DJs bidder Edgar turns up in NZ

FOR THOSE interested in the travails of the controversial private equity offer for David Jones from phantom Scotsman John Edgar, he has resurfaced in New Zealand.

FOR THOSE interested in the travails of the controversial private equity offer for David Jones from phantom Scotsman John Edgar, he has resurfaced in New Zealand.

We learnt this week that neither Edgar nor any company (including the bidding vehicle EB Private Equity) that appears to be associated with him actually traded in David Jones shares around the time of the offer.

Instead, Edgar appears to have been some sociopath with delusions of grandeur or some kind of corporate terrorist.

But this has not deterred the Australian corporate regulator from its hunt to find out how this corporate debacle played out. Part of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's investigations has included talking to its regulatory counterparts around the world. Perhaps it should be making a trans-Tasman call.

According to records found by BusinessDay, Edgar set up a company in New Zealand two weeks after he walked away from David Jones. This appears to be a company name not previously used by Edgar - RPV NZ Limited. It uses an email address which contains the name of RPV Private Equity.

In classic Edgar style, the company appears to have no assets and one share, owned by him. He is the only director and the business address is a mail box in Takapuna, Auckland.

His personal address is now an apartment in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, in Britain.

Edgar is no stranger to New Zealand, having set up a business there in the early 2000s called GoodInvestor, which it described as an online award-winning group involved in mortgage broking and credit cards.

In one of the rare interviews given by Edgar at the time, he claimed to be giving a portion of his revenue to charity. This has not been verified.

The New Zealand business ceased to operate a few years after it appeared, according to corporate records. It claimed to have a business affiliation with the AMP - which had no record of it.

Meanwhile, the Edgar trail regularly leads back to a supplier of whisky. One of his brands claimed to be marketing a $6 million precious-gem encrusted bottle of halal (non-alcoholic) whisky in the Middle East.

A recently discovered site suggests his company was also pushing a kosher bottle of whisky in Australia. Neither of these can be verified.

Flight or fight

The market might be getting a bit ahead of itself in marking up Qantas's share price by almost 10 per cent on the back of a potential alliance with the Middle Eastern airline Emirates.

There's nothing new in the fact that Qantas and Emirates are in talks. That they are getting closer to a deal is positive, but only if the alliance is one that suits Qantas.

A vanilla-flavoured code share is not considered by aviation experts to be a positive for Qantas - rather, it is a negative.

Emirates has previously made it clear that it would be open to a code share but history has shown it has a reluctance to engage in an closer alliances, such as joint ventures.

The fact that nothing has been announced and negotiations are still taking place suggests Qantas is pushing the envelope and insisting on some kind of non-equity joint venture, or at the very least a revenue-sharing arrangement.

Such a deal would not be a cure-all for the myriad problems that Qantas's international service is experiencing. But it would be a positive start.

This part of Qantas's business continues to bleed and an alliance with Emirates that gives the Flying Kangaroo virtual access to many European ports without using its own aircraft would allow it to hollow out its cost structure.

Meanwhile, the suggestion that Qantas would cut direct flights into Frankfurt, its only remaining European destination after London, is another positive for the carrier.

But this alone is not enough to stem the losses from its Qantas mainline operations, which the company suggests could be as large as $450 million.

While it would appear that the answer to Qantas's problems is to close its international brand, its chief executive, Alan Joyce, has made it clear that it feeds both the profitable domestic operations and the lucrative frequent flyer business. Thus this is not an option.

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