Love! Exciting and new

Backslappers unite at BHP lovefest

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It all felt a little like an episode of The Love Boat on Wednesday when BHP Billiton announced the retirement of the chief executive Marius Kloppers and the elevation of the former BP and Rio Tinto man Andrew Mackenzie to the top gig.

The chairman, Jac Nasser, gave Mackenzie a warm welcome to kick off the hour-long press conference, saying he had "congratulated him several times this morning".

"I don't tire of hearing it," Mackenzie said.

After praising Mackenzie some more, Nasser warned: "I don't want you to get too big a head here."

Nasser also had kind words for the "transformational" leadership of Kloppers, who apparently leaves BHP a "stronger, safer and better company".

Kloppers praised Mackenzie ("the guy who I will go to for advice about my kids") and Mackenzie in turn praised Kloppers.

"This has been a great succession process," Mackenzie said. "Of course, I'm a bit biased given the outcome."

All that bonhomie apparently left no time to mention that BHP's first-half profit, announced at the same time as the changeover of chief executive, plummeted 57.8 per cent to $4.24 billion.

Gallop catches up

SPOTTED on Tuesday morning in the Qantas Club, nose deep in the newspapers as he waited for the delayed QF408 morning shuttle from Melbourne back to Sydney: the Football Federation Australia chief executive, David Gallop.

Gallop, the former boss of the trouble-prone NRL, seemed to be very much enjoying reading all about the tanking saga gripping rival code the AFL.

It must have been more fun than reading about suspicious betting plunges on round-ball matches or the endless sex scandals that plague NRL clubs.

Calling all Greens

THE Greens have been left hunting for fresh shoots after a call for members willing to stand at the federal election came up short.

In an email to members on Tuesday, the convener of the party's Victorian western metropolitan campaign committee, Simon Crawford, extended the nomination period for three safe Labor seats - Gorton, Maribyrnong and Gellibrand - until March 4, "due to the fact that no nominations have currently been received for those electorates".

With the Greens no longer besties with the ALP, running a candidate in every seat is no doubt of more importance than usual.

The Wyndham branch campaign co-ordinator Bro Sheffield-Brotherton told CBD nominations were initially open for only a couple of weeks starting in late January and it was not unusual to have to reopen the process.

He said the party already had a nomination for the other western metropolitan seat, Lalor, and had run candidates in every federal seat for three or four elections.

"It would be a disaster if we didn't field a candidate in every electorate," he said. "If you don't run, you can't get any votes."

And would he nominate? "Oh God, no, I've done it twice before."

ASIC the wowser

IT IS to be a little Venice on the coast of China, a slice of Shandong turned into a Gold Coast-style maze of canals, apartment blocks and high rises.

But Xing Hongtao's elaborate dream has hit a snag, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission kyboshing his bid to list his property development group on the ASX.

Xing, of Hebei province, had hoped to float his property development and education businesses in a back-door listing involving a complex group of companies in China, Hong Kong and Vanuatu.

The business has three projects - the waterfront development in Weihai, Shandong, another estate inland at Langfang, a satellite city of Beijing, and a school next to the Langfang project.

Sponsoring broker Novus Capital was to raise up to $8 million from punters, who would have ended up with 25 per cent of the company. Xing would have ended up with 66 per cent in return for his Vanuatuan vehicle selling the Hong Kong company that owns his mainland interests into ASX-listed shell Iatia.

CBD understands ASIC, which has been giving extra scrutiny to Chinese listings in recent months, has yet to give Iatia's people its reasons for issuing a permanent stop order on Friday.

However, several passages in the prospectus (prepared by executives and lawyers in mainland China) raised eyebrows.

It turns out that so far Xing has rights only to develop less than half the land involved, with acquisition of the rest to be financed "through proceeds from pre-sale, loans from financial institutions and Onwide Group's resources".

In addition, under Chinese law the educational business cannot be directly owned by Iatia, which was instead to control it through contracts with mainlanders.

It also seems Iatia would have needed to find $10.4 million within two years to buy out two of Xing's partners.

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