Hear no weevil, speak no evil . . .
Weevils, feng shui and plunging sales: more details of Tony Ferguson Weight Management's belly-flop have emerged (see CBD, Wednesday).
CBD has been told the company, which sold weight-loss shakes, soups and meals through chemists, had to recall one product earlier this year because of potential weevil contamination.
It is said sales had slumped, from about $70 million in 2009 to about $20 million last financial year. And there are unconfirmed reports that expenses were big-boned, with the company lashing out on a feng shui consultant to rearrange the office.
The seven companies in the group are now in the hands of administrator Adam Farnsworth, who declined to talk to CBD.
In a statement, he said the group was continuing to trade, and its directors - Tony Ferguson, Barry Smorgon and John Tisdale - were considering cooking up a deed of company arrangement to regain control of the group. It's the attitude of Smorgon that will be crucial. Sources say he got his 49 per cent shareholding as part of a rescue deal in 2011 that saw him take equity in return for forgiving money owed because his company Jalco was the group's main supplier.
Clients of Nicholas Moore's Macquarie Group may soon have a new government agency overseeing their correspondence with the millionaires factory: the US National Security Agency.
CBD has heard that to try to slash costs Macquarie wants to ditch its email servers and move to the Gmail service provided by tax-dodging tech behemoth Google.
In addition to its habit of not paying much tax, Google has also been revealed as one of the main sources for the NSA's no-longer-secret data hoover Prism.
While no customer email has yet been committed to Google's porous servers, sources say that for
about six weeks several senior executives have been experiencing the joys of Gmail in a test environment.
That means clients are not yet having their financial secrets pored over by spooks - unlike hacks at BusinessDay owner Fairfax Media, which moved to Gmail last year.
It had $2.5 million in the bank last time anyone counted, but that has not stopped listed cash box Lemarne Corporation being thrown out of its office on busy Punt Road after the rent wasn't paid. Lemarne shared its registered address with several companies associated with Ariel Silman, a Melbourne businessman who, with his father, owns 30 per cent of the company.
According to a notice plastered on the door by the landlord, a Silman company, Global Constructive Solutions, holds the lease but has not paid the rent since June 3. The locks were changed on Friday, presenting yet another headache for new chairman Darren Olney-Fraser.
After a call from CBD on Wednesday, Olney-Fraser changed the company's registered address to his city office. Although he was appointed on August 13, he does not yet have his hands on the books and records of the company, which were last seen at the Punt Road office. "These are the things I've been brought in as an independent chairman to fix and I'm fixing them one at a time," he said.
However, he said he had secured Lemarne's only asset, its cash pile.
"I changed the bank account signatories the day I was appointed," he said.
Big navy blue
New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell is keeping up the barrage in his attempts to stop PM Kevin Rudd moving navy ships from Sydney to Brisbane. "While Kevin Rudd's trying to stop the boats, I'm trying to keep them in Sydney Harbour," O'Farrell told an Australia-China Business Week function on Wednesday. (BusinessDay is a sponsor.)
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