Home World Business The financial smash is almost complete for billionaires James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch...

The financial smash is almost complete for billionaires James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch and Gina Rinehart at Network Ten


Network Ten shares have hit record low, after record low, following last week’s half year result but it might still have surprised a few people that the entire business is not worth much more than a James Packer‘s pre-nup deal with former wife Erica. 

Don’t let the 23c share price fool you, Ten did a 10:1 share consolidation early last year. Without that, the stock would now be trading as a penny dreadful at 2.3c.

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Ten Network reports $232 million loss

The free-to-air broadcaster is pinning its future on securing a new $250 million loan.

It is a long way from October 2010 when a buccaneering Packer swooped on an 18 per cent stake, buying 186 million shares at $1.50.

That’s a cool $244 million. Yes, that hurts even taking into account that he hand balled half this stake to Lachlan Murdoch within weeks.

Gina Rinehart made a splash at the 2012 Ten AGM Gina Rinehart made a splash at the 2012 Ten AGM Photo: Nic Walker

Gina Rinehart then waded in, paying around $157 million for her stake.   

That’s $400 million worth of shares that have a current market value of less than $10 million. And this does not include the significant top ups which followed, like the highly dilutive December 2012 rights issue.  

And CBD could not even begin to calculate how much money has been torched by the other billionaire at the table, Bruce Gordon.

To be fair though, even some analysts – who should have known better – could not pick Ten’s incredible decline even two years ago. 

On the face of it, Ten is probably worth more dead than alive. But the usual rules of finance don't apply for the ... On the face of it, Ten is probably worth more dead than alive. But the usual rules of finance don’t apply for the network and its mogul backers. 

The media team at Morgan Stanley finally gave up on their glass half full view of Ten Network after its latest result and issued an embarrassing mea culpa. 

“We have been Underweight 4 of the 5 TV shares in our Australia coverage universe for the past two years … Ten was our only positive view, but we were wrong … with the benefit of hindsight we should have been bearish on it too.” 

CBD has been responsible for far too many embarrassing prognostications over the years to mention the names of the analysts in question.   

Dough Doh!

It’s a tough gig trying to run a business and pay your staff correctly in Australia. 

That’s the excuse given by baking chain Baker’s Delight in what appears to be a belated response to Fairfax media revelations that it is one of many business franchise operations that have been woefully underpaying staff.

Elise Gillespie, who runs the business which is owned by her family, told The Australian that the baker has now finished replacing the WorkChoice’s era awards it was using – which slashed penalty rates and paid as little as $8 an hour – with its modern equivalent.

“We still undertake audits annually to ensure our franchisees are compliant. It is so complicated paying staff in Australia,” said Elsie, who denied the change related to the Fairfax reports.

The company was “not trying to screw over our franchisees for the sake of growing our bottom line”, she said. The report did not say what prompted the sudden change after 11 years of using the John Howard-era award. 

Coincidentally, Caltex announced it has set up a $20 million assistance fund for workers who were underpaid at its franchised service stations.

The company made the announcement to the ASX on Monday morning, following months of attacks from its franchisees who say Caltex’s franchise model is unprofitable, and claims by workers that underpayment was entrenched among some store networks. 

Go Gary Go 

The good news is that Haoma, the gold mining alchemist majority owned by pollster and serial Melbourne mayor candidate, Gary Morgan, has narrowed its financial loss for the March quarter to a $1.19 million loss before tax.  

For the half year it reported a $2.375 million loss – down from a $3.84 million loss the prior first half – with revenue rocketing to $472,000. This time last year, its reported revenue was less than $100,000. 

Morgan will be praying the trend is his friend given the auditors reported, once again, that the company is not likely to survive without Morgan’s continued financial support. 

And Morgan’s fortunes are not likely to amount to much – if his significant investment in Haoma comes to nought. 

At last count, he is owed just under $68 million in debt and unpaid interest from his financial support of the gold miner – up from $64 million this time last year.

His financial sacrifices included the sale and leaseback of the Roy Morgan HQ on Melbourne’s Collins Street, to a consortium that included members of Melbourne’s wealthy Liberman family.

It did not end well. A dispute led to Gary and his team being locked out of their offices just before Christmas 2015 and Roy Morgan has only just found new accommodation with a friendlier landlord.  

Follow CBD on Twitter. Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au


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