MYOB shareholders bite back. The Age reported today that MYOB shareholders, already miffed at its board’s rejection of a $1.90 private equity bid, are believed to be opposing the decision to hand CEO, Craig Winkler, 1.2 million options at an exercise price of only $1.63. The shareholders are understandably surprised that the company would provide Winkler options at a price which is well below what the board believes to be the underlying value of the company. Long-time MYOB shareholder, Guinness Peat Group was reported to be opposed to the grant. MYOB chair, Simon McKeon, claimed that the opposition was surprising, and that the company didn’t “understand the logic or the precedent or, indeed, the purposes, because this management team has performed very, very well.” One wonders on what basis McKeon was referring to, but MYOB shareholders certainly have not done very very well from their investment. In fact, MYOB shares are still at the level they were way back in 2001 (since then, the All Ords has increased by approximately 71 percent). They are even further down from the lofty heights set during the tech boom when MYOB script fetched $5.50. — Adam Schwab 

A new boss, a new resolve? A press release from ASIC yesterday trumpeted the organisation’s new CEO, John Bligh. “Mr Tony D’Aloisio, Chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), today announced Mr John Bligh, as ASIC’s new Chief Executive Officer. Mr Bligh took up his CEO role in February and was recently also appointed Victorian Regional Commissioner.” What’s that? An after thought? We have a CEO, better tell someone? Appointed in February and announced in April? ASIC moves quickly. Meanwhile, back at Tricom and Opes Prime, the wheels of justice grind very slowly. Will ASIC do something today and announce it in August? — Glenn Dyer

Keep an eye on Stokes. In the end Peter Mansell’s victory over Kerry Stokes in Perth was slightly better than Hillary Clinton’s victory over Barack Obama in Pennsylvania on the same day – 60-40, instead of 55-45 – but the real result is probably the same: everyone loses. The Democratic candidates in the US are killing each other before the main bout with John McCain. In Perth, Kerry Stokes seems to have actually believed he could win the first vote against a board that had threatened to quit en masse if he joined them, so he put on a good show of being the disappointed loser; meanwhile the existing board members now know it’s just a matter of time before Stokes runs them down. — Alan Kohler, Business Spectator

Aussie banks targeted by Chinese money. A secretive Hong Kong-based subsidiary of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, manager of the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, has bought stakes in three of Australia’s largest banks, raising fresh questions about transparency of China’s sovereign wealth investments in international markets. Australia and New Zealand Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia said Hong Kong-registered SAFE Investment Company had bought stakes of less than one per cent in each of the banks. An entity with the same name has taken a stake of about one-third of a per cent in National Australia Bank, people inside NAB reckon. The investments were made in the past two months and built up during several weeks so as not to move the banks’ share prices or trigger any mandatory disclosure requirements, according to an internal report by one of the Australian banks. A banker familiar with SAFE Investment’s activities said the firm had also been looking at similar under-the-radar investments in London. — Financial Times

eBay’s to Craigslist: “See you in court”. The free classified advertising website Craigslist makes much of its disdain for corporate culture – but its unorthodox management has brought it into conflict with one of its biggest shareholders, eBay. Attracting 9bn page views per month, Craigslist has chipped away at newspapers’ advertising revenue since its creation in 1995 and is popular among people searching for anything from apartments and jobs, to pets and furniture or even fleeting sexual encounters. With a staff of just 25, it is estimated to be valued at $US5bn. Hoping to cash in on the site’s success, the on-line auction firm eBay snapped up a 28.4% stake from a former Craigslist employee in 2004. But eBay filed a lawsuit this week accusing Craigslist of unfairly diluting its investment by more than 10% through actions which violate corporate law. — Guardian

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