IAG turns to an old favourite

Michael Evans keeps his teddy bear by his side at night for moral support.

Michael Evans keeps his teddy bear by his side at night for moral support.

THERE'S nothing like the fit of a comfy old shoe even after you've bought a flash new pair of leather pumps.

Ask IAG chairman James Strong. When Strong was invited in early April to sit down with QBE's John Cloney to discuss the marriage of their children, IAG headed to its house broker UBS.

But things had changed at the Swiss bank since IAG last needed its help on anything quite the size of a near $8 billion takeover defence.

In particular, big banana Chris Mackay was gone.

So UBS gathered a heavyweight team consisting of Peter Scott, Shane Doyle and Anthony Sweetman to run its defence.

It's taken a while, but word has filtered back that IAG quietly arranged a little extra hired help in the background.

And who was spotted working away on the deal other than one Chris Mackay? In fact, Mackay was summonsed from investment banking retirement to advise the IAG board.

While Mackay had long since departed to be replaced by Brad Orgill, he had a consultancy agreement to advise key clients through a handover phase. But, and it's a big but, Mackay's consultancy with UBS had finished. IAG, however, still wanted their man.

We'd hate to think IAG reached for the gun - and UBS didn't have one.

Asked about Mackay's work on the deal, IAG spokesthing Carolyn McCann said: "We have a good relationship with UBS and it's an ongoing relationship with UBS and Chris is connected to UBS."

We pointed out he no longer works there and his consultancy is finished. "He's always been on our account with UBS right from the beginning." Till death us do part, or something like that, apparently.

Still, there's a lot of loose ends to tie up when there's a changing of the guard. And word is IAG wanted access to a range of people with whom they were comfortable and Mackay, although his consultancy was finished, wanted to help both parties.

In completely unrelated news, about three weeks after QBE's approach, UBS boss Orgill announced his departure from the firm to be replaced by chief deal-doer Matthew Grounds.

Long lunch

It's no doubt going to be a quiet affair when 40 or so of the bigger old-time names in TV get together for lunch today to chow down on a rump at Vlado's steakhouse in Melbourne. In something of a TV-land reunion, a horde of old hands ranging from David Leckie, Trevor Kennedy, Sam Chisholm, Harold Mitchell, Vance Lothringer, David Evans and Fred Schepsi are getting together to reminisce on the times when TV used to be important.

While the affair is due to kick off about lunchtime, no one is brave enough to suggest a finishing time.

Five-oh frolics

Those PEPpy privateers at Pacific Equity Partners don't have to look too far for a birthday present for Tim Sims, who hits the big five-oh this week.

Colleagues Simon Pillar, Rob Koczkar, Rickard Gardell and Paul McCullagh might be able to manage a staff discount for a few books from their Borders chain or even a ten pass to Hoyts. They might even manage a new Godfreys vacuum cleaner.

Office drinks will be adequately catered for with supplies from Independent Liquor and catering should be pretty easy with a few chooks from Tegels and snacks from Collins. No doubt some wag will offer a packet of dim sims.

Then again, there might also be room for a Coles shopping basket, filled with what might have been. Or a few Flight Centre tickets for a trip to a nowhere. Still, we'd like to have Sims' problems. PEP is still sitting on $4 billion of fresh funds.

Mates in high places

The world of private equity is nothing but competitive. Providing yet another example that bidding for talent is just as fierce as it is for assets is the recruitment of ex-Westpac chief teller David Morgan to the rich and rarified ranks of the New York investment world. The Morgster recalled yesterday how he was approached by one, unnamed, private equity group a little while back about working for them but was unsure if that was the right move. So he flew to New York to see one of his best mates in the States - who just so happens to be the kahuna of one of the top American banks - for some job advice.

Morgan was told that before accepting he should talk to Chris Flowers, the legendary head of JC Flowers who before setting up his own firm ten years ago headed up Goldman Sachs' global financial institutions group until 1998.

So, a chat was arranged for the next day even though Morgan and Flowers had not met before. The two apparently got on famously right from the off and within 20 minutes Flowers offered Morgan the job that was publicly announced yesterday - much, no doubt, to the chagrin of the other firm. Who needs head hunters with contacts like those?

A few bullions more

Everyone else might be losing money but a former Kiwi tow-truck driver is outperforming the index quite handsomely. New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart, more than doubled his wealth in the past year, according to the latest Kiwi ruch lust.

Hart, 53, has seen his wealth surge from $NZ2.75 billion ($2.14 billion) last year to $NZ6 billion this year, apparently making him more wealthy than Donald Trump or Sir Richard Branson, the annual National Business Review said.

It's not like Hart's been selling up over the past year either, having forked out gazillions for box shops around the world including Alcoa's consumer goods packaging companies.

In encouraging news for Malcolm Turnbull of Point Piper, Aotearoa may soon have a zillionaire Prime Minister with politician John Key, who leads the main opposition National Party, reportedly worth $NZ50 million.

Lynette Erceg, widow of booze baron Michael, is the first female billionaire on the list and worth $NZ1.4 billion.

Sadly, Dave Dobbyn is yet to appear despite strong sales of his classic Slice of Heaven.

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