Spit happens to Max the Axe

Spit happens to Max the Axe

When popular DJ Matt Tilley stepped back from the mike last week after 23 years with Southern Cross Austereo's Fox FM, you could say he was entitled to a little constructive criticism of a management that has been buffeted by all sorts of crises over the past year, including the royal prank call.

He delivered in spades with a cracking farewell speech that tipped the bucket on everyone, including company chairman Max "Shit Happens" Moore-Wilton.

Tilley - half of the top-rating breakfast show Matt & Jo - admitted to a regret that listeners are being "short changed" because of the way the company "quivers" under the draconian regulations imposed "because of the behaviour of that bearded lump of cholesterol Kyle Sandilands".

It got better: "It sounds like bongo drums down the corridors of this building as sphincters just slam shut at the thought of another bad story in the press, so we can't do anything too risky," he lamented.

He said chairman Moore-Wilton summed up the malaise with aplomb with his statement that "shit happens" in reply to shareholder concerns about the controversies.

"Well, you know what, mate, shit doesn't just happen. People work really hard around here to make anything happen, and they can do with a bit less callous disregard and a bit more empathy and support, I reckon," Tilley retorted.

Hmmm, CBD really can't see Moore-Wilton changing his spots on that one - he's not known as "Max the Axe" for nothing, you know.

Spilling the sauce

Some corporate warriors can be selective about what achievements they choose to publicise, so we applaud Cover-More chairman Michael Alscher, who proved very forthcoming in the prospectus to the travel insurer's upcoming float. In the laundry list of accomplishments in his bio, Alscher - founder of Cover-More's owner Crescent Capital Partners - includes his role as a director of one of Crescent's less-successful acquisitions.

Gourmet Food Holdings, owner of tomato sauce brand Rosella, fell off its perch last year.

"This company and other Rosella group companies voluntarily entered into external administration due to insolvency during the time that Michael was a director," his prospectus bio says.

If you are one of the market punters being asked to cough up a collective $521 million as part of the Cover-More float, it might help to know that Crescent will retain a 13 per cent stake.

Beef with cheese

Life on the land involves wearing a number of different hats, and it is a skill that Victorian farmer Roma Britnell obviously handles well.

Britnell has found herself at the centre of the bidding war for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter. Wearing her dairy farmer hat, Britnell said recently that "many, many farmers" believe the Warrnambool board has not run "a fair and transparent process" in the three-way bidding war between Canada's Saputo and locals Bega and Murray Goulburn.

She is not entirely an independent observer in proceedings though. Aside from owning shares in Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool Cheese, her family processes the milk from its 1000-strong herd with Murray Goulburn. She also had an unsuccessful run at Murray Goulburn's board earlier this year.

Britnell insists her interests as a farmer far outweigh any other concerns, including sharemarket investments. She said: "As a dairy farmer, I've invested a huge amount in land. First and foremost, my interests are for the dairy industry's future."

Her big beef with Saputo is that, as a competitive new entrant to the market, it would mean dairy farmers would be splintered even further among competing processors. "We would be far better off as dairy farmers if we worked collaboratively," she said.

Alas, Treasurer Joe Hockey won't be working his same parochial magic on this transaction he did with GrainCorp. He has already given his blessing to the Saputo bid.

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