Beware Tweed and National Exchange

National Exchange makes hundreds of thousands of dollars by offering to buy investors' shares at below-market prices. Proprietor David Tweed, aka Otmar Tschernitz, obtains a company's share registry, does a mass mail-out to its shareholders and relies on confusion and carelessness for acceptances.

Tweed has used this technique most successfully against shareholders in some of Australia's largest listed companies. In an approach to Insurance Australian Group shareholders, he offered $1.60 when the shares were trading at around $2.70. More than 1,600 shareholders accepted and Tweed has pocketed a paper profit of $1.9 million minus costs. He also approached farmers in the midst of the drought with offers between $1.50 and $2.20 per AWB share when they were trading at about $3.40, pocketing about $840,000.

ASIC has received complaints suggesting the behaviour is unethical, taking advantage of less experienced investors. Tweed has also shown himself to be ruthless in pursuing shareholders who accept his offers to pay up. He has taken a number of elderly shareholders to court who have refused to pay after realising their mistake.