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Sellers trump buyers, with Computershare to the fore

TURNOVER values declined on the directors' trades front this week, with sellers trumping those doing some buying.

TURNOVER values declined on the directors' trades front this week, with sellers trumping those doing some buying.

The scorecard registered $18.5 million to $4.6 million in favour of sellers and once again Computershare was prominent.

Chairman Christopher Morris continued to peel off stock and taking the place of his sister Penelope Maclagan as a seller was Stuart Crosby who was appointed chief executive six years ago.

Crosby, who many moons ago used to work at the stock exchange, has done very nicely indeed since joining Morris and co more than 12 years ago, and was paid $3.3 million for the latest year, which included $1.9 million of scrip-based payments.

The other day Crosby exercised some of his performance rights and collected 700,000 shares and he then sold 420,000 of them at $7.22 apiece.

Morris continues to sell shares and he has raised $5 million since earlier in the month. Computershare scrip has declined about 40 per cent since hitting nearly $12.90 in April last year.

Elsewhere in the exercise-and-sell department was Lachlan McKeough, who runs that exceptional performer Austbrokers Holdings, which has interests in insurance brokers and underwriting agencies. This week he exercised options at $2 and $3.47 a share and sold the resulting shares at $6.15.

Other chief executives who sold shares included Louis Gries of James Hardie Industries, with proceeds of $2.7 million, while Dominic Stevens over at Challenger collected nearly $1.9 million.

Meanwhile, on the buying front, Samuel Morgan topped the table with a $1 million-plus purchase of Fairfax Media scrip.

He sold Trade Me, an online transaction site to Fairfax in 2006. A non-executive director, he paid about 77? a share and boosted his stake nearly ninefold.

Fairfax managing director Gregory Hywood bought $100,000 worth of stock at the end of August.

Among other buyers, Ian Rodwell, the founder of Adcorp Australia and now a non-executive director, continued to soak up shares in the advertising agency and website design and development group.

The group reported a much improved June year result and the shares are fetching some 4 times pre-tax earnings.

Also nibbling away was Laurence Freedman, the chairman of Phoslock Water Solutions, a water technologies concern. Freedman founded funds manager Equitilink, which he sold in 2000.

The buying helped boost Freedman's stake in Phoslock by about 1 per cent to 17.7 per cent.

Phoslock, valued by the market at about $13 million, booked sales of $1.7 million in the latest year and lost money.

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