Another takeover bid encounters problems

THE publicity surrounding the takeover suitor for David Jones, EB Private Equity, has overshadowed another private equity outfit with credibility issues closer to home.

THE publicity surrounding the takeover suitor for David Jones, EB Private Equity, has overshadowed another private equity outfit with credibility issues closer to home.

About two years since announcing its intentions to launch a $6.5 billion takeover bid for the now-listed QR National (aka Queensland Rail), World Equity Pty Ltd has bitten the dust.

"We're very serious and committed about this," was the last comment CBD gleaned from World Equity's founder, Nir Turner, in 2010 about his plans to buy out the then Queensland government-owned rail haulage company.

But the private equity outfit has come unstuck over a beverage bill. World Equity was placed into liquidation in May, after a wind-up order was lodged in the New South Wales Supreme Court over an unpaid $80,000 bill.

"We had a client who was supplying them with beverages," confirmed Daniel Dunsford from the Mosman finance outfit AR Cash Flow about a former client that itself was in the hands of insolvency practitioners. The beverages in question were energy drinks.

At least World Equity's website is still going strong. The group says its "primary objective is the acquisition, development and implementation of global assets of interest".

CBD was unable to get hold of Turner, whose old mobile phone number no longer seems to be in service. World Equity's liquidator, Jirsch Sutherland's Andrew Spring, said getting hold of Turner had "proven to be quite difficult".

Hale and Hardie

THE US housing market appears to be well and truly in recovery mode, especially if you are the chief executive of James Hardie.

The fibre cement maker disclosed in its accounts lodged to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that Louis Gries enjoyed a 24 per cent jump in total remuneration to $US9.44 million ($A9.2 million) in the year to March 31.

While Gries received a modest $US956,825 in base pay, he enjoyed a more than doubling in short-term bonuses to $US1.96 million.

Gries was helped along by $US6.3 million in share-based payments. Hardie also helped cover the tax bill stemming from Gries' vested options when the company was still based in Holland.

The Hardie boss also helped pay a few bills in the past year by offloading some shares. He has had about $7 million worth of restricted stock units and options vest in the past 12 months.

Gries, if "terminated", is entitled to 18 months' base pay and 1? times his average short-term bonus for the three previous financial years. That, on CBD's calculations, would currently be worth about $US3.7 million.

New challenge

THE financial services company Challenger Limited appears so desperate to attract controversy that it issued a media release yesterday titled "Challenger courts controversy with new ad campaign".

But the new advertisements only appear contentious to those on the fringes of society, such as fund managers or financial planners.

The media release said the adverts would include "basic financial mathematics to get under the skin of some of the retirement truths laid bare".

Our man Clive

NATIONAL living treasure, mining entrepreneur of the decade, professor and billionaire Clive Palmer showed he was still a man of the people yesterday when he announced he would not seek preselection to run against treasurer Wayne Swan in the Brisbane seat of Lilley in the next federal election.

But Palmer said he would still seek another seat in Federal Parliament given his popularity.

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