The Fairfax press was comprehensively scooped today as The Australian and the Herald Sun
together produced stories revealing Steve Vizard’s secret trading
vehicle, Creative Technology Investments, bought and sold shares in
another five companies in which he was likely to have possessed
sensitive information.

The Australian’sfront page story
was the clearest cut, explaining how Vizard bought $150,000 worth of
shares in The Seven Network at $5.31 a piece in December 1999 when
British television production company Granada Media was negotiating to
pay a premium for a 9.1% stake.

Granada had previously paid an excessive $25 million for Vizard’s
Artist Services and was proposing a merger with Seven’s production
operations to stem the losses. Vizard was chairman of Granada Australia
and also chaired the Granada-Seven joint venture vehicle so he
presumably was well across the negotiations.

Two months later in February 2000, Granada announced its $148 million
investment at $6 a share and this significant vote of confidence in
Kerry Stokes’s leadership sent Seven shares soaring 25c to $5.78 on the
day it was announced.

The Herald Sun revelations were equally interesting, revealing
that Vizard bought into PMP, ERG and two American companies, Exodus and
Extant, all of which had dealings with Telstra, ranging from joint
ventures to the telco buying a 20% stake..

The stories are based on ASIC documents presented to the Federal Court
which seems curious because Vizard only plea-bargained on the dealings
in Computershare, Keycorp and Sausage. Therefore, it looks like ASIC
felt they potentially had eight cases against Vizard which would have
carried a maximum fine of $1.6 million, based on $200,000 for each
offence.

There is now absolutely no doubt about it, that Steve Vizard was a
serial inside trader and his ducking, weaving, lying and negotiating to
stay out of jail is an outrage.

Peter Fray

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