Former flyboy to digital magnate

Former flyboy to digital magnate

Congratulations to Australia's newest mini media mogul, former Qantas flyboy Geoff Dixon.

In somewhat embarrassing circumstances, Dixon has come into 30 per cent of Facilitate Digital, a "leading global provider of integrated digital marketing solutions" (whatever that means) run by his son Ben.

In addition to being on the company's board, Dixon snr is on the hook for $1.5 million to pay for the parcel of shares because he underwrote Facilitate's rights issue, which sadly fell slightly short last week when shareholders took up 25.3 million of the 85.7 million shares on offer.

Perhaps punters lost faith in the company's products, even if they do "establish taxonomies", have a "vendor agnostic integration layer" and offer "configurable naming convention management".

Or perhaps investors took fright after reading the all-too-comprehensible half-yearly report Facilitate filed with the ASX in February, which revealed revenue had slumped by a third, pushing the company into a loss, and it was relying on a tax refund to remain a going concern.

None of Dixon snr's planes crashed while he was boss of the flying kangaroo and, according to Dixon jnr, Facilitate won't be going down either.

"The company has a bright future," he told the ASX as he announced the rights issue last month.

Turnbull's tango

It was nosebags on for freedom on Friday night when media and corporate types came together for the annual Press Freedom Dinner at Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull and shadow attorney-general George Brandis were in attendance but there was no announcement of any new Liberal Party policies to protect journalists from rich and powerful types who try to silence critical coverage.

However, Turnbull did provide the talking point of the night when he took the stage to give an enthusiastic, if impromptu speech, extolling Fairfax Media's investigative reporter Kate McClymont, who was the night's advertised speaker.

As Turnbull rambled through the virtues of the fourth estate, it was remembered when - as an investment banker, lawyer and republican - he was more likely to be unhappy with the no doubt unfair coverage dished out to him by press reptiles.

The best line came from one veteran media figure, who said: "There goes Malcolm auditioning for the Labor leadership again."

As for McClymont, she was sold off in a fund-raising auction, with the winner getting dinner for eight and Kate at ritzy Sydney noshery Tetsuya's. AMP paid $4500 for the privilege.

Red ragging

The release of ANZ's half-year results last week brought chief executive and globe-trotting man of mystery Mike Smith back to Australia for a brief visit, but his heart apparently remains in Asia.

At an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Melbourne on Friday, Smith was waxing lyrical on the merits of China's Communist Party leaders.

He said one thing that had always amazed him about the Chinese leadership was the calibre of people who got to the senior positions. "If you think about it, the CCP has 80 million people and it is fundamentally a meritocracy.

"If you are in the top 20 of an 80-million-person organisation, you've probably got to have something about you."

Having traversed the glories of Red China, Smith turned his attention to the state of politics in capitalist Australia.

"The best and brightest people in China want to go into the government; it is just like Australia," he said.

Judging from the thunderous laughter from the audience, CBD suspects Smith was being slightly sarcastic.

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