CBD

Talk about clipping the ticket. At its full-year results briefing on Thursday, Transurban's top brass were quizzed about the toll collector's sizeable jump in corporate costs from $31 million to $41 million for the year.

Talk about clipping the ticket. At its full-year results briefing on Thursday, Transurban's top brass were quizzed about the toll collector's sizeable jump in corporate costs from $31 million to $41 million for the year.

Chief bean counter Samantha Mostyn was a bit sheepish when she conceded that payments to former chief executive Chris Lynch accounted for half the increase in costs.

Lynch, the former BHP exec who is now CFO at Rio Tinto, got almost $6.9 million for his last days in the top job. He left Transurban in July last year.

Most of his rewards - $6.1 million worth - were share-based benefits. The year before, Lynch received a $7.3 million pay package.

Transurban's customers may be used to paying through the nose to travel Melbourne's CityLink and a clutch of tunnels and roads in Sydney, but shareholders repeatedly arced up when it came to paying the Lynch toll.

All of which makes the pay packet of his successor, Scott Charlton, look a tad modest - even though it's no small whack. He received a total package of $4.1 million in the year to June.

A sure forecast

It's fashionable to mock Treasury's forecasting record. But here's one prediction that's bound to come true: one of two former Treasury economists is about to be wrong.

One, senator Arthur Sinodinos, is the Coalition's deregulation spokesman and a former chief of staff to John Howard. The other, Andrew Leigh, a Labor MP in Canberra, is a former ANU economist and was seconded briefly to Treasury before entering politics.

Appearing as a double act before economics students on Wednesday night, the pugilistic pair struck a pact: if the Coalition wins and two out of three economic variables improve in the first year, Andrew will donate $100 to charity. If Labor wins and they improve, Arthur will cough up. The numbers to watch are GDP, trend unemployment and standard variable mortgage rates.

No echo of Tinkler

Sydney Mining Club chairman Julian Malnic reckons the last time a keynote speaker stood up guests at one of its lunches was when the Where's Wally of mining, Nathan Tinkler, was supposed to speak.

So, sighs of relief on Thursday when Paul Flynn, the recently elected head of former Tinkler plaything Whitehaven Coal, turned up to have a chat about life after Nathan. According to one of CBD's spies, Whitehaven has moved on so thoroughly from the Tinkler era that not a word about the Singapore-resident former electrician passed Flynn's lips.

Big giveaway

Dick Smith may be your dad's favourite electronics retailer, but according to the company's new private equity parents, it's full of money-making opportunities. That was the message CEO Nick Abboud wanted journalists to take away on Wednesday night at the launch of his new basement store in Sydney's Westfield centre.

As champagne flowed, he assured hacks Anchorage Capital had plenty of "cash in the bank" to revive the chain. While no profit figures were given, the company's bag of giveaways, full of curious gadgets, provides a hint. CBD reckons the bundle of goodies has a recommended retail price of well over $100 - even if most can be bought more cheaply online.

Where's Westpac?

Banks love it when customers use online banking rather than coming into the branch and cluttering up the place. Sadly, customers of Gail Kelly's Westpac who've taken the message to heart were rewarded on Wednesday with an online service that went down at about 10am and was still NQR at 5.30pm. "We sincerely apologise to customers for this interruption and will continue to provide regular updates," Westpac spokesman Danny John said.

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bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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