How Vizard pocketed $1.1m gazumping Telstra
Steve Vizard’s spin doctors claim he lost $335,000 on the trades involving Sausage Software, Computershare and Keycorp – but this isn’t full story. What about the clear $1.1 million profit that Vizard made through his dealings with Multiemedia, which was indirectly related to one of his Telstra conflicts of interest? Knowing that Telstra was negotiating […]
Knowing that Telstra was negotiating with the AFL for internet rights, Sportsview – a company owned by Steve Vizard, Eddie McGuire and Stuart Simson – snapped up exclusive internet rights with four AFL clubs, Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs. Then they sold a 22.6% stake in Sportsview to listed dotcom company Multiemedia, as you can see from the heads of agreement announcement and the final agreement revealed on 21 February, 2000.
Multiemedia paid $1.2 million in cash and three million shares, which at the time were trading at about $1 each, as you can see from this graph. This valued the whole of Sportsview at $18.58 million and Vizard, Simson and McGuire each held shares worth almost $5 million – largely due to the AFL club internet site deals which Vizard knew (as a Telstra director) that Telstra was chasing. Vizard had also signed up the MCC website for Sportsview, which presented another conflict of interest because he was a member of the MCC committee.
Vizard became a director of Multiemedia on 1 March 2000, and you really should read the announcement for a walk down memory lane about dotcom boomspeak, including some big claims about links with Computershare, one of the other companies Vizard was insider trading on.
Vizard was lured on to the Multiemedia board with 4.5 million options exercisable at 20c each, and these were in the money to the tune of $2.7 million on day one. It's against the law to issue options or shares to a director without shareholder approval, so Multiemedia simply issued the options the day before Vizard joined the board, as you can see from this announcement on 29 February 2000.
He exercised 2.25 million options on 2 March 2000, the day after joining the board, but the vague announcement doesn't reveal that it was Vizard spending $450,000 on the stake. Vizard then secretly sold the entire stake between 7 and 9 March, raising about $1.55 million and clearing a profit of $1.1 million. It was on also on 7 March 2000 that Vizard tipped $500,000 into Sausage Software after being told about the pending merger with Solution 6.
Maybe he was embarrassed about this because he then breached the ASX rules by failing to disclose the exercise and sale of the options for more than five months. Check out this embarrassing apology and late disclosure lodged with the ASX on 22 August 2000. The man doing the apologising is Greg Lay, the accountant who ran the Creative Technology Investments insider deals and reportedly refused to testify in any criminal action against Steve Vizard.
The whole episode only came about because Vizard gazumped his own board at Telstra by snapping up the internet rights to four AFL clubs, flicked these to a dotcom company, extracted a separate lucrative options package to join its board and then dumped the stake without telling the market. It really is breathtaking corporate immorality and provides an insight into the man who, as one former business partner said yesterday, "ran one too many orange lights." We think he meant red lights.