Total Myer ban sort of fizzles out CBD Ben Butler

Myer might be under siege from internet shopping, but it seems the permanently outraged denizens of social media are unable to stop the store's tills ringing - or can they?

Myer might be under siege from internet shopping, but it seems the permanently outraged denizens of social media are unable to stop the store's tills ringing - or can they?

Chief checkout rooster Bernie Brookes copped a beating from the Twitterati earlier this month after complaining that cash pulled from pockets to help fund a national disability insurance scheme "is something they would have spent with us".

After a torrent of spiky hashtags calling for a boycott, Myer had to issue a grudging apology.

On Wednesday, Brookes was asked if the brouhaha had had any impact on sales.

"We don't believe so," he told reporters.

"I think the week that it was on was Mother's Day. We had a very successful and positive Mother's Day, and that's probably the only indice that we can look at."

However, CBD reckons Bernie might be looking at the wrong page in his diary.

The Twitter mauling erupted on May 2, a Thursday, and Mother's Day was not until Sunday, May 12, more than a week later.

Sans Sherriff note?

Strange goings-on at JPMorgan, where at least one research recommendation has disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle.

The mystery begins on April 24, when analyst Geoff Sherriff issued a scathing report on Miclyn Express Offshore, which makes good coin providing shipping services to the offshore gas and oil industry.

The day before, the private equity groups CHAMP (home to former NSW premier Nick Greiner) and Headland Capital had piled into Micyln shares, buying an additional 8 per cent each and bringing their combined holding to 75 per cent.

They had built their stake without making a takeover bid when they passed the 20 per cent mark. They have also told the ASX that for the next six months they would only buy additional shares if they cost less than the $2.20 they paid for the latest tranche. Oh, and they don't intend to lodge any further substantial shareholder notices.

All this is impossible under Australian company law, but Miclyn is not governed by Australian law. Listed on the ASX, it is incorporated in Bermuda. The private equiteers might look like pirates of the Caribbean to Australian eyes, but under Bermudan law their strategy is perfectly legal. Which brings us back to Sherriff's note, in which he slashed his Miclyn share price target from $2.20 to $2 and downgraded the stock from overweight to neutral "given the uncertainty for minority shareholders".

In the original version of the note, Sherriff said minorities had two options. They could either pop down to the Bermudan courthouse and ask for a ruling on an appropriate takeover price. "Alternatively, institutional shareholders may in the future choose to not support any of CHAMP's private assets that were intended to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange," Sherriff wrote.

Clients who download the note from JPMorgan's website will find a version from which this sentence, which is perilously close to a call to boycott CHAMP, is missing. So who shot the Sherriff?

JPMorgan declined to comment. But the note itself discloses that it was "corrected" on April 30. Apparently, head of research Rob Stanton was away when the note was first published and, when he got back to his desk, he decided the language was too strong.

A fishes circle

Veteran stockbroker Norman John Graham walked free from a Melbourne court on Wednesday despite admitting to his involvement in some very fishy business.

The former Lonsec managing director avoided jail, receiving a $30,000 fine and the best wishes of County Court judge Duncan Allen after pleading guilty to two counts of insider trading.

On February 25, 2010, Graham rang the then CEO of Clean Seas Tuna, Clifford Ashby, to ask what would be in the company's half-year results the next day. Ashby told him all the company's blue-fin tuna fingerlings had died and it was set to declare a loss of more than $10 million.

Next day, Graham stayed home but called work on behalf of two clients to sell 200,000 Clean Seas shares at 21¢. This saved the clients a combined $25,000 because after lunch, Clean Seas told the market about its dead fish and unveiled a $14 million loss, sending its shares plummeting to close the day at 9.1¢.

Judge Allen said Graham had not sold any of his own Clean Seas shares in what was an isolated incident.

He put great weight on "powerful evidence" of Graham's previous good character, including the testimony of a former BT executive, vice-president Steve Newnham.

"Mr Graham, I wish you all the best for the future," Judge Allen said. "I hope you now can put this nightmarish chapter behind you."

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