Fund and games for the managers
By · 17 Oct 2013
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17 Oct 2013
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More than 500 hard-working fund managers in charge of our super funds will get together later on Thursday for some back-slapping and friendly ribbing, when they congregate at ASX on Pyrmont (aka Star City) for the annual Australian Fund Manager Awards.

Having been at Doltone House for two years, CBD wonders whether the fact the new chairman of the Australian Fund Management Foundation, Charlie Lancaster, who was until recently at Perpetual, was the reason for the move back to the casino venue.

While Lancaster left Perpetual last month, the fund manager happened to also be sitting on a large swag of Echo Entertainment scrip.

This year's winners will have big boots to fill, after physicist turned fund manager Simon Marais, at Allen Gray (formerly Orbis) was the winner of last year's Human Headline Award, having featured in media stories about twice as often as any other manager.

Initially a dark horse, Dr Marais outstripped the likes of former Perpetual colleagues Matt Williams and John Sevior to claim top spot in the 2012 gongs.

Dr Marais joined a select club of past winners, including Winston Sammut and Paul Xiradis.

Gone surfing

The dog days of the northern summer seem to be nearing an end for at least one of Australia's "Big Three" surfwear brands.

In a near-wipeout, Billabong, Quiksilver and Rip Curl have all flirted with disaster of some kind in in 2013. Billabong lost $860 million last financial year and ditched some long-term executives.

Over at Quiksilver times are only marginally better. It suffered growing losses for five quarters in a row and is rolling out a restructure of the business on a global scale.

But what about the boys at Rip Curl? We all know the owners and founders want out but in March abandoned a planned $400 million sale. The woes of their rivals made the market for boardies, boards and wetsuits a little tough. So what have they done? Well, gone surfing, of course. CBD is reliably informed that the entire senior management team of Rip Curl is "in meetings" on the Mentawai Islands of northern Sumatra, one of the world's greatest and most remote surf spots. The week-long trip has seen management and sales get together to bond over a few waves.

Saga's sunset

Sunland has abandoned its High Court bid to overturn a series of damning rulings against it over a Dubai waterfront property deal. The Gold Coast developer, whose arguments in the case were blasted as "hopeless" and "groundless" by the Victorian Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, announced an 11th-hour backdown late Wednesday. The move signals an end to a battle over the fall-out from the $63 million deal that saw Australians Matt Joyce and Angus Reed (in absentia) found guilty of fraud and sentenced to 10 years' jail in Dubai. Another Aussie, Marcus Lee, is under house arrest in the Gulf state.

Reed has claimed the result as conclusive victory. "I hope that the Australian government will now immediately convey these developments to the relevant Dubai authorities," he said.

Open and clothed

Well, you certainly know what you are getting into when investing in some of the locally listed China stocks - not. Take Yanghao International, whose registered office is a small apartment in the Regis Tower in central Sydney.

Originally a manufacturer and exporter of textiles and garments, it recently decided to begin trading in chemical products used in textile production. Now, it seems it defines Australian wine as a textiling chemical since its trading now includes exporting Australian wine to China, and importing LED lighting into Australia. Queried by the ASX, Yanghao reckons it had told shareholders it would move into non-traditional areas.

Anyway, the wine and LED are largely on a trial basis, to supplement its "core" business, even though it has admitted its core operations are "problematic", to put it politely.

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