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Golden goal looms for Lowy in Brazil

What do you do when you lose a bid to host a Football (aka Roundball) World Cup? Expand into the country hosting the next one.

What do you do when you lose a bid to host a Football (aka Roundball) World Cup? Expand into the country hosting the next one.

The Football Federation Australia chairman, Frank Lowy, has all but guaranteed himself some plum seats for the 2014 World Cup thanks to his Westfield shopping centre business making it first foray into Brazil.

The Westfield chairman described the group's $440 million purchase of a half stake in the Brazilian shopping centre mall company Almeida Junior as "an exciting and significant strategic investment for the group which expands our global franchise into this large and high potential market".

No doubt Lowy was right. The purchase might also give Lowy the chance to secure some tickets to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Westfield's joint chief executive Steven Lowy did his best to play down the sporting benefits of the acquisition.

"That's not the reason we bought into Brazil. But the events will add to the infrastructure of the country and open Brazil up to the rest of the world," he said. "Yes, there will be some fun as well. You will all be aware of two events that are coming up, the World Cup and the Olympics."

The media conference ended with the younger Lowy hugging his new Brazilian shopping centre compadre Jaimes Almeida Junior.

JUNIOR HIGH

Junior, who will remain chief executive of the newly named Westfield Almeida Junior, seems to set very high standards for himself.

"We have a dedicated, championship staff that is prepared to achieve what is apparently not possible," he notes on the Almeida Junior website.

"The possible does not attract us, we always want more. And for this reason each day is a new day at Almeida Junior."

To drive home the point:

"Almeida Junior will continue to dream high and invest great effort and passion to conquering its dreams," he said.

"Dreaming nourishes our souls, makes us better, and gives us satisfaction when they come true."

Westfield has no plans at present to expand to Qatar or Russia.

POWER-LESS

One of the largest unit holders in the City Pacific-founded First Mortgage Fund, Tom Powers, has rejected talk he is involved in a bid to topple the management of the fund.

On Tuesday, the City Pacific founder, Phil Sullivan, lent his support to a group of unnamed investors called Protect PFMF, who are looking to topple Balmain Trilogy as the managers of the fund that once held $900 million in deposits.

"I will not be associated with anything that Phil Sullivan has anything to do with," Powers told CBD in his more polite mode.

"If they wanted my support they shouldn't have got Phil Sullivan."

In a posting on the Protect PFMF site, Sullivan played down his role in the demise of City Pacific. "The accounting practices that City Pacific was bound by are accepted worldwide as the international standard," he said. He made no mention of the mistake in the 2008 preliminary second-half accounts, which contained numerous errors.

MATT CASH

Investors upset about Stockland Group's security price being down 70 per cent from its July 2007 high can at least take heart from the recovery in the bonuses paid to the property group's senior executive team.

The release of the group's financial accounts yesterday showed that its managing director, Matthew Quinn, in the year to June 30 was awarded a $2.2 million cash bonus and $1.67 million in long-term incentives on top of his $1.8 million base wage.

His total remuneration for the year was $5.7 million, up about $1 million on the year. It was also a tad more than the $4.58 million Quinn earned in the 2007 financial year - on the eve of the credit crisis - when Stockland reported a $1.7 billion net profit (largely helped by asset revaluations).

Quinn's short-term bonus last financial year was also higher (up $450,000 to $2.2 million) despite Stockland's profits being less than half of what they were in 2007.

WORDS WORTH

Other Stocklanders to ride out the property meltdown include the group's head spin doctor and press release supremo, Karyn Munsie.

Munsie's base pay rose 40 per cent to $525,000. Her total pay rose 45 per cent to $1.21 million, thanks to a $405,000 cash bonus and $262,000 in long-term incentives.

Stockland's accounts state that Munsie was paid 55.1 per cent of her potential long- and short-term bonuses. It is unclear whether the bonuses might be linked to the number of press releases written by the company, or the number of times Stockland does (or does not) get a mention in the media.

For the year to June 30, Stockland was mentioned 198 times in the Herald. This was up on the 134 mentions the previous financial year.

Munsie received no mentions in the Herald over the two years. Munsie has not received one mention in any major Fairfax or News Limited paper in her three years at Stockland. The last time she was mentioned in a major paper was in 2004, when in her former role at AMP she wouldn't comment on speculation.

The last direct quote she gave was in 2003, when she commented on the remuneration package of AMP's former chief executive Paul Batchelor. "As soon as it is finished, we will release it."

STOCKS & THE CITI

The broking arm of Citi has offered its clients a stunning revelation that might help them take advantage of the current volatility on global equity markets.

One of the "top calls" in a Citi note yesterday was for investors to look at investing in companies that perform well, rather than those that perform below expectations.

"We observe a post-earnings announcements drift within Australian equities which investors can profit from by buying stocks that announce earnings above analyst expectations and simultaneously selling stocks where realised earnings come in below consensus expectations," the Citi note revealed.

Apparently the Citi "top call" was inspired by the theory that companies that have better-than-expected profits often see their share prices perform better than companies that post below-par results.

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