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Ailing invalid finally put to rest

Valad Property Group's (aka Invalid) chairman, Trevor Gerber, was philosophical yesterday when it came to sentimentalising about the company which has reported more than $1.7 billion of losses over the past three years and seen its security price crash 96 per cent.

Valad Property Group's (aka Invalid) chairman, Trevor Gerber, was philosophical yesterday when it came to sentimentalising about the company which has reported more than $1.7 billion of losses over the past three years and seen its security price crash 96 per cent.

"One can dwell on the past but clearly the future is all that's relevant," explained Gerber at a meeting of shareholders.

This was in response to one long-suffering investor lamenting about the lack of any dividend payments from the property concern.

Before security holders finally agreed to put Invalid out of its misery by approving a $1.80 per security takeover proposal by Blackstone Real Estate, Gerber noted how "the history of the company is quite long and convoluted".

"We have laboured as hard as we possibly can to try and create the best possible value outcome for security holders," Gerber said about the $207 million takeover bid, which was a 35 per cent discount to the group's net asset value.

"We have had no sacred cows," the Invalid chairman added.

Before the meeting wrapped up, Gerber thanked staff for dealing with "very difficult circumstances".

His final tribute went to his fellow directors, who he said could "have cut and run" but instead "stayed the course".

But Invalid shareholders will never know how much Gerber and his board were paid in the 2011 financial year for "staying the course". Invalid will never have to lodge a remuneration report thanks to the takeover getting the green light.

In the year to June 30, 2010, fees paid to Gerber more than doubled to $680,000. Invalid's deputy chairman Robert Seidler saw his fees nearly triple to $451,667 for the period.

TICKING BOXES

At the start of the meeting Gerber also provided one snippet of advice to security holders planning to lodge a vote. "Make sure you tick all the boxes otherwise your vote will be Invalid," Gerber said. Sadly, the company known as Invalid never managed to tick many boxes for its security holders.

BEAR NECESSITIES

The former Macquarie banker and QBE director John Green seems to have found a fan in the US political satirist PJ O'Rourke.

One year since being described by O'Rourke as the next Michael Crichton on the cover of his first novel Nowhere Man, Green has managed to get another plug from the US writer. Green's second book, Born to Run, has been described by O'Rourke as "a spectacular political thriller ... it kept me up nights".

But aside from blurbs, Green told CBD that O'Rourke even offered one correction after reading the manuscript of the novel. The US writer pointed out that the region of America mentioned in the novel where a grizzly bear appeared was actually inhabited by black bears.

Described as an "edge-of-your-seat political thriller, action packed with terrorism, treason and murder", the story centres around the US presidential hopeful Isabel Diaz.

Diaz's campaign stumbles when one of her Muslim proteges is accused of diverting funds to terrorists. It also sees an Australian software engineer thrown off a London skyscraper. And then a terrorist attack on New York City using software stolen from the murdered Australian.

The book, which hit the stands yesterday, will be officially launched by the former NSW premier Bob Carr at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival on Friday.

LITTLE AND A LOT

The former federal Nationals leader Mark Vaile is probably not regretting his decision to bow out of politics after the Coalition's loss to Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election.

Vaile is arguably one of the few ex-Coalition politicians to have done better in the corporate sphere during the financial crisis, thanks to his shareholding in the Nathan Tinkler-founded coalminer Aston Resources.

Since listing at $5.96 a share in August last year, shares in Aston, of which Vaile is chairman, have nearly doubled in value. They hit a new high of $11.36 yesterday, taking the value of Vaile's 1.7 million shares in it to $19.9 million.

Vaile's stakes in the other companies on which he has a board seat are relatively paltry. His stake in CBD Energy, of which he is also chairman, is worth $25,156 and his stake in Virgin Australia, of which he is a director, is worth about $8700.

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