CBD

Pokies king in winning streak

Pokies king in winning streak

The kerfuffle over a second gambling palace for Sydney may be distracting others, but it has not stopped pokies king Bruce Mathieson extending his winning streak at that other big casino, the stock exchange.

Mathieson's latest punt is a stake in biotech outfit iSonea, where his company Investment Holdings has snapped up 18.59 per cent.

ISonea, which is developing a mobile phone app for monitoring asthma, has been for a bit of a run since April, with its share price soaring from under 10¢ to close at 49¢ on Thursday.

By CBD's calculations, that puts Mathieson $7.42 million ahead on his stake, which was disclosed to the ASX on Monday. Part of that profit comes courtesy of a capital raising last week in which he spent $7 million to buy 20 million shares at 35¢ each. But Mathieson's real jackpot comes from his decision to outlay just $525,000 and snap up 10.5 million shares at just 5¢ each in a November rights issue.

ISonea's bull run has onlookers marvelling. "It's the most remarkable increase in market cap I have seen in a long time," Biotech Daily editor David Langsam told CBD.

Wirth-while?

Judging from the front page of a casino industry publication on Monday, Australia's best-known faceless man, Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes, is back from his holidays.

Howes is stepping out with Qantas spin doctor Olivia Wirth, and one of the benefits of being involved with someone at the flying kangaroo is a whopping 90 per cent off the price of airfares.

So did Howes get a Wirth-while discount on flights to his as-yet-undisclosed holiday destination? Alas, no one was telling on Monday. Howes and Wirth did not return calls to their mobile phones, and a Qantas spokeswoman gave a comment that was about as informative as one of those garbled airport announcements: "Common to most airlines, all Qantas staff can access discounted travel as part of their employment, which can be extended to a limited number of beneficiaries."

Not so stellar

Less than stellar times at Stellar Securities, the Perth stockbroker whose landlord on Monday locked staff out of its office. The man to whom everyone, including CBD, wants to talk is Stellar's managing director, Nathan Barbarich.

Sadly, Barbarich was not answering the phone on Monday, and, ensconced in an east coast office, CBD was too far away from Western Australia simply to drop around to his home and see if anyone was there.

Property records show Barbarich lives a couple of doors down from the beach in Perth suburb Cottesloe, in a home he bought for $1.32 million in 2006.

In addition to the usual mortgage (to NAB), the property is also encumbered by two recent caveats, slapped on it by people who claim Barbarich owes them money.

Sharic Superannuation, controlled by Richard and Sharman Farris of Karrinyup, placed a caveat in April, citing a loan agreement.

Car and equipment finance outfit Morris Finance came out of the woodwork in May, lodging another caveat on the property on the basis of a guarantee allegedly signed by Barbarich.

If Barbarich is not at home, those seeking him might be best off looking out to sea - CBD hears he owns a cigarette boat, a type of high-speed powerboat. Or he might be out on the highway, looking for adventure on his hog - his LinkedIn page boasts that he is a life member of the Harley-Davidson Owners Group.

If Twitter is any guide, one place he would prefer not to be found is in the skies.

Virgin Australia is the "worst airline ever!", one Nathan Barbarich twice tweeted in February.

Qantas copped it in April last year, with its business class slammed for the "worst service ever!".

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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