Siimon leaps back out from his box

Siimon leaps back out from his box

Legendary adman Siimon "The Grim Reaper" Reynolds is to make his triumphant return as a director of an ASX-listed company when, if all goes to plan, telco Inabox Group lists at the end of the month.

The Photon Group founder has signed on as chairman of Inabox, which wholesales telco services to boutique operators, in return for a modest stipend of $100,000 a year.

That's great value at just an eighth of Inabox's 2012 profit of $800,000. By way of comparison, the chairman of the $47 billion Australian Super fund, currently Heather Ridout, gets about $161,000.

Reynolds' tidy package also indicates Telstra chairman Catherine Livingstone is terribly underpaid. His pay is about 0.22 per cent of Inabox's $45.7 million revenue for 2012, and applying the same ratio to Telstra's mammoth takings indicates Livingstone should be on $50 million a year. She gets a miserly $684,000.

Let's hope Inabox does better than Photon, which in 2010 nearly tumbled like one of the people slain by the reaper in Reynolds' famous 80s AIDS ad - except in Photon's case it was escaping not a bowling ball but $450 million in debt. Of course, by then Reynolds had been out of the company for three years, having moved on to a second career as a self-help guru.

Back to Inabox, which is trying to sell 17 per cent of the company to punters for $2.9 million, valuing it at $16.2 million.

According to the prospectus, profit for the first half of the 2013 financial year was a bumper $1 million - but the company warned that because of "seasonality and other factors including an increase in staff numbers" the second half "is unlikely to produce the same level of profitability".

And as of December 31, liabilities outweighed assets by $2.5 million.

If punters put up $2.9 million that would fill the hole nicely. Except, of course, for the entirely reasonable $700,000 in fund-raising costs to be paid to sponsoring broker Shaw Stockbroking, accountants Ernst & Young and others.

PS: CBD consiidered doubliing every "i' iin this iitem but as thiis paragraph iindicates thiis iis extremely iiriitatiing.

Goldies rush in

Rolling Stone may have described Goldman Sachs as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money", but problems at developer Becton indicate it might after all be made up of fallible humans.

Goldies spent $100 million buying Becton's debt and has so far recovered about $40 million in interest repayments. Becton went into receivership in February and is now looking to realise the company's remaining assets - six retirement villages and two developments in Sydney, a partly-built housing project in Waterloo and a social housing PPP in Bonnyrigg.

However, the company is in breach of its obligations at Bonnyrigg and it looks like the project has a Becton-free future.

That leaves the retirement villages - difficult to sell at the best of times - and the Waterloo project, which Goldies will have to build out before it can get a sale away.

GS can apparently just build the first half of the project, which will take about a year.

CBD is unsure how much Becton's assets are worth, but to get any value the vampire squid is going to be sticking around - and spending money - for a while.

CEO rocking on

Former Jetstar boss Bruce Buchanan has been in touch to clarify that he was never the CEO of potions outfit Vanessa Megan, as CBD reported on Tuesday. He was only ever an adviser.

CBD was confused by a post on Vanessa Megan's Facebook page in May last year welcoming Buchanan as "one of the youngest and most revered CEOs in Australia today".

It was Buchanan's wife, Liz, who was to be CEO, but she stepped down at the end of last year for personal reasons and the couple sold their half of the company back to its founder, actor Vanessa Gray. "We sold the shares back to Vanessa on very amicable terms," Buchanan told CBD. "I'm still helping Vanessa out wherever I can. I still love the product."

As for Rocklive, the digital marketing outfit where Buchanan is boss, he reckons business has increased sixfold since he took charge in November. "In July we'll start our New Zealand and Singapore businesses." A push into the US is to follow.

Coppo the tip

Nightowls would have been watching the Dow Jones index late on Tuesday to see if the head of Goldman Sachs' insto dealing desk, Richard Coppleson's prediction of a US stock rally comes true.

On Monday, Coppo used his famously multi-coloured afternoon markets report to point out that the Dow "has rallied for the last 18 Tuesdays in a row". The stat may tang of the irrelevant figures TV sports commentators pluck from their screens during a lull in play, but CBD is afraid to argue given Coppleson correctly predicted a Dow rebound on Monday night following a shocker on Friday.

Having a go

Also putting their reps on the line on Tuesday were Australia's market economists, who dutifully stumped up estimates of what Glenn Stevens and the Reserve Bank crew would do to official interest rates at lunchtime.

Last month just eight of 29 tea-leaf readers surveyed by Bloomberg correctly picked a rate cut from the slurry, but this time only Macquarie Research got it wrong by plumping for a cut. The remaining 25 live to fight another month after picking no change.

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