New look for 'Fast' Eddy
Shrinking coalminer Nathan Tinkler gave up his title as the Where's Wally of the corporate world last Thursday, when he jetted in from Singapore for a court appearance.
But there's a new contender for the stripey red suit and silly hat, former ABC Learning boss "Fast" Eddy Groves. The fallen Rich Lister was bankrupted in late January and in mid-February claimed to be homeless, although he said he expected to find a home within a fortnight.
He gave as his previous address a beachfront property on the Gold Coast owned by his wife, Viryan Collins-Rubie.
Where is he now? CBD believes Groves has recently been in the US and intends to move to Vancouver, Canada, with Collins-Rubie. It's yet to be seen whether he can resist the magnetic pull of the witness box, which has a habit of drawing those involved in corporate collapses back to Australia. Just as Tinkler faced liquidators over the collapse of his Mulsanne Resources, so Groves is likely to be grilled over his personal insolvency at an examination run by his trustees, Mark Robinson and Andrew Scott of PPB Advisory.
Man of mystery
Interesting scenes at Sydney's Rockpool restaurant on Tuesday, where Crown chairman James Packer was king of lunch.
Packer and a mob swept through the restaurant, already packed with heavyweight types including Myer's Bernie Brookes, former ALP powerbroker and Swiss banking fan Graham Richardson, lunching with some property types, and Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett. Ponytailed short-order cook and Packer supporter Neil Perry was busy working the floor, leaving no time for chopping and frying.
The Packer mob went upstairs to a private room, to which they were soon followed by Australian Casino Review hacks James Chessell and Nabila Ahmed.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Crown deputy chairman John Alexander was having a separate lunch with a mystery man in his 40s.
Packer came to the table and greeted ... the mystery man. Indeed, in between the hugs it sounded awfully like he was setting up a meeting for later that evening.
Big guns gather
The who's who of the retail property world gathered at bel mondo restaurant in Sydney's Rocks district for the annual love-in at the launch of Shopping Centre News' Big Guns report. While the top people from the major centres - Stockland's John Schroder, GPT's Matthew Faddy and Carmel Hourigan, Mirvac's Sue MacDonald, Lend Lease's Gary Horwitz, Colonial First State's Angus McNaughton and Michael Gorman and ISPT's Cameron Gregson - were in abundance, it was the year of the fashionistas with Top Shop's Hilton Seskin and Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Coach reps adding a touch of elegance.
Woolies' Ralph Kemmler and many from Coles were also seen mingling, but CBD's spies couldn't glean if they managed to get any rent reductions. The main message was that while retail may be going through tough times, shopping centres remain the hub of a community - despite the growth of the internet.
Berg still silent
Canberrans soaking up the ambience of the Senate communications committee on Tuesday were treated to some top-notch biffo between the Institute of Public Affairs' free speech advocate Chris "Johannes" Berg and the ALP's Senator Doug Cameron on media reform. CBD tuned in late to catch an angry Cameron telling Berg: "You don't have to answer. If you don't want to answer, you can always go."
Berg made the point that "if you're only going to defend speech you agree with, then you're not going to defend speech at all".
Quite. Berg has yet to return CBD's calls of a week ago asking if legal action taken against Fairfax journalist Adele Ferguson by Gina Rinehart had any effect on freedom of speech.