CBD

Rich family trust is quite touching

Rich family trust is quite touching

Former Everest Babcock & Brown chief executive Jeremy Reid is banned from providing financial services to ordinary folk, but it seems some of Australia's richest families are happy to let him look after a slice of their fortunes.

On Thursday Reid, who is besties with media mogul Kerry Stokes' son Ryan, agreed to cop a two-year ban from the financial services industry relating to his dealings with the Everest Babcock & Brown Income Fund.

In January 2008 nervous fund members wanted to make withdrawals totalling $34 million. However, Reid family redemptions were approved first, with $5 million going to Reid's father- in-law, Steven Eckowitz, and $4 million to Reid and his wife, Tammi. In October that year, the fund was frozen.

In an enforceable undertaking with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Reid "acknowledges" the watchdog's "concerns" that his behaviour may have breached the Corporations Act. But it seems the wealthy investors in Reid's web-based consumer sampling outfit, PINCHme, are happy to trust him with their dough. While it's been known since PINCHme was launched in January that the Stokes family had a stake, some of the other investors have kept a lower profile.

Until now.

CBD can reveal the full roll-call of rich Australians backing the venture.

Stokes vehicle Australian Capital Equity holds 6.25 per cent. Ad agency Droga5, whose presence on the share register was also known, holds 5 per cent.

It was no secret that Melbourne's Liberman family had a stake, but CBD can reveal that Josh Liberman holds a whopping 12.5 per cent of the company.

The Smorgons, who had also previously been named, have a more modest 0.9 per cent stake.

Previously unknown investors are Charter Hall co-founder Cedric Fuchs and his family, with 0.3 per cent, Sydney's Seder family, with 0.6 per cent, and Melbourne's Mobila family, who hold almost 1.9 per cent.

Then there's the Oroton boys, Ross and Tom Lane, who have a combined stake of about 2.2 per cent, and, for old time's sake, former Everest Babcock & Brown board member Trevor Gerber with 0.3 per cent. Tammi Reid holds the remaining 70 per cent.

For the sake of family wealth in Australia, CBD hopes PINCHme fares better than Everest Babcock & Brown.

Canine caper

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly; and so doth Virgin Australia returneth to Richard Branson's old PR stunts. On Monday, the Branson-affiliated Virgin Australia will unveil its latest escapade: a frequent-flyer program for pets.

Although Sir Dick may no longer dominate the airline's shareholder register, his thinking still does. The idea is eight years old - 56 doggie years - having first been wheeled out by Virgin Atlantic in 2005.

Celebrity vet Chris Brown, last seen in Dubai for the launch of Qantas' tie-up with Emirates in March, will be the public face of Virgin's attempt to boost its Velocity loyalty program.

Plank for board

Rig the mainsail! Hoist the colours! The battle for Buccaneer Energy is to be decided by shareholders in Sydney on Tuesday. On Friday, two Singaporean investors, who own about 8.7 per cent of the company and want to tip out the board, said they complained to ASIC and the ASX that shareholders were in the dark about the terms of a loan of $9.9 million the company had taken out. Managing director Dean Gallegos returned cannon fire. "They were party to the original disclosure and agreed to the press release, because it had to be pre-approved," he told CBD.

And, also on Friday, the incumbent board announced it had plenty of booty after raising more than $19 million by selling 19.99 per cent of the company to Meridian Capital International Fund.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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