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The law student trying to stop the sale of Network Ten

by September 28, 2017 General

The sale of Network Ten to US broadcasting titan CBS has been strewn with obstacles as media moguls Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon attempt to thwart the deal.

But it’s not just the big end of town giving Ten’s administrators KordaMentha a headache.

On Wednesday another opponent emerged from an unlikely quarter: Macquarie University law student Yunfeng Du, the owner of a modest parcel of shares in Ten, appeared in the NSW Supreme Court to voice his opposition to the sale.

KordaMentha is seeking approval from the court to transfer Ten’s shares to CBS.

Mr Du, who told the court he was a final year Juris Doctor student, was a surprise addition to the usual suspects in court.

He represented himself at the bar table and argued the administrators’ proposed hearing date of October 31 was “too early for all shareholders to … prepare our case”.

Mr Du told reporters after the hearing that he had a small stake in the company: about 34,000 shares.

Justice Ashley Black said he had to engage in a “balancing exercise” in recognising the “commercial urgency” of the matter as well as giving all parties an opportunity to be heard.

He said the October 31 hearing date was “perhaps an ambitious timetable” but could be workable depending on the nature of any objections to the deal.

He listed the matter tentatively for a three-day hearing starting on that day.

Murdoch jnr and Gordon are still considering their options after Ten shareholders voted last week to approve the sale of the company to CBS.

Their companies may appear as parties to the proceedings slated for the end of October.

Mr Du told reporters after the hearing that he had a small stake in the company: about 34,000 shares.

Law students in the greater Sydney area with shares in Ten may also be considering their options.

Kingmaker pollie

Kiwi kingmaker pollie Winston Peters might have gone fishing to clear his mind over whether he sides with the Nats or Labour to form a new government, but it hasn’t stopped him taking a spray at Fonterra milkman Theo Spierings‘ $8.32 million paycheck for 2017.

But he will be earning some of the cash after Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy cooperative and a major exporter, lodged a bid for the Australia’s largest dairy processor the troubled Murray Goulburn.

Fonterra, which is already attracting dairy farmers away from Murray Goulburn and rapidly increasing its Australian milk supply, confirmed it had thrown its hat into the ring as a buyer as it released its annual results for fiscal 2017 on Monday.

The bid was made on Monday, the same day as Fonterra’s annual result was released, which revealed Spierings was paid a base salary of $2.463 million, benefits of $170,036, short-term incentive pay of $1.832 million and long-term incentive pay of $3.855 million.

“Is this corporate New Zealand? Fat-cat payouts for doing their day job,” Peters bellowed, according to the NZ Herald.

“Shareholders need to be reminded that their payout of $6.52 per kilogram of milksolids this season is well under what they got in real terms for the final two seasons before Mr Spierings came onto the management scene.”

Peters also took a swing at Fonterra’s investment in Beingmate Baby & Child Food, the unprofitable Chinese infant formula producer and distributor that sells Fonterra’s Anmum formula in China.

“Fonterra shareholders have seen the value of that stake almost halve over the past two and a half years – in excess of $300 million,” Peters said.

“This kind of fat-cat payout is why shareholders need to be given a say on pay. Shareholders need to be given the power to hold the directors and bosses to account,” Peters told the fishes.

Cromwell cash

Speaking of remuneration, Cronwell Corp’s chief executive Paul Weightman must be feeling like an umpire under pressure on Grand Final day.

Having had a swipe at Investa Office Fund, but with no formal offer was forthcoming, the group this week had to pull its planned $1.7 billion Singapore float.

It’s a tough gig in the real estate investment trust world where everyone knows everyone’s business. Talk about pressure.

But at least Weightman is compensated, according to the group’s 2017 annual report. 

He took home a total salary of $3.8 million, which is deemed reasonably modest when compared to his peers, which included a base pay of $1.8 million with a $1.4 million “at risk cash bonus” as well as super and long service leave payments.