CBD

The massive power of supermarket duopoly Woolworths and Coles is respected and feared as far away as Hollywood, as evidenced by the fact it formed a string of hilarious punchlines on Monday night for US actor Jason Alexander, who is best known for playing George on hit TV show Seinfeld.

The massive power of supermarket duopoly Woolworths and Coles is respected and feared as far away as Hollywood, as evidenced by the fact it formed a string of hilarious punchlines on Monday night for US actor Jason Alexander, who is best known for playing George on hit TV show Seinfeld.

Alexander was the surprise MC for the IGA Retailer of the Year awards on the Gold Coast, and wowed the 1000-strong audience with his singing ability, knowledge of Australian politics and perfectly targeted zingers at Woolies' and Coles' expense.

Sure, he was preaching to the converted - the independent retailers who make up IGA battle it out with the grocery gorillas every day - but Alexander's jokes had them rolling in the supermarket aisles.

Alexander burst on stage singing a song about how he loves IGA, adding, "because they pay me to feel that way", and calling Woolies and Coles assholes. He then launched into a schtick about how awful the competition was, saying Woolworths stood for the "wool" being pulled over people's eyes so they couldn't tell the "worth" of the groceries they were buying. Then followed a horse meat joke CBD's lawyers probably wouldn't allow us to repeat.

Coles came next. Why, if Coles wants to be known for "fresh" food, Alexander asked, did it employ an ageing 1960s rock group to appear in its TV ads? He then had a go at Coles' "big red hand" that appears in its ads.

"It's stupid. Who does most of the shopping? Women. I don't think women want to see men with giant swollen hands pointing at their yahoos going 'down, down, down'."

Alexander later in the night held hands on stage with the chairman of IGA Global, Dr Thomas Haggai, (a former preacher, not that there's anything wrong with that).

When told IGA would be opening in Papua New Guinea, Alexander quipped that the Australian government would be sending plenty of customers their way soon.

Eclairs taste sour

The mysterious Ukrainian billionaire who took over Consolidated Minerals after a torrid stoush in 2008 is up to more corporate shenanigans, this time in London town.

Gennady Bogolyubov won the battle of ConsMin by outbidding a consortium fronted by former BHP boss Brian Gilbertson.

During the stoush, it emerged that some of a 17.7 per cent stake in ConsMin held by ING in the Ukraine belonged to interests associated with Bogolyubov's business partner, Igor Kolomoisky.

The pair own the Ukraine's largest commercial banker, the aptly named PrivatBank, and run their global business interests through a dizzying array of companies and trusts based in exciting jurisdictions including Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and what was until recently the favoured tax haven of businessmen hailing from the former Soviet republics, Cyprus.

Now, through BVI-registered Eclairs Group, Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky are making a tilt for the board of LSE-listed JKX Oil & Gas, which is fracking for shale gas in the Ukraine.

Eclairs owns 27.5 per cent of JKX but despite the company's name, JKX directors find its presence on their share register anything but sweet.

In late May, JKX barred Eclairs and 11 per cent shareholder Glengary Overseas, which is supporting Eclairs' board push, from voting at an AGM in June, citing concerns about possible arrangements between Eclairs and Glengary.

Glengary, which is also registered in the BVI, is controlled by Alexander Zhukov, whose daughter Dasha is reportedly the partner of Russian megamogul Roman Abramovich.

Eclairs has now gone to the High Court of England in an effort to get its votes counted, with an initial hearing held on Monday.

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bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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