Michael Kroger quit the Liberal Party just days before his Liberal reform ticket in Victoria went down in a screaming heap. But his emitch shares are worth about $50 million, although the greed factor has caused much tension in Michael’s coterie of mates.
Crikey hears there is trouble in paradise over who actually got shares in the emitch float two weeks back, with a few senior Liberals and other Mates of Michael Kroger feeling very pissed off.
However, we do hear that a couple of MPs scored shares – possibly in their spouses’ names. There were certainly some former MPs on the register with defeated Victorian Liberal Minister Vin Heffernan collecting 200,000 of the 50c shares, 100,000 of which have already been sold for about $3 a pop.
The Age’s Christopher Webb remains one of the few business journalists who bothers to read through share registers these days and has come up with a couple of corker stories on the emitch float.
After first revealing a Who’s Who of politics, business and media had made killings on the float, Webby this week followed up with detail on who had stagged the offering and pocketed quick profits.
It seems Kerry Packer’s private vehicle Consolidated Press tipped out 2.24 million shares, pocketing a cash profit of about $7 million. That’s all money that should have gone to PBL (owned 35 per cent by Kerry) or its listed offshoot ecorp (owned 28 per cent by Kerry) and something we’ll be raising at the PBL and ecorp AGMs in November. When is someone else in the media going to pick up on this issue of Kerry pocketing the best investments for himself, leaving the second best option for his listed companies.
Others to post quick emitch profits include Solomon Lew who made about $600,000 selling his 200,000 shares. Graham Richardson, like Kroger a Packer political fixer, also tipped out his 50,000 shares and Ten Network chief executive John McAlpine has reduced his holding from 200,000 to 100,000. This will be an interesting issue to pursue at the Ten AGM. Why did the CEO get any shares when it is the network that was meant to be making the strategic investment.
Poor old Jeff Kennett only got 8,000 shares and has already sold them. At least he didn’t stick them in his wife’s name. Then again, at least his candidates got up at the Liberal state council in an apparent defeat for Peter Costello and Michael Kroger. There is widespread speculation that this is why Kroger resigned from the Liberal Party midweek. He could see the writing on the wall. The break up of the first Kroger marriage has apparently caused some tension in the Costello friendship so it will be interesting to see if Kroger remains the man doing Costello’s numbers when the inevitably run at John Howard’s job takes place.
And why did Village Roadshow chief executive Graham Burke get 78,690 emitch shares when it is the media company that should have been making the strategic investment. Put that one down to be raised up at Movie World for the next Village AGM.
As a subscriber to Investorweb’s excellent $400 a year Diamond Membership, their allocation of 100,000 shares also looks interesting. Investorweb is currently flogging 7.5 million shares to its members in a new float. So what is the policy here? When do Investorweb’s allocations get taken by Investorweb and when do they get allocated to its customers.
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It is the same issue which blackens the name of outfits such as Macquarie Bank. When Macquarie gets a hot float such as Transurban, large chunks of the lucrative stock was pocketed by their executives at the expense of clients, Crikey included. This is going to be one of the crusades that we will pursue when shareowner.com.au is launched in May. We are going to out stockbrokers that don’t ban the house or their own staff from taking up shares in a hot new float when they should be going to clients.
One person who will be reveling in the newfound wealth of Michael Kroger is his father-in-law Andrew Peacock who apparently left Washington in search of a more financially rewarding career. Andrew’s best mate Jeff Kennett may not find it as easy as Kroger, Nick Greiner and Federal Liberal Party Treasurer Ron Walker to get seriously rich but have no doubt, they will together give it their best shot.