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Packer bets on Crown while Kloppers rides gravy train

WITH the results season finished, directors' trading on both sides of the fence escalated during the past week.

WITH the results season finished, directors' trading on both sides of the fence escalated during the past week.

Directors doing some buying well and truly trumped the sellers, thanks to James Packer, who spent $48.4 million on Crown shares, and Raymond Barro's interests, which outlaid $13.6 million on Adelaide Brighton scrip.

Packer last bought large quantities of Crown stock in October when he acquired 22.6 million shares at about $8.88. This time his interests paid $8.07. And let's not forget Harold Mitchell, who outlaid $1 million about two months ago.

The overall scorecard registered $69 million to $27 million in favour of buying, but if the two aforementioned gambling and concrete barons were excluded, then sellers were to the fore.

Taking a big hand in the sellers' total were a collection of folk aboard the BHP Billiton gravy train. They collected shares at zero cost under various incentive plans and sold on the market to meet, they said, expected tax obligations.

Chief executive Marius Kloppers led the charge, and they sold more than $16 million of stock.

BHP directors showed up prominently among the buyers chairman Jacques Nasser, Wayne Murdy, Carolyn Hewson, Lindsay Maxsted and Keith Rumble spent about $1.7 million between them.

BHP's policy is that non-executive directors spend at least 25 per cent of their remuneration on scrip until a holding equivalent to a year's fees is achieved. The base fee is about $140,000 a year, with more for sitting on board committees.

Meanwhile, investors who draw comfort when more than one director buys shares in a company had plenty of stocks to consider.

Multiple buying was in Amcor, AP Eagers, APA Group, Breville Group, Downer EDI, Investa Office Fund, Melbourne IT, REVA Medical, Select Harvests, Tassal Group and Transpacific, to name a few.

Among the buyers, merchant banker David Williams bought a 1 million share line of Medical Developments following the release of a strong full-year result.

NovaPort Capital cut its stake to 7.2 per cent and appeared to be the seller.

One director who opened his wallet again was Leonard Bleasel, who was mentioned in dispatches here last week when he bought about $412,000 of QBE scrip.

He switched his attention to natural gas concern APA Group, where he is chairman. He bought $200,000 of scrip, equating to $4 a share.

The reporter owns ABC shares.

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