CBD

ANZ's hot spot for the big Asia push

ANZ's hot spot for the big Asia push

Meet the automated teller machine that is the tip of the spear Mike Smith's ANZ is thrusting into Asia.

This humble and slightly grotty box occupies the best piece of ATM real estate in Asia, a location where there is an apparently endless stream of customers, both local and expatriate, hungry for cash and other transactions.

It sits on Singapore's main shopping drag, Orchard Road, on the ground floor of a commercial building that is by day home to a clutch of small retailers but at night comes alive as bars with names such as Bongo Bar and Crazy Horse open their doors.

The building is Orchard Towers, better known as the "four floors of whores".

ANZ has certainly picked the right spot to chase the wealthy - providing customers do not mind walking up escalators that appear not to have operated for quite some time.

Indeed, one of the escalators has been deconstructed, reduced to an impassable dusty mechanical skeleton that encourages plenty of close physical contact on the remaining escalator-turned-stairway.

Business was slow at 11pm on Wednesday night when CBD's deep-cover operative visited, with employees outnumbering patrons - mostly male tourists and business people - in many of the disinfectant-scented bars.

The ATM also provides a fantastic opportunity for ANZ to advertise its presence in Asia to the customers of the Hilton, which is just across the road.

It has lit up the street outside the four floors of pores with signage advertising the ATM - a sign that admittedly is slightly outshone by the one above it, a vast illuminated ad spruiking Naughty G (a delightful "supplement drink for him and her" that boasts ingredients such as Horny Goat Weed and the motto "Work Hard Play Harder").

Absent, however, is the endlessly looping video of CEO Smith that chats to customers at ANZ's second-best Asian ATM, the one next to the baby change room at Hong Kong International Airport.

ANZ: We live in your world, even if your world is a tired, run down shopping mall full of prostitutes and tacky bars.

Baby bonus

Yes, he can. Congratulations to the Commonwealth Bank chief, Ian Narev, who will soon welcome another miniature banker to the family.

CBD understands Narev's wife, Frances, is expecting a third child, possibly as early as next month.

The couple, who live in Sydney, have two daughters.

Can-man Narev has already demonstrated he is able to raise a family on the tiny pile of coins the bank counts out to him every week. The former child actor's base pay this year is a miserly $1.84 million, although there is the tantalising prospect of bonuses worth up to $4.1 million over the next four years if he hits performance targets. That's barely enough for a Bugaboo pram.

It's a far cry from the novelty cheque-sized pay packets of up to $16.15 million that were pulled in by the former boss Ralph Norris.

Bitter pill

Stirrings amid the druggies, with a protest vote against the Mayne Pharma chairman, Roger "the Grocer" Corbett, at the annual meeting of shareholders on Friday.

Three directors, including Corbett, were up for election, and all were duly given the stamp of approval by shareholders.

But while the former National Party pollie Ron Best and new boy Phil Hodges, who joins the board as part of Mayne's acquisition of Metrics, were waved through with a mere 4 million votes against each, Corbett seemed less popular.

Although he was re-elected, Corbett - who is also the chairman of CBD's employer, Fairfax Media - had more than 27 million shares voted against him.

With more than 137.5 million votes for him, this wasn't remotely near enough to unseat the boardroom veteran - but it was enough to be annoying, because it represented about 7.9 per cent of the shares on issue.

With just 5 per cent required to get a shareholder meeting up, the anti-Corbett faction has the option of putting the company to the expense of defending him at a meeting whenever they feel like it.

Oil's not well

Elsewhere, unhappiness continues at the junior miner Golden Gate Petroleum, with the company recording first strike against its remuneration report at its annual meeting on Friday.

About 46 per cent of the shares were voted against the report and shareholders also expressed their dissatisfaction with the director Frank Brophy, with an uncomfortable 44.8 per cent of shares voted against him. The company was also unable to pass a 10 per cent share placement put up for approval as a special resolution.

The executive chairman, Stephen Graves, said he had spent too much time on the company's operations back in Texas and not enough talking to shareholders.

"There's been some poor communication on my part and I'm working on that," he told CBD.

Graves said he had spent a fortnight flying around Australia talking to shareholders before the meeting.

And now?

"I'm flying back to the States to drill a well," he said.

Got an item for CBD?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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