Coe absent from APA flight lounge this time

IT'S a no-Coe zone. While chief Qantas joystick-waggler Alan Joyce loves to call the Sydney set stalking his airline's register the "APA Mark II club", there's one name from the original push missing from the membership list this time around.

IT'S a no-Coe zone. While chief Qantas joystick-waggler Alan Joyce loves to call the Sydney set stalking his airline's register the "APA Mark II club", there's one name from the original push missing from the membership list this time around.

That would be the man who piloted one of the GFC's most spectacular crashes, former Allco executive chairman David Coe.

Coe was a key player in the original 2006-07 Airline Partners Australia bid for Qantas and is frequently sighted hanging about with APA II syndicate member John "Singo" Singleton at the latter's Sydney pub.

He was also in Global Aviation Asset Management, an aeroplane-leasing business involving Singo and many of the same APA players, which was sold last year at a tasty profit. However, CBD has confirmed that Coe is not involved in the new group, put together by investment banker Mark Carnegie, that is attacking Qantas management.

Back in 2007, APA Mark I offered Qantas shareholders $5.45 a share, plus a 15¢ dividend, in a bid supported by the Qantas board.

Management - including then chief executive Geoff Dixon, who reportedly is in APA II - stood to get millions more in "accelerated equity". Sadly, it was not to be, with the bid failing to get over the line.

With Qantas shares now worth about $1.35, shareholders who rejected the offer must be kicking themselves.

Their loss is taxpayers' gain. As the APA plan involved loading Qantas up with $10.65 billion in debt, the airline would almost certainly have collapsed in 2008 when the financial crisis hit. Given restrictions on foreign ownership of Qantas, a government bailout would have been inevitable.

The gastronome

CBD hasn't been able to reach Coe, but the trail of the elusive corporate figure leads deep into the jungles of the hospitality industry.

He is frequently spotted lunching at Neil Perry's chophouses, and company documents show that he is more than just a customer to the ponytailed celebrity chef.

The former Allco boss was also involved in the Sydney and Melbourne outposts of Perry's Spice Temple empire. And he wasn't out the back in the kitchen dishpigging or chiffonading greens.

Corporate records show Coe was a director of two companies, Spice Temple and Spice Temple of Melbourne, from June last year until February this year.

CBD has no idea why, and attempts to contact Coe through Paul Brown, his partner at corporate advisory shop Ligara Capital, came to naught.

Sounds good

ON ITS website Ligara says it focuses on "risk transfer structures supporting the future value of various types of property, plant and equipment; for operating leases, tenor flexibility, portfolio reconstruction and credit enhancement".

It's a pity investors who did their shirts in the failed Allco group didn't have a "risk transfer structure". Allco Finance Group shares, which had changed hands for as much as $12.86 in late 2006, were declared worthless in May 2009.

Mum's the word

SHUCKS, if only they'd asked! John Atkinson, a former Sydney partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie faced an unpleasant day on the wrong side of the witness box at an Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing on Tuesday.

Atkinson was being grilled about the marvellous 2010 transaction in which he and four other directors of White Energy (John Kinghorn, John McGuigan, Travers Duncan and Brian Flannery) were going to sell their privately owned company Cascade Coal to White Energy for a mere $500 million.

None of the five White directors involved in the related-party deal thought it might have interested either the ASX or White's shareholders to know that the family of controversial Labor MP Eddie Obeid had secretly owned 25 per cent of Cascade Coal and had been paid $28 million to "sanitise" the deal. Atkinson told the inquiry it was up to White's independent board to find out.

When asked how the independent board was going to find out about the Obeid interest? Atkinson replied. "Through due diligence." "What were they going to do? Beat it out of you?" suggested counsel assisting.

As it turned out, some curly questions from the ASX led White's then chairman Brian Flannery to pull the pin on the deal in April 2011.

Sage shrugs

IT HAS been a tough couple of weeks for Perth Glory owner and mining entrepreneur Tony Sage.

Last week Paul Kelly, the chief executive of his football club, quit after a kerfuffle over the Glory's ill-fated pursuit of Harry Kewell.

Now, one of Sage's companies, Cape Lambert Resources, has had to stump up $33 million to keep the taxman from the door. The money, representing half of a surprise tax bill received in May, will be handed over to the ATO while the dispute goes through the system.

Last week, Cape Lambert received a please-explain letter from the ASX after heavy trade saw its stock price dive from 24¢ to 19¢.

The fall could have had nothing to do with the impending handover of a huge wad of cash to the taxman because, as the company said, it was "continuing its discussions with the [ATO] . . . no recovery action has yet been instigated".

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