Comfort for shire's asset-rich battlers

The CommSec chief economist known for his enthusiasm to offer the media quotes, metaphors and live crosses at any time of the year (even over Christmas lunch) showed little sign of slowing down during the summer break.

The CommSec chief economist known for his enthusiasm to offer the media quotes, metaphors and live crosses at any time of the year (even over Christmas lunch) showed little sign of slowing down during the summer break.

A Sutherland Shire local, Craig James availed himself to his local paper to offer a very local perspective on the state of the economy.

"We don't overgear ourselves," James told the St George&Sutherland Shire Leader on the debt situation in the region, which is better known as God's Country.

"We don't like to see ourselves as a high-income area, but rather strugglers and battlers, even though the average property price might be $1 million," he said.

It is unclear whether these views would correspond with those held by another Sutherland Shire ratepayer - the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens.

PAY ROUNDABOUT

The recent rumours of a possible takeover attempt for old people's home operator FKP may have left the company's managing director, Peter "The Hulk" Brown, feeling slightly remorseful.

Not just for the company - also over his potential termination package. Under his previous contract, which expired at the end of last financial year, Brown stood to gain two years' base pay if his contract was terminated.

That would have been more than $3 million based on his current package. But under his new contract, Brown will only get six months of base pay.

Still, it is not all bad. Brown, by sheer luck, snapped up 5 million shares on December 30 for 47? a pop. This was only a fortnight before FKP, which includes Stockland as a major shareholder, was queried by the ASX on the sudden surge on its share price.

The company confirmed in mid-January that it was "aware of media speculation" in relation to a possible $1 billion bid for its retirement home portfolio. There is also speculation of a full tilt for the property company. FKP shares closed at 61? last week, taking Brown's profit on his recent share purchase to $700,000.

BACK IN FOLD

There might be some awkward discussions when the MFS-founded, and now Jenny Hutson-managed, Premium Income Fund cobbles together its half-year accounts in the coming weeks.

More than three months after Hutson's Wellington Capital crowed about its newly appointed auditor, Johnston Rorke, having a client base that included "publicly listed and large private companies", it was been forced back into the embrace of its old auditor, who was unwilling to sign off the valuation of the fund's assets.

Wellington announced last week that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission had declined to accept the resignation of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC itself declined to vouch for the $233 million gross asset valuation of the fund that was signed off by Hutson in last financial year's accounts.

A valuation, that is, on which her 0.7 per cent management fee is based. The bulk of the valuation comprised of mortgages that had been lent out by the fund to various property developers.

"At the date of issue of this report, we were unable to obtain access to the external advisers and their supporting work papers and, as a result, were unable to evaluate the appropriateness of the advisers' work and obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence in relation to the recoverable amount of the mortgage loans," PwC said in the accounts.

BANKER AT LARGE

ANZ Bank chief executive Mike Smith made a rare visit to Melbourne at the weekend to help hand the Australian Open women's trophy to Victoria Azarenka.

Smith, who is known for his eagerness to build ANZ into a Pacific islands powerhouse (encompassing Guam, Fiji and Kiribati), flew into the Australian city in which his bank happens to be based, just days after visiting the Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, in Bangkok.

GOOD VIBRATIONS

What started as a casual breakfast and surf off North Curl Curl beach in November 2009, organised by Perpetual fund manager Charlie Lanchester, has not taken long to establish itself as the key fund-raising event for the surfing-mad segment of the big end of town.

More than two years since Lanchester put together a band of so-called Surfing Suits to raise money for the SurfAid charity, which works for the health and wellbeing of the Mentawai and Nias people of Indonesia, the group will hold its most formal event yet (there is still no dress code) at Doltone House in Pyrmont on March 9.

The inaugural BlackBerry SurfAid Ball will be headlined by the Split Enzer Neil Finn and will include a small awards ceremony for the Commonwealth Bank team which won the SurfAid Corporate Cup, held off Queenscliff late last year. The CBA team included the bank's chief currency strategist Richard Grace, foreign exchange dealer Bill Langley, head of foreign exchange options sales Anton Lindell and local business banking operative John Tiller .

A trophy will also go to the Lanchester-led Perpetual team, which won the fund-raising award with more than $24,000 at the November event.

Fortunately for Westpac's Ascalon Capital Managers chief executive, Andrew Landman, he won't be getting a trinket for taking the Wipeout Award for a spectacular "over the falls" in the surfing competition.

Ball guests will include former champ surfers Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Mark "Occy" Occhilupo and Simon Anderson, and motivational speaker Mark Mathews.

Got a tip? srochfort@smh.com.au

Related Articles