CBD

Fortescue chary on Mozambique

Fortescue chary on Mozambique

So much for sovereign risk. Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest's Fortescue Metals opposed the federal government's mining tax in all its incarnations, taking the battle all the way to the High Court (and losing).

The original tax announced by once and future PM Kevin Rudd was "probably the worst hit to sovereign risk I've seen in all my life", Forrest told the ABC in 2010.

So, given Fortescue's craving for stability, it's only logical that the company should start up a brand new subsidiary, African Fortescue, in, er, Mozambique.

Racked by bloody civil war between 1977 and 1992, Mozambique is the only country in the world to feature on its national flag that well-known symbol of peace, the AK-47 automatic rifle.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Mozambique also suffers from high rates of AIDS, illiteracy and poverty, and is dependent on foreign aid for 40 per cent of its government budget.

Fortescue CEO Nev Power was coy about the purpose of the company. "It's just part of our forward scouting on exploration. We have a long-term interest in developing resources around the globe, so we do set up companies and so on to allow that to occur in the future," he said.

Man on a mission

Who was that bloke struggling to wrest his luggage from an unco-operative carousel at Melbourne Airport on Thursday morning?

CBD's spies reckon it was helicopter-crashing, hitman-hiring and sugardaddyforme.com using former bankrupt, jailbird, giver of misleading evidence and struck-off doctor Geoffrey Edelsten, fresh off an international flight.

Back from a quick tour of his overseas investments, which reportedly include hotels, restaurants and a casino in the Dominican Republic? Or was he advising offshore moguls on how to set up chains of medical clinics?

CBD has emailed to ask but Edelsten has yet to respond.

Whatever the reason, the great man appeared to be flying solo, with no sign of dazzling wife and reality TV star Brynne.

Forced exit?

Did the move into the Sydney CBD by Mirvac's nemesis, Winston Sammut, prompt the sudden departure of the group's chairman, James MacKenzie?

Earlier this month, CBD revealed that MacKenzie was looking to take a three-month sabbatical - which has now it seems turned into a permanent goodbye.

Sammut launched his attack on MacKenzie a year ago, focusing on the way Mirvac dumped CEO Nick Collishaw in favour of new head Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz. At last year's fiery AGM, Sammut, from Maxim Asset Management, said up to 13 per cent of shareholders were unhappy with the way Collishaw's exit was handled and communicated to shareholders. (It was suggested that Mirvac started looking for a new CEO way before Collishaw was told.)

Sammut was not alone, with investors including Andrew Parsons at Resolution Capital saying that MacKenzie should have considered stepping down given that some of the earnings and strategic weakness, for which Collishaw copped the blame, happened on the chairman's watch.

At the same meeting the board pooh-poohed Sammut's claims that MacKenzie's $400,000-a-year pay packet was too big, saying it was no more bulging than those of his ASX peers.

REITs' rates

Speaking of payments, it seems real estate investment trusts still know how to reward their directors. Freshly released 2012-13 annual reports show that Dexus head Darren Steinberg was paid a total package of $3.7 million, while the former head of FKP Property, Peter Brown, received $914,808 for his work up until retirement in September 2012.

Stockland's former CEO, Matthew Quinn, left last December after trousering a total package of $2.9 million, which included a $650,000 bonus. His replacement, Mark Steinert, is on a total package of $1.19 million.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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