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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 05:35 GMT 06:35 UK
Bordello shares in high demand
Publicity shot from Daily Planet brothel
The private world of the Daily Planet has gone public

Investors in Australia have rushed to back the country's largest brothel, which has become the first such establishment ever to list on a stock exchange.

The Daily Planet, as the Melbourne-based bordello is known, announced its intention to float last summer after an abortive attempt nine years ago.

But now, after what its chief executive portrayed as a struggle against most of Australia's financial establishment, the company's shares have made their debut, more than doubling in price from an opening level of 50 cents to a close of A$1.09.

"Obviously the price is going to go up," said Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, hired by the brothel to boost its publicity. "It's sex, and everyone knows sex is a smart investment.

Moral crusader

The flotation is small by market standards, raising A$3.75m ($2.4m; 1.5m) from the sale of 7.5 million shares.

The profits wholly and solely from the Daily Planet are derived from room rentals
Andrew Harris, chief executive

It is also the culmination of a delicate set of financial manoeuvres, to make it possible for investors to back the project without getting caught by Australia's Prostitution Control Act, which could mean prosecution for living off immoral earnings.

The Daily Planet's profits "are derived from room rentals", chief executive Andrew Harris explained to BBC World Service Radio.

"We have never taken a cent in 30 years off a working girl," said Mr Harris, who sees his firm as a crusading operation to change public attitudes to prostitution.

"We believe that women have a right to choose what they do with their bodies....We derive our profits from providing a very safe, high market, and high profile establishment in which they can work," he said.

The property in a Melbourne suburb where the Daily Planet has its base - 18 themed rooms, some with spas rather than beds - has been incorporated separately from the brothel itself.

More to come

It is the property arm which has gone public, driven by a promise of a guaranteed 8.4% annual dividend on the back of a room-rate of A$115, paid separately from the tariff for services rendered.

The company now has bigger ideas, planning what it calls a "sex Disneyland" in Sydney, where prostitution has been decriminalised, according to Mr Harris, a "very strong family man" and ex-special forces officer.

The firm also hopes to open outlets in Brazil, Colombia and the US state of Nevada.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Andrew Harris, Daily Planet chief executive
"It is our philosophy that it is a woman's right to do what she likes with her body...."



SEE ALSO:
Australian brothel set to float
22 Jul 02  |  Business
Prostitutes to vote to join union
02 Mar 02  |  England
Red light district for Venice
14 Jan 02  |  Europe
Sex gifts for Australian businessmen
21 Dec 01  |  Asia-Pacific



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