With friends like these odd fellows

IT TAKES tenacity to be a top funds manager, and that's just what a bunch of executives at IOOF's Perennial Investment Partners are exhibiting in a legal case against, er, IOOF.

IT TAKES tenacity to be a top funds manager, and that's just what a bunch of executives at IOOF's Perennial Investment Partners are exhibiting in a legal case against, er, IOOF.

In late 2011 the New South Wales Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit brought by executives Mike Crivelli, Anthony Patterson and John Murray in which the men said they were owed a $25.7 million change of control fee. The three reckoned they were entitled under a 2006 deal in which they sold their outfit, Perennial to IOOF.

Sadly, Justice James Stevenson failed to share their view. However, a note to IOOF's interim financial report, released on Monday, shows the trio have mounted an appeal.

"The directors are of the opinion that the claim can continue to be successfully defended by the company," the accounts tersely record.

As far as CBD can tell, Crivelli and Patterson have left IOOF. The Perennial website still lists Murray as managing director of its Value division.

Muppet show

There is always a bit of colour at Whitehaven Coal briefings and Tuesday's first half-profit result didn't disappoint with Merrill Lynch analyst Peter O'Connor indulging in some self-flagellation.

In response to a question from O'Connor about Whitehaven's "woeful" non-profitability, and how the share price could be justified, outgoing chief Tony Haggarty said the consensus analyst forecasts suggested the company's shares were "grossly undervalued".

O'Connor hit back his own way, saying: "I'm flattered you think our numbers are credible, Tony, because we're really just a bunch of muppets".

If you don't believe your own numbers, said Haggarty, "you should revise them downwards," and he thanked O'Connor for his questions.

"Good luck!" O'Connor concluded mournfully, adding: "I'm on your side!" A bit of couch-time with a different type of analyst might be in order.

It's been a busy reporting season, especially for followers of Whitehaven, which CBD reckons should be renamed Whiteknuckle Coal after all the thrills and spills of the last year (many involving Singaporean Where's Wally Nathan Tinkler).

Goldman bites

VAMPIRE squid Goldman Sachs has snared Becton in its tentacles, and it might be slow to let go of the property developer.

Goldies and aggressive US hedge fund Fortress Investment Group bought Becton's secured debt from BOSI in January at a discount, said to be $50 million less than the face value of about $250 million.

On Tuesday, they tipped the listed head company into receivership, wiping out shareholders who were in a stoush with management over control of the company.

That leaves the debt holders with control of the construction and development assets, plus half of a retirement village business.

A privatisation would seem to be on the cards.

At the valuation in September's annual report, Becton's assets are worth $261 million - although what they're worth today of course depends on how much someone will pay for them. But on paper at least, the coup should leave Goldman Sachs' famous blood funnel engorged with cash.

RRRolling in it

COMMUNITY radio stations are up in arms about Senator Stephen Conroy's decision to cut $1.4 million to help the not-for-profit disc jockeys move their stations from scratchy old analog broadcasting to the sparkly new digital format.

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia reckons the not-for-profits can't afford to make the shift themselves and has mounted a "commit to community radio" campaign.

However, CBD knows somewhere within the community radio sector where $1.4 million, in cash, can be found: the Bendigo Bank cheque account of Melbourne's Triple R.

While community radio is traditionally a sector stricken by sallow-cheeked perpetual poverty, accounts filed by Triple R reveal an organisation glowing with good financial health.

"We've been saving up and not expanding our staff over the past few years, initially because we were moving to our new building in Brunswick," station manager Dave Houchin told CBD.

"We'd always like to have some cash buffer to maintain ourselves if we had a terrible [fund-raising] radiothon."

The accounts show Triple R raked in revenue of $2.14 million, including $906,000 in "sponsorship", which is the community radio term for on-air plugs for businesses.

It also made almost $930,000 from subscriptions paid by its supporters, which Houchin reckons number about 14,000. Against that it had expenses of about $1.69 million, leaving it with a surplus of $448,000.

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