dalai Lama a copy of the book.

The book was officially launched on July 1, 2009 by Greens Senator Bob Brown. Watch his strong speech here.

Listen to this chat with Lindy Burns on 774 ABC Melbourne about the book and traveling to Tibet.

Check out the book, go and have look at some photographs and read some of these insightful and wise quotes from the Dalai Lama.

Mayne Report video blog

From the archives of The Mayne Report video blog we have added more playlists to this collection of special edition videos. Check out the new News Corp playlist and the Super Ratings Conference speech.

Mayne Report RSS Feeds

The Mayne Report now has RSS feeds for you. We have bundled our best articles into a simple and easy delivery for you. Add an RSS feed to your personal reader, iGoogle, MyYahoo, or blog. It's quick and easy to do and means you're always up to date with the latest Mayne Report activity.

Sign up for Mayne Report Tweets

We have only been twittering for a few months, but now have 1,105 followers and are regularly dropping out the latest developments from AGMs, capital raising plays and even Manningham Council. Sign up below to get the latest updates from all our activity and check out some of the latest tweets:

12.40pm Feb 19: Crikey story today on media mogul skulduggery, plus enjoyed memories of 10 best leaks. See it here in e-book: http://www.maynereport.com/

4.50pm Feb 18: Just back from speech to IT types amongst sharks at Aquarium. Check out this pokies video package: http://video.maynereport.com/pokies.html

10.39am Feb 18: Revealed the Victorian Libs have $58m share portfolio on ABC radio last night, with more in Crikey today.

6.39pm Feb 16: 774 ABC Melbourne discussing Victorian Liberal Party share portfolio http://video.maynereport.com/audio/774_170210.mp3

8.55pm Feb 15: Wow, Seek shares up 7% after profit. Packer blundered selling. They are carving up unis in education biz. Just appointed female director too

6.16pm Feb 15: Edited audio of last week's special council meeting on deputy mayor's $10m nursing home expansion online here: http://www.maynereport.com/

6.09pm Feb 14: About to attend council waste management meeting and check out today's two stories on Crikey's 10th birthday: http://www.maynereport.com/

2.23am Feb 14: Just sent through stories for today's Crikey which will celebrate 10th birthday yesterday. Working until 2.30am is a bit like the old days.

9.12pm Feb 12: Just watched Lauren Jackson score 40 points in a losing Canberra Capitals team as Manningham's Bulleen Boomers seal premiership favouritism.

3.23pm Feb 11: Attended Mark Scott press club lunch, ACDC tonight, plus wrote 2 Crikey yarns on Manninghan and drunk editors: http://www.maynereport.com

2.51pm Feb 9: Rio Tinto have rejected my board nomination after deadline but replaced two directors, so a victory of sorts. Story in today's Crikey.

12.27pm Feb 8: Rio Tinto has "confirmed receipt of facsimile" which hopefully means board tilt is set to go. About to do interview with ASA noms committee.

5.39pm Feb 7: Just lobbed board nomination at Rio Tinto on platform that 1 new non-exec director in two years isn't good enough after all those debacles.

6.23pm Feb 5: ABC Radio National, National Interest program discussing political donations. http://video.maynereport.com/audio/natInt_050210.mp3

7.10pm Feb 3: Exited Platinum Capital SPP for $200 gain and listen to Radio National at 6pm tomorrow night for a 20 minute session on campaign finance.

9.79pm Feb 2: Regular chat on 774 ABC Melbourne discussing News Corp profits and political donations http://video.maynereport.com/audio/774_030210.mp3

7.11pm Feb 2: Struggling a bit today as got home at 3am after most fractious council meeting yet. Far too many inter-jections, motions, divisions etc.

6.23pm Feb 2: Exited 40k Breakaway Resources, CBD Energy and Contango plays with tiny loss overall. Just had good lunch with ex Age editor Andrew Jaspan.

1.36am Feb 1: Just sent out first edition for a month. Plenty of meat. Check it out here: http://www.maynereport.com/articles/2010/01/07-1619-7408.html

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

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