Lowy not ready for mothballs yet

He may be 83, but Westfield founder Frank Lowy can still run a press conference like an old pro. Fronting the announcement of the property group's latest restructure, Lowy bristled when asked if he would remain as chairman.

He may be 83, but Westfield founder Frank Lowy can still run a press conference like an old pro. Fronting the announcement of the property group's latest restructure, Lowy bristled when asked if he would remain as chairman.

He noted that he had been asked about retirement when he was 60: "And I said then that I wasn't sure if I would stay on beyond 65 ... but now I hope to keep working for a long time to come. I'm 83 and not about to retire."

Lowy is not trying to burn the candle at both ends, though. Rumour has it his office toys include a comfy bed when a nap is called for.

Age has also given the octogenarian a more philosophical bent.

Asked again to elaborate on why the latest restructure was needed and whether it was a reflection of the retail sector at the moment, Frank mused: "What is a moment ... it's now passed."

Showing he's his father's son, Peter Lowy said he had been at the company for 30 years and he, too, was happy to stay. As to whether he would resume the deputy chair, "the board will make that decision and if Peter wants to take it on ... then we decide", said dad.

PM welcomed

The Business Council of Australia held its 30th anniversary shindig on Wednesday and was not about to upset proceedings with curly barbs at guest of honour Tony Abbott.

"Prime Minister, your government has sent a clear message that Australia is open for business and that you want business at the table, along with other groups, as part of a decision-making, reform-driving team," said BCA president Tony Shepherd in his speech.

No one from GrainCorp in attendance, obviously, but there were plenty of big names to share the limelight. Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford was on the invitation list, as was Virgin chief John Borghetti.

ANZ boss Mike Smith was a show, along with his Commonwealth Bank counterpart, Ian Narev. Westpac's Gail Kelly was absent but her chairman, Lindsay Maxsted, was in attendance.

New NBN guru Ziggy Switkowski was also there, as was Southern Cross Media chairman Max Moore-Wilton, who would have enjoyed the video highlights package that included a spot from his former boss, ex-PM John Howard.

Pay TV chief Richard Freudenstein was on hand to check the video highlights package, which was put together by his Foxtel team - presumably free of charge.

Macquarie's Nicholas Moore was also on the invitation list along with RBA board members Heather Ridout and Jillian Broadbent.

Mitey wrangle

Dick Smith - the man not the electronics chain - is strangely upbeat about a legal battle that could see his Aussie-owned Vegemite alternative pulled from supermarket shelves.

The makers of a rival spread AussieMite are seeking to have Smith's OzEmite trademark scrubbed from the trademarks register.

The entrepreneur refused to front a hearing at the Trademarks Office in Canberra this week on the grounds that all proceeds from the spread go to charity and he wasn't about to waste "one cent" on the legal fraternity.

"We've got 500,000 [jars] out, it's in all the shops. To remove a trademark in those circumstances you would think would have to be pretty unusual," says an ever-optimistic Smith.

Hopefully he won't be reduced to handing out free OzEmite in the streets as he was forced to do with 100,000 tins of locally grown beetroot last year when retailers rejected it.

He told CBD on Wednesday it could take "up to three months" for the Trademarks Office to make a decision anyway. It would certainly give him time to consider other options.

"I don't really care. I was on Sunrise this morning and I've announced we'll have a competition [to rename the spread]," Mr Smith said. "We might call it Kochie-mite or Dickie-mite."

CBD knows of retail outlets that would happily stock a product called Dickie-mite. Coles and Woolies are not among them.

Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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