Female directors, Rupert in New York, capital raisings, Guthrie, Rich List, Manningham, JB Hi Fi, SP Ausnet and cracking Cornwalls

October 14, 2010

Dear Mayne Report Readers,

Greetings from Sydney Airport where I'm about to board a Delta flight to New York for tomorrow's News Corp AGM.

However, first up today, the women on boards campaign is hotting up.

We sent this special update to almost 1000 corporate women earlier this week calling for volunteers to help hit the all-bloke boards during this current AGM season.

Whilst Catherine Deveny is yet to volunteer we did warn the JB Hi Fi board at yesterday's AGM that they were vulnerable to a board tilt or consumer boycott call from feral feminists such as Catherine if they didn't end their all male approach to corporate power.

JB Hi Fi has 40% female staff and customers, 20% female store managers and not a single women on the board or mentioned in the annual report as a senior executive.

Chairman Patrick Elliott yesterday claimed this would be turned around, starting with a first ever female director next year.

Yesterday was a double hit as both CSL and JB Hi Fi were questioned on the gender diversity issue at AGMs in Melbourne.

The JB Hi Fi audio will be available here shortly and it was great to see Lateline Business give the issue a good burst in this story last night.

A trip to New York to tackle Rupert Murdoch

It has been too long since our last encounter with the Sun King when so I'm really excited about what the next 48 hours will produce.

It's important not to telegraph too many punches but The Age/SMH ran this item today on the hand written message Bruce Guthrie has written for Rupert in his book, Man Bites Murdoch, which I'll be presenting to the world's most powerful media mogul at the Hudson Theatre at about 1am on Saturday morning Australian time.

Rupert was quite cheerful last time we met in Adelaide, cracking jokes and even apologising for Glenn Milne's drunken assault at the 2006 Walkley Awards. Check out this video of that 2007 Adelaide encounter. If we do get to the stage of the Hudson Theatre armed with nothing more than a copy of the Guthrie book, it will be a much more civilised scene that what the axed former Murdoch hack unleashed at The Walkleys.

All up, it should be a cracking AGM and if you fancy kicking on after a Friday night on the town, the webcast will be available here.

We've also got some exclusive video of our own in this edition. Click here to watch Bruce Guthrie's speech at the launch of Man Bites Murdoch.

And we've got the full Ray Martin speech here too.

* Check out this package detailing our 10 different engagements with Rupert at various shareholder meetings since 1999, including the 2007 shareholder resolution opposing the dual class voting structure which was supported by 60% of the independent shareholders voting $5 billion worth of stock.

Spend $50 for a season's ticket that helps hold Rupert Murdoch to account

The coming weeks will be a very interesting time with the Australian AGM season and the Victorian election but things like flying to New York to tackle Rupert don't come cheap.

The Mayne Report shifted to a free model in early 2009 but we are partially returning to a paid model for the rest of 2010.

Sign up for a $50 AGM season ticket and you will get regular exclusive email updates on the various battles as 1600 Australian public companies hold their AGMs and the Victorian election unfolds.

Subscribers have already been told about some of our targets for the AGM season, action from the AFIC AGM and the hitlist of all male boards that we'd like to engage with.

Before the News Corp AGM starts, a list of topics we intend to pursue will be sent out and there will be an exclusive report after the meeting.

If you'd like to support robust shareholder activism and get an inside look at what should be a fascinating period, click here to purchase your season ticket that will take you through until the end of 2010.

Political forces gather for Brunwick family day

It's now less than 50 days until the Victorian election on November 27 and the politicians were out in force at a family picnic in Brunswick on Sunday afternoon.

We comprehensively covered the issue of SP Ausnet's planned $130 million upgrade of its Brunswick Terminal in our July 23 edition and since then the issues have only got hotter, especially given the surge in support for the Greens.

This part of Brunswick along the Merri Creek would arguably have the most highly educated residents in Melbourne and it also leans strongly Green, so it was no surprise to see Greens Northern Metropolitan MP Greg Barber, plus the party's candidates in Northcote and Brunswick and the sole Darebin Green councillor Trent McCarthy all pressing the flesh yesterday.

McCarthy was very active on Darebin Council persuading his Labor colleagues to agree that the power lines should be buried from Brunswick to Thomastown, emulating the existing Richmond to Brunswick transmission lines which were undergrounded after a big campaign 20 years ago.

Corporate governance campaigner Dean Paatsch was one of the organisers of Sunday's festivities and spoke at the rally along with a range of political figures.

And it was good to see SP Ausnet itself, which is controlled by the Singapore Government, out in force tapping into community opinion.

Cornwall on Abbott and Gillard


Lively time on Manningham City Council

The next few weeks could prove to be highly volatile on Manningham Council after the following rumors reported in our last edition turned out to be true:

Meanwhile, Labor mayor Charles Pick and Cr Reid are now widely tipped to be the Labor candidates for the safe Liberal seats of Doncaster and Bulleen respectively in the coming state election on November 27. We await their formal announcements and wish them all the very best. Candidates in a democracy should always be encouraged to participate in elections and no doubt they wish to join this long list of local government councillors who have sat in Parliaments across the country.

The Labor councillors at Manningham are an eclectic trio. I sent around an email related to a potential conflict of interest involving one of our councillors and received an email back from Cr Downie saying I was "beneath contempt".

Councillor Downie has opposed most of my governance initiatives at Manninghan such as disclosing councillor expenses. She now says it was a mistake to put audio of our council meetings on the website and I suspect she'll also oppose a motion at the October council meeting which would allow residents to ask unscripted oral questions at the start of each council meeting, rather than having to wait until close to midnight to submit written questions.

Rather than railing against calls for improved transparency and attendance to potential conflict of interest issues, it would be much better if Councillor Downie got with the good governance agenda. What's wrong with residents being able to put councillors on the spot through questions. What is there to hide?

Finally, here are the edited audio highlights from the September 28 Manningham council meeting, along with the agenda and minutes.

Supporting a new 25 metre indoor pool

A new long term plan for scouting

Two cracks at unclassified reserves debate

Selling off vacant lots
- full debate

Hoping for support from Cr Reid and Chuah on Ruffey Lake Tea Rooms

Banning feasibility study into Ruffey Lake tea rooms - full debate

Ellis and Mayne endorse news arts policy

A new community engagement policy

Skirmishing with MacMillan and mayor over state debt and investment policy

Three cracks at idea for October motion to allow oral questions from public at start of each meeting

Commending the 2009-10 annual report

Taking the gender debate to the mass media

Click on the screen grab below to watch the 7 minute contribution to a debate in front of 1200 at the Melbourne Town Hall on the question of whether "Feminism has failed":

Read transcript

That contribution led to the following opinion piece appearing in The Age:

Where are all the women?
September 30, 2010

Independents who have served in Australian parliaments

We've built up this new list tracking politicians who have served as independents in Australian state and federal parliaments. All additions and corrections to Stephen@maynereport.com.

The Cornwall collection

Former Fairfax and Crikey cartoonist Mark Cornwall has been contributing to The Mayne Report since March 2009. Here is a collection of his best cartoons and check out his latest animation:

More Cornwall on the Mad Monk



Get on board with the Australian Shareholders Association

I'll be working more closely with the ASA this AGM season, even attending a couple of gatherings as the formal ASA monitor.

There is clearly more impact working in numbers so readers of this newsletter are encouraged to click on the image below and support the ASA.

The big debt issues continue under hung parliament

It was very strange to hear Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens make the following statement during the federal election campaign: "There is virtually no net public debt in the country at all in contrast to much of the developed world."

Whilst Rupert Murdoch's flagship newspaper Down Under, The Australian, loves to beat up on Labor governments irrespective of the facts sometimes, this recent splash pointing out that state government debt is projected to top $240 billion was a worthwhile piece of journalism.

On top of that figure, the Federal Government's own debt management website puts the gross debt figure at $152 billion and the bond issues continue to come as follows since our last edition:

Friday, October 8, 2010: $700m tender of 3 year bonds expiring in May 2013 were sold for an average yield of 4.91% and was over-subscribed 3.5 times.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010: $500m tender of 10 year bonds expiring in April 2020 were sold for an average yield of 5.01% and was over-subscribed 3.6 times.

Friday, October 1, 2010: $850m tender of 4 year bonds expiring in October 2014 were sold for an average yield of 4.92% and was over-subscribed 2.7 times.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010: $500m tender of 9 year bonds expiring in March 2019 were sold for an average yield of 5.03% and was over-subscribed 3 times.

Friday, September 24, 2010: $700m tender of 6 year bonds expiring in June 2016 were sold for an average yield of 4.97% and was over-subscribed 3.1 times.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010: $500m tender of 12 year bonds expiring in July 2022 were sold for an average yield of 5.18% and was over-subscribed 4.2 times.

If anyone needs assistance on the debt questions, this list tracks all bond and treasury note issues by the Labor Government since it was elected in November 2007. However, there are many other variables to measure for a true picture of national solvency. For instance, the massive level of foreign ownership in Australia, as demonstrated by this list, reduces the fiscal flexibility of our public sector.

Cornwall on the Commonwealth Games


The Mayne Report Rich List

BRW magazine does a great 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 began the process of building the list in early 2008 where we had an initial 327 names. Now, after much research, we've got more than 1500 names with those who've fallen back below $10 million italicised. Below are our latest new or updated entries:

Chris Banasik: director of exploration at ASX 300 gold producing and exploration company Silver Lake Resources which operates in Western Australia's Mount Monger and Murchison regions. Held a stake worth almost $10 million in late 2010.

George Batsakis: an executive director and long time senior analyst at JB Were who now owns more than 1% of the equity held through Goldman Sach's Australian equity partnership.

Mark Calderwood:
CEO of Perseus Mining whose stake was worth more than $10 million in late 2010.

Paul Chapman: chairman of ASX 300 gold producing and exploration company Silver Lake Resources which operates in Western Australia's Mount Monger and Murchison regions. Held a stake worth more than $10 million in late 2010.

Mark Clark:
CEO of Regis Resources whose stake was worth more than $10 million in late 2010.

Geoffrey Davis: CEO of Medusa Mining whose stake was worth more than $10 million in late 2010.

Les Davis:
CEO of ASX 300 gold producing and exploration company Silver Lake Resources which operates in Western Australia's Mount Monger and Murchison regions. Held a stake worth almost $10 million in late 2010.

Nick Giorgetta:
chairman of Regis Resources whose stake was worth almost $30 million in late 2010.

Neil Goodwill: the lead Goldman Sachs analyst on Australia's major mining companies who owns almost 1% of the Australian equity held through the partnership structure that emerged after the JB Were takeover.

Tim Goyder: chairman of Chalice Gold Mining whose stake was worth more than $10 million in late 2010.

A mixed time punting the market

Firstly, check out all the trades so far this year. This is how things looked as of August 31, 2010: portfolio of 701 holdings worth $37,806. The overall paper loss is of $7,309 and average holding in the world's biggest small portfolio is now just $54. Below are the latest trades as we further reduced the portfolio, and some of the latest SPP plays:

October 11

Ampella Mining: sold 1,583 at $2.43 in an SPP.
Macarthur Coal: sold 2,656 at $13.20 in an SPP.

October 4
Transfield Services: sold 9,588 at $3.53 in an SPP.

Capital raising plays

October 4
Transfield Services: $30,000 into two entitlements to $15,000 SPP at $3.13. Exited at $3.53 for gain of $3800.

October 11

MacArthur Coal: $30,000 into two cracks at $15,000 SPP at $11.33. Exited at $13.20 for gain of $4900.

October 11
Ampella Mining: $5000 into SPP at $1.95. Scaled back to $3086 and exited at $2.43 for gain of $750.

Offers we're currently committed to

Karoon Gas: $15,000 into SPP at $7 which closes October 20 and trades October 27.

MEC Resources: $8,000 into 1-for-10 entitlement offer at 50c with overs. Closed October 8 and trades October 14.

Mirabella Nickel: $5000 into SPP at $1.60. Closes October 15 and trades after October 19 shareholder approval.

Premium Investors: $7500 into SPP at 5% discount to VWAP. Closed October 8 and trades October 22.

Assessing the capital raising pipeline

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

Central Petroleum: $15,000 SPP at 0.86c which closes November 3 and trades November 12.

CFS Retail: $15,000 SPP at $1.86 after placement which closes November 18.

Gryphon Minerals: $15,000 SPP at $1.25 after placement. Closes October 21 and trades November 1.

QRxPharma: $15,000 SPP at 85c after placement with timing still to be released.

Queensland Rail: retail offer capped at $2.80 with guaranteed 10c discount to institutional. Closes November 12 and trades November 22.

Spark Infrastructure: two cracks at 2-for-7 entitlement offer at $1 with overs. Closes October 21 and trades late October.

Venture Minerals: SPP of at least $5000 at 44c after recent placement with details to come.

Wide Bay Australia: $15,000 SPP at $9.67 after placement. Closes October 22 and trades November 1.

Donate to help keep us going

The Mayne Report costs almost $100,000 a year to run so if you fancy giving us a hand to help fund our activism and keep us going on the political and AGM circuit, just click on the image below:

From the press room

Here are a selection of recent media mentions and engagements:

The Australian
You too can be a millionaire mogul - go for it
Mark Day, October 11, 2010

The Age
Where are all the women?
September 30, 2010


Mayne: fun and games with Manningham's Labor faction
Thursday, September 30 2010


774 ABC Melbourne - discussing the Rio leak and women on boards.
Wednesday, October 6

ABC News Radio - discussing Rio Tinto leak about dropping Pinjarra joint deal with BHP.
Wednesday, October 6

ABC News Radio - discussing the demise of the landline, and Telstra.
Wednesday, September 29

774 ABC Melbourne - discussing women on boards, 1st question time and Telstra with Libby Gore.
Wednesday, September 29

774 ABC Melbourne - discussing the rising $A, Westpac, the off-field performance of the incumbent grand finalists and David Jones with Lindy Burns.
Wednesday, September 22

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

More gems from Mark Cornwall

Ship owners and other tales from the talk circuit

We gave the notoriously inefficient Maritime Union of Australia a bit of a spray in a recent key note address to the Australian Shipowners Association. We covered it here in the last edition. We have since received the below correspondance:


I understand that you made some very interesting remarks at the recent Australian Shipowners Association seminar. Unfortunately I was not able to get to the seminar myself.
However I thought that you might like to look at the submission that AIMPE made to the Federal Government before the August election on the question of the re-write of the Navigation Act. Also you might like to check out our website where we are running our ‘Red ensign campaign' to Rebuild Australian Shipping:

Happy to discuss.

Industry Participant

Sign up for campaign and governance Tweets

Click on the image above to join more than 2400 followers on Twitter. Here are some of the more recent Tweets:

4.32pm October 12: The Labor Mayor has told our local paper I'm "Manningham's Mark Latham". Might be time to launch a few Lathamesque sprays about ALP hacks.

4.27pm October 12: Was summonsed to Toorak for lunch with my 82yo benefactor today and she handed over $US200 in cash for Friday's News Corp AGM in NYC. Sweet!

12.38pm October 12: Just back from launch of "Man Bites Murdoch". Have got a cracking signed message from Bruce Guthrie to deliver to Rupert at Friday's AGM.

2.01pm October 11: Cracking piece by Mike Pascoe 2day on mutual privatisation ripoffs: http://www.smh.com.au/business/how-to-steal-a-mutual-20101011-16eca.html

12.29pm October 11: Emailed this to almost 1000 corporate women seeking help during AGM season: http://www.maynereport.com/articles/2010/10/01-2211-1028.html

12.14pm October 11: Exited MacArthur Coal and Ampella Mining SPPs today for gross gain of $5700 - a much needed win to help fund AGM season and Vic election.

7.17pm October 10: Pollies aplenty at picnic protest on SP Ausnet's $130m Brunswick power upgrade. Chatted to 6 candidates/MPs/councillors + saw K Thompson.

6.20pm October 9: Just reworked the list ranking the top 100 female non-executive directors on ASX listed companies. See: http://www.maynereport.com/

6.27pm October 8: lovely lunch at Kellybrook Winery with my wonderful bride on our 10th wedding anniversary. Now off to dinner with the kids before kicking on.

6.13pm October 7: Enjoyed watching last day of Victorian upper house in the 56th parliament for 2 hours this afternoon. Lots of friendly banter going around.

2.01pm October 7: Is anyone else getting sick of all this Collingwood coverage - good and bad. This obsession with AFL in Melbourne is getting out of hand.

7.55am October 7: Really good turn up at The Phoenix last night for 20th anniversary re-union of the closure of The Sun which Rupert merged with The Herald.

1.05pm October 6: Just bought 2 pairs of RM Williams pants for New York trip next week where will see News Corp director and RM Williams owner Ken Cowley.

12.35pm October 6: Video nailing the women on boards argument in front of 1200 women: http://wheelercentre.com/videos/video/feminism-has-failed-stephen-mayne/

6.25am October 6: Just interviewed on News Radio on Michael West's fabulous Rio board leak yarn in SMH that it is ditching $120bn BHP iron ore JV in Pilbara.

4.25pm October 5: Just sent out subscriber edition on AFIC and News AGMs, questions at council meetings and $8m gain we helped land for Transfield holders.

1.37pm October 5: Vale former Telstra CEO Mel Ward who died last week. Heard him at women directors function recently say "every board has at least one dud".

10.27pm October 4: Attended Darebin Council meeting tonight. The 8 Labor lads didn't enjoy question about Darebin being one of Melbourne's blokiest councils.

1.11pm October 4: Good result with Transfield SPP delivers $3800 gain - best play in 2010. Attended AFIC AGM this morning and subscriber edition by 4.30pm.

2.17pm October 1: Edited audio highlights from Tuesday's council meeting now available here: http://www.maynereport.com/articles/2010/09/30-1737-8900.html

11.34am October 1: ConnectEast is holding Nov 9 AGM at Manningham Council offices. Thank you chair Tony Shepherd, us councillors will give you a warm welcome.

4.28pm September 30: Big reaction on email to this lead opinion piece in The Age today slamming lack of women in top corporate roles: http://www.maynereport.com/

10.01am September 28: Asked a few governance and disclosure questions at Banyule City Council meeting last night. Liberal mayor Wayne Philips ducked and weaved.

10.27pm September 27: All those moaning about News Ltd on Q&A should come along to the News Corp AGM in New York on October 15 and ask Mr Murdoch some questions.

9.39pm September 27: Surely ch7 will have to sack "Mr Mark" after duplicitous Today Tonight beat up on Delhi bomb. Good fodder for AGM given Seven's poor record.

4.31pm September 27: Doing an opinion piece for The Age about women on boards after big Melbourne Town Hall debate last week. Good cause with good momentum.

5.33pm September 23: ASX chair David Gonski just called. Told him won't be attending ASX AGM next Tuesday in Sydney due to speaking commitment to Gong winners.

3.04pm September 23: Just back from Crown after Essendon FC comedy debate in front of 1000. First time back on the stage where Glenn Milne did the big shove.

2.17pm September 22: David Jones delivers record $171m profit and 108 pages of ASX material without a single mention of Mark McInnes. Shoppers don't seem to care

9.13pm September 21: Sent out big email edition covering our Murdoch AGM in NY, Manningham politics, women on boards, lists and much more http://urlm.in/fpss

6.01pm September 21:Crikey yarn 2day on Murdoch censorship about News exec pay after Herald Sun digs on public service bonuses. See http://www.maynereport.com/

3.30pm September 21: Attended Labor-run Darebin council meeting last night and politely challenged them during public QT to improve governance & transparency.

1.49pm September 21: Hot tip that Manningham's Labor mayor Charles Pick to run in Doncaster in Vic election and Labor cr Ivan Reid to run in Bulleen. Is it true?

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is a multi-media governance website published by shareholder activist, local government councillor and Crikey founder Stephen Mayne with regular email editions. To unsubscribe from the free emails click here.