Paper tiger loses its bite and boss

Mission accomplished! The PaperlinX chief executive, Toby Marchant, announced his resignation yesterday and signalled that the disaster-prone paper merchant had "reached a major turning point" as its shares slumped to a new low of 4?.

Mission accomplished! The PaperlinX chief executive, Toby Marchant, announced his resignation yesterday and signalled that the disaster-prone paper merchant had "reached a major turning point" as its shares slumped to a new low of 4?.

Marchant, who was appointed chief executive in November 2010 when PaperlinX shares were trading above 40? each, explained in a statement: "We have reached a major turning point in the transformation of PaperlinX, and the board and I have agreed that it is an opportune moment for me to step down as chief executive."

Marchant announced his departure along with the announcement that PaperlinX had offloaded its operations in Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and South Africa for less than $30 million. A far cry from nine years ago when PaperlinX spent $1.3 billion on its biggest offshore push by buying the paper merchanting division of Buhrmann. PaperlinX shares have since dipped about 99 per cent.

When Paperlinx made the Buhrmann acquisition in 2003, the then managing director, Ian Wightwick, boasted: "This business has great potential and we are confident that the acquisition will deliver strong earnings per share growth for out shareholders." PaperlinX is now valued at $25 million on the sharemarket.

Protest can do

Finally. A group of citizens have voiced their concerns about the future of Fairfax Media in the lobby of the media company's Sydney headquarters.

The dozen protesters from the "grassroots" group CANdo yesterday offered some ideas on how Fairfax could lift its share price.

Led by the CANdo executive director, Jai Martinkovits, some members of the group were carrying placards reading "Gina Can Do It".

It is believed this was in reference to Fairfax shareholder and mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, who has been pushing to get three seats on the media company's board.

"They've handed editorial control over to a journalist collective, who have turned these once great journals of record into mouthpieces for the vegan, bicycle-riding, inner city elites who are completely out of touch with mainstream Australia," lamented the CANdo website.

The "centre-right" group was originally established by the Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to counter the rise of the pinko latte-sipping group GetUp.

The radio announcer Alan Jones is the patron-in-chief of the group, while the monarchist David Flint is its chairman.

"Without a great Australian patriot like Gina Rinehart, the future of Fairfax Media looks pretty bleak," notes the CANdo website.

Connectivity on tap

The liquid-related traditions of stockbroking have come under further assault with the Australian Securities Exchange's promotion of its new Australian Liquidity Centre in Sydney's Gore Hill.

In the good old days, any ASX-related liquidity centre would have had at least four beers on tap. But in a major shock to the local market, an ASX has revealed the ALC has no relation to the serving of alcohol nor promotion of long liquid lunches.

"ASX offers customer connectivity between external domestic sites and the ALC via its low latency fibre network," the centre brochure says. It appears the ALC is merely a data centre rather than a pub.

Just a minute

The Yellow Brick Road founder Mark Bouris appeared to be suffering from a mild case of writer's block yesterday.

"I need some help for my weekend column," the Celebrity Apprentice host tweeted late yesterday in reference to his weekly column that appears in The Sun-Herald.

"Tell me, what do you think is the BEST thing about the Australian economy right now?"

Bouris could always cut and paste the minutes that were released yesterday from the Reserve Bank's board meeting early this month.

Honour in ethics

Former Perpetual boss David Deverall has either taken the high moral ground or is just keen for a job, going by an announcement by the ethical fund manager Hunter Hall International yesterday.

Deverall was named as the group's new chief executive, with his $450,000 base salary less than half the fixed remuneration he used to get at Perpetual.

Deverall in a statement said he was "honoured" in taking the role.

"Ethical investing has emerged as the preferred approach to investment for many individuals and superannuation funds and Hunter Hall has shown tremendous leadership in this category," Deverall reasoned.

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