Sober speech to the stockbrokers

Sober speech to the stockbrokers

At the Stockbrokers Association of Australia annual conference in Sydney on Thursday, corporate watchdog chairman Greg Medcraft delivered a sterling speech that had the whole crowd remaining in their seats.

Later, CBD's spy, returning from a trip to the Hilton hotel's swanky bathrooms, heard the lament. "Where's my wine?" He turned to see who the poor soul was. It was Greg Medcraft looking flushed.

"What are you looking for?" asked his media manager. "My wine. I left it on a table, I think."

It was just past midday.

However, it was not quite as it might seem: the wine in question was a bottle, unopened - Medcraft's reward for speaking at the event.

Time for a talk

Qantas boss Alan Joyce might want to have a quiet word to Sydney Airport chief Kerrie Mather about her talking points next time they bump into each other in the chairman's lounge.

Mather, who prefers an evolution to a revolution, let slip her thoughts about airline alliances during her turn in front of the brokers.

"Virgin led the march, as you might remember, with the increasing partnerships they were entering into with Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Air New Zealand and Delta," she said.

"And now Qantas has actually followed up recently with their partnership with Emirates, which has seen their partnership with British Airways fall away."

Palmers party

Fans of peripatetic mining magnate Clive Palmer will be relieved to learn that his modestly named Palmer United Party has cleared its first hurdle.

The Australian Electoral Commission has posted the founding documents of the organisation on its website, inviting objection from anyone who feels they've been sold a PUP.

CBD can't see grounds for complaint, as the party offers something for everyone. For the young 'uns, aged 16 to 30, there's the thrill ride of the Young Palmer United Party, while ladies can join the Palmer United Party Women - do they have to bring a plate?

The party is clearly all about family values: its constitution appoints Clive federal president while wife Anna is head of the women's auxiliary and son Michael gets the youth wing.

Clayton's takeover

Private equiteers CHAMP and Headland Capital Partners have denied artificially pushing down the share price of shipping services group Miclyn Express Offshore, of which they own 75 per cent.

They've been able to accumulate the stake without making a takeover bid because even though Miclyn is listed on the ASX it is incorporated in Bermuda,

where Australian corporate law does not apply.

On Thursday, the firms wrote to independent directors Neil Hamilton and George Venardos to complain of "many inaccuracies and baseless assertions" in a letter the directors sent to shareholders on Wednesday.

CHAMP and Headland denied keeping the share price artificially low by announcing last month that they wouldn't buy shares above $2.20, saying these were simply "factual and accurate statements". So that's all right then.

Diverse dollars

Has the falling dollar handed the Lowy family a $42.6 million paper profit? The family's private group, LFG, sold its 7.1 per cent stake in Westfield Retail Trust on March 1 for $663.7 million. At the time, the family said the sale was part of "a broader investment strategy to diversify its investments internationally", so assume the proceeds were turned into US dollars - 681.6 million of them.

With the dollar below parity, that dosh would now buy $706.3 million worth of WRT scrip. Presto, $42.6 million profit!

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