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Full steam ahead despite bikie bust

Full steam ahead despite bikie bust

His son has quit the business and bikies are being busted in front of him but for media salesman Harold Mitchell it's apparently business as usual.

On Wednesday Stuart Mitchell stepped down as deputy chairman of Aegis Media's Australian and New Zealand operations, a post he held since the Mitchell family sold its media buying company Mitchell & Partners to UK-based Aegis a couple of years ago.

The Mitchell family then reaped an estimated $200 million when Aegis was in turn swallowed by Japanese media giant Dentsu in a deal closed in late March.

The impending handover to Dentsu sparked rumours Stuart Mitchell had left the organisation, which his father denied at the time.

Mitchell snr told CBD the handover was "probably partly what brought it [Stuart Mitchell's resignation] all about. At the age of 42 he wants to do something different with his life."

While his son "will probably take a break, which is a good idea", the elder Mitchell is ploughing on as executive chairman of Aegis Australia and New Zealand. "It's a service industry, it's a bit like being a gynaecologist. You try to have a holiday and someone says, 'Don't you know my baby is due?"'

Mitchell had just witnessed the dramatic arrest of the Victorian president of the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle gang in South Melbourne.

Battle-scarred bikie Toby Mitchell - no relation - was picked up by police. "There were police cars screaming in from everywhere," Mitchell (the advertising one) said.

Forget peasants

Seniority has its privileges and if Seven West is any guide one of them is not exchanging pleasantries with the peasantry.

On Wednesday megamogul Kerry Stokes and his new 24-carat consigliere John Alexander turned out along with the Seven West board to enjoy tea and bickies on the top floor balcony of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art with assorted analysts and investors. But they largely left the talking to minions, with the amount of time spent selling the company's "new strategic methodology" of "building leadership in adjacent verticals" apparently inverse to seniority.

Managing director Don Voelte barely troubled the audience for more than five minutes in a marathon two-hour presentation. Voelte did say the company "has identified even more opportunities for improvement". CBD wonders if those areas include Seven's struggling Melbourne news, helmed by former Herald Sun editor Simon Pristel.

Sharing the anger

Wednesday's item about the Takeovers Panel giving the Silman family a rap on the knuckles over goings-on at World Oil has brought angry shareholders in listed cashbox Lemarne Corporation out of the woodwork.

According to the panel, the family snapped up 30 per cent of World Oil without declaring an association or making a takeover bid. It ordered ASIC to seize and sell shares held by the family in excess of the 20 per cent threshold at which a takeover bid must be lodged.

Among findings made by the panel after delving into the family's spaghetti-like business interests was that Ariel Silman's Ariel Nominees was associated with his father Maurice's Rokeba Nominees. By sheer coincidence, last year the same two companies piled into Lemarne, building a combined stake of 30.9 per cent.

Rokeba became a substantial shareholder on September 28, declaring it held 11.16 per cent of the company and Ariel followed suit on October 22 with 19.75 per cent. Ariel Silman didn't return CBD's call to his office.

Lemarne doesn't have a business, having sold off its Malaysian electronics factory in November 2011. That left it with cash of $5.11 million, although by the end of March it had managed to reduce the pile to a more manageable $2.86 million.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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