Ex-Allco chairman dies on skiing trip

DAVID COE, the former chairman of the collapsed Allco Finance Group, has died while on a skiing trip at the popular mountain resort of Aspen in the United States.

DAVID COE, the former chairman of the collapsed Allco Finance Group, has died while on a skiing trip at the popular mountain resort of Aspen in the United States.

Friends and business colleagues confirmed Mr Coe, 58, died of a suspected heart attack in Aspen, Colorado, on Monday afternoon (US time). He leaves behind his wife Michelle and three sons.

Following the collapse in November 2008 of Allco owing $1.1 billion, Mr Coe had based himself in London but frequently made trips back to his home-town of Sydney.

Close friend Neil Perry, one of Australia's top chefs, said the "world has lost a great citizen, a man with a brilliant family and I have lost one of my dearest friends and mentors".

Widely regarded as a key figure in Sydney's tight-knit business establishment, Mr Coe began his career as a corporate lawyer before rising to national prominence during the bull market last decade as the executive chairman of Allco.

But the collapse of the finance company became one of the most high-profile failures of a raft of Australian companies during the global financial crisis. Meeting the same fate as companies such as Babcock & Brown and ABC Learning, Allco came unstuck as global debt markets froze and the sharemarket plunged.

At a Federal Court hearing in early 2010 into the collapse of Allco, Mr Coe described as the "worst decision of my life" a failure three years earlier to eradicate tens of millions of dollars of margin loans over a large swath of Allco shares owned by key executives.

The big chunk of stock was later sold by lenders, putting more pressure on Allco's wavering share price.

In 2008, Mr Coe also gained attention when he put up for sale his mansion in Sydney's prestigious suburb of Vaucluse. The harbour-front property eventually sold for a record $45 million.

Before the demise of the finance house he founded, Mr Coe had also been a central figure in the unsuccessful $11 billion bid for Qantas in 2007. Allco was part of a consortium that included Macquarie Group and well-known private equity firm Texas Pacific Group.

After those heady days, Mr Coe devoted considerable time to philanthropic pursuits.

While he stepped down as chairman of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008, he was on the board of the Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation and National Gallery of Australia Foundation. He was also on the international council of the Tate in London.

Simon Mordant, an investment banker and arts patron, described Mr Coe as a "true gentleman, a great friend and an extremely generous person".

"He is a wonderful family man who is going to be deeply missed by a great number of people both in Australia and internationally," he said.

The National Gallery's director, Ron Radford, said Mr Coe was an "immensely enthusiastic, positive and lively man who was always passionate about contemporary art and those institutions showing it".

Although Mr Coe kept a low public profile in the wake of Allco's demise, he remained active in a range of business endeavours, including Sports and Entertainment Ltd. It manages high-profile sporting identities including Shane Warne and celebrities such as Michael Parkinson.

Sports and Entertainment was also the corporate face behind the V8 Supercars franchise.

Mr Coe was also involved in Global Aviation Asset Management, an aeroplane-leasing business, whose other backers included high-profile businessmen such as John Singleton, Mark Carnegie and Geoff Dixon. They sold the leasing company for a substantial profit in 2011.

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