Monthly Archives: March 2019

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ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft muses about business, politics and his future

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft appeared on Channel 9’s The Bottom Line on Saturday, in a revealing chat on his poacher-turned-gamekeeper career. The big revelation is that a return to “poaching” – ie his career in banking – is more likely than a switch to politics.

The former investment banker admits the role of regulator-in-chief is not something that was top-of-mind when he quit Wall Street to come home on the eve of the GFC.

“I’ve never really thought of myself as a regulator. They’re people I try to avoid, actually,” he says of his thoughts when approached for the ASIC job.

Recalling his Wall Street days, Medcraft admits “I was on the other side saying ‘free enterprise, let us, the market, work’. I used to be lobbying saying ‘we can manage ourselves as an industry’.”

The globetrotting chairman must have some sympathy with the position of Commonwealth Bank chief, Ian Narev, who is arguing for much the same thing.

Given his bruising engagement with the Senate, and CBA, the big question was whether Medcraft would rule out a jump into either sphere when his watchdog days are over.

“Yeah, I don’t think politics,” was his opening line. “I think I’ve seen politics close-hand and you know, I like business, I like banking, you’re right, but then I like doing,” he says.

“It’s actually great if you can get a combination of where you’re doing something in business that also contributes to society … but then that’s always the approach I had when I was in banking, you know, doing things that actually are making money but actually are also very useful socially.”

As for his current gig, Medcraft was asked whether he was a “good regulator,” ie one who is “ahead of the game”.

“As much as I can be,” says Medcraft who has recently lamented the budget cuts that will make his job even harder. “I think you’ve actually got to be, in order to avoid problems.”

CBD has no disagreement with him on the last point.Love is fleeting

Bank of Queensland may be telling its customers “it’s possible to love a bank” but it seems love of its stock is optional. BOQ’s chief bank teller Stuart Grimshaw offloaded 16,000 shares last week, netting $197,000 for his troubles, according to a filing on Tuesday. Medibank bars gate

George Savvides might be itching for a sale of the little shop he runs called Medibank Private, but his PR flacks still have a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with the media attention that will come with it.

A CBD colleague approached the health insurer about a chat with Savvides about his favourite topic, but was told it is a little tricky to chat about its sale and “we can only take very specific requests (with mapped out story plans) up to the executive committee”.

We wouldn’t want the exec committee getting lost in the story, now would we?Tinkler still tinkling

Speculation is swirling about the future of Nathan Tinkler’s $70 million deal to acquire the Wilkie Creek coal mine from Peabody Energy after Fairfax Media reports prompted Stanmore Coal to say it had “held discussions” about acquiring the mine.

Peabody is sticking to its guns, though and insisting Tinkler is still their man.

“We continue to work towards the milestones set out in our original announcement,” says Peabody, which insists the parties are currently “on track” with the milestones.

CBD inquired about Stanmore confirming its flirtation with Peabody over the mine, but no further comment was offered.


CBD made the cardinal sin of referring to “God’s Banker” George Pell as a Jesuit this week. Readers inform CBD that apologies are due to the order which is formally known as the Society of Jesus. Your columnist has seen the error of his ways and will say his first Hail Marys since serving as an altar boy at St Cecilia’s, Perth.

Got a tip? [email protected]杭州后花园

Shares drop as earnings jitters take hold

Australian shares got swept up in a global share sell-off on Wednesday, taking their biggest daily tumble in more than seven weeks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.1 per cent, on Wednesday to 5452.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index shed 1 per cent to 5442.2 points, as Chinese inflation and local consumer confidence data disappointed.

Local shares took a negative lead from Wall St after the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average each lost 0.7 per cent on Tuesday night. Nerves are building that equity markets in the United States are set for a dip if company earnings disappoint heading into the US reporting season in the weeks ahead.

“The only time US equities have traded on a higher average price to sales ratio in the past 25 years was in the lead up to the dot com bust,” Wingate Asset Management chief investment officer Chad Padowitz said.

Falls in major markets around Asia continued to weigh on sentiment in the afternoon session. When the local market closed Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was tracking 1.5 per cent lower following the release of data that showed weaker than expected inflation in China. Chinese inflation, as measured by the official consumer price index, lifted 2.3 per cent in the year to June. The market had been tipping an annual inflation reading of 2.5 per cent.

Despite consensus expectations that the local equity market will post a third consecutive year of gains in fiscal 2015,a growing number of fund managers are tipping a market correction on the horizon in the coming months.

“The volatility index is currently at lows not seen since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 and if that does not ring alarm bells for people I don’t know what will,” Altius Asset Management portfolio manager Chris Dickman said.

On Wednesday, renewed negative sentiment about the outlook for China weighed on the biggest commodity exporters. Resources giant BHP Billiton lost 0.9 per cent to $37.25, while mining rival Rio Tinto shed 0.4 per cent to $62.14.

The spot price of iron ore lifted 0.6 per cent before the market opened to $US96.50 per tonne, delivered in China. But when the ASX closed iron ore futures trading in China was tipping a dip in the spot price overnight.

In domestic economic news, a closely watched monthly survey of consumer confidence lifted off the recent lows recorded following the federal budget announcement in May. The Westpac – Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index rose 1.9 per cent to 94.9 points in July. Market economists were generally disappointed that there has not been a stronger rebound in consumer confidence.

In company news, adult education and training provider Navitas was a heavy weight on the bourse, plummeting 31 per cent to a 15-month low of $4.86 after revealing key customer Macquarie University will end the 18 year relationship to launch its own in-house pathway program.

Educational software developer 3P Learning disappointed on debut sinking 14 per cent to $2.15.

Mark Bouris’s mortgage lending franchise Yellow Brick Road added 0.7 per cent to 73.5¢ after emerging from a trading halt to announce the purchase of rival RESI Mortgages.

The big four lenders were all lower. Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 0.7 per cent to $80.79, while Westpac Banking Corp shed 1.1 per cent to $33.85. ANZ Banking Group fell 1.2 per cent to $33.18, and National Australia Bank declined 1 per cent to $33.27.

Among other major stocks Telstra Corp fell 0.6 per cent to $5.29, Woolworths dipped 1.2 per cent to $35.89, and Wesfarmers lost 0.9 per cent to $42.63.

Shares in Scentre Group, the entity spun out of the Westfield empire focused on its local shopping mall assets rose 0.3 per cent to $3.21 after the company launched a €2 billion ($2.9 billion) bond issue on Tuesday.

Junior goldminer Northern Star Resources was the top stock in the ASX 200, climbing 14 per cent to $1.51 after beating quarterly production guidance.

Guardian losses point to Graeme Wood loan

Graeme Wood, the founder of wotif杭州后花园m. Photo: Peter Rae Photo: Peter RaeWotif co-founder Graeme Wood’s investment in The Guardian Australia will not be repaid until 2018 – provided certain hurdles are met.

Mr Wood, who stands to make $140 million if the sale of Wotif proceeds, invested an undisclosed amount in The Guardian’s local operations, which launched in May last year.

But the accounts for Guardian Media Group, the parent company of guardian杭州后花园m publisher Guardian News & Media, give some guide to the size of the investment.

They state that GMG ”received investment to finance the expansion of the group’s activities in Australia. Subject to certain performance conditions being met, these unsecured borrowings are expected to mature no earlier than 2018”.

That investment is included in GMG’s non-current external borrowings and interest of £8.2 million ($14.94 million), up from £2.5 million ($4.55 million) last year.

The local subsidiary, GNM Australia, is yet to file its 2014 accounts. Its 2013 accounts show it had borrowings of $8.58 million and cash of $4.5 million.

Of Mr Wood’s investment, Guardian Media Group chief executive Andrew Miller has said: ”It’s a loan, so he will get his money back first. But if we decide not to continue in Australia, then there’s no obligation to repay the loan.”

GMG this week reported a loss before taxation from continuing operations of £26.1 million ($47.5 million) for the 2014 financial year. This was an improvement on the previous year’s loss of £43.9 million ($80 million).

Director Darren Singer said: ”The group is on track with its transformation to reduce operating losses while growing digital revenue and its international presence.

”The future will focus on ongoing improvement in underlying performance and reductions in cash used in operations, while continuing to grow audience reach and engagement, and prioritise innovation in award-winning journalism and editorial products.”

Mr Wood pulled his investment in The Global Mail, Australia’s first philanthropically-funded, not-for-profit news and features website, at the start of the year. He was the start-up’s non-executive chairman and had committed between $15 and $20 million to it.

The Guardian Australia’s readership is not audited by the Audited Media Association of Australia. According to Nielsen, The Guardian Australia was the country’s 9th best-read publication in May, with a unique audience of 1.86 million.

Mitch Brown relishing role at the back

Canterbury’s fill-in fullback Mitch Brown says he feels more important to the team as he enjoys his time in the No.1 jersey.

In the past two games, Brown has taken over from Sam Perrett, who will be sidelined for at least another two weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury.

The 26-year-old has spent most of his time in the NRL on the wing but spent his junior football at fullback. Brown said he was enjoying the switch.

“I’m getting more comfortable,” he said. “It’s becoming more second nature. I’m not thinking about it as much. I’m doing a fair bit of training there now. It’s a lot more involvement and pressure. It gets me into the game a lot more. I get my hands on the ball and be more part of the team and more important. It’s good.”

Brown will come up against Billy Slater when the Bulldogs travel to play Melbourne on Saturday night. Brown said it would be a good test.

“Slater is arguably the best fullback in the game and has been for 10 years now,” Brown said. “It’s always good to play him.”

Canterbury hammered the Storm 40-12 when they met in round four. Brown said they would face a tougher Melbourne outfit on Saturday, despite Origin midweek.

“They might have had an off-day with the terrible rain in Perth, they are such a quality team you have to respect them,” Brown said. “You can never go out there thinking we can do this or do that easily. They are tough everywhere. It’s going to be cold and could be wet we just have to role the sleeves up.”

The Bulldogs will be sweating on the return of halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds coming through Origin unscathed, while Melbourne have not named Cooper Cronk.

Brown said he expected Cronk to return for the Storm.

“They are handy players,” he said. “It’ll be tough. You expect everything and we will train as if everyone is playing. [We] always train for the worst. I think he’ll play but it’ll depend how he pulls up from Origin.”

The Bulldogs rose to join Penrith and Manly at the top of the ladder with their surprise 23-16 win against the Sea Eagles on Friday.

“It was our first win over the Origin period [and it was good to get it] especially against Manly [because] we have had that rivalry,” Brown said. “It was a good, hard win. We’ve got good depth in our team. Tony Williams and Josh Jackson played out of their skin in positions they haven’t really played before. Everyone worked as a team and trained hard.”

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen wants to lift Super Rugby trophy before leaving Australia

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen with his daughter Eleanor. The Mowens are almost packed before their move to France. Photo: Jay CronanACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has declared “near enough is it not good enough” as his team chases title glory, adding he wants to lift the Super Rugby trophy before he quits Australian rugby.

Mowen will equal Brumbies and Wallabies great George Gregan’s record as the club’s most capped skipper when he plays his 49th game for the ACT on Friday night.

But even as the Brumbies prepare to farewell 17 players and staff, Mowen said there was no room for sentiment if the team wanted to break a decade-long championship drought.

“Being near enough doesn’t get you a piece of silverware,” Mowen said.

“This group deserves something substantial for the work we have put in. I honestly believe there is a real opportunity in the next couple of weeks to give ourselves a crack of opening that up.

“Greegs won two championships … it doesn’t matter if you’ve captained the Brumbies 150 times, if you haven’t won a championship then you probably haven’t done your role properly.

“I think this group deserves a big piece of silverware to say this is why we made sacrifices. If we don’t give ourselves that chance, we’ll be disappointed. Making the final isn’t a result, we want to win it.”

Former Wallabies captain Mowen shocked Australian rugby when he announced in January he was quitting the Brumbies to sign with French club Montpellier.

The 29-year-old has been one of the major driving forces in transforming the Brumbies from a rabble at the end of 2011 to grand finalists in 2013.

The Brumbies need to beat the Western Force at Canberra Stadium to secure their place in the play-offs in back-to-back years for the first time since 2003-04.

A loss will almost certainly end the Brumbies’ season, but if they secure a losing bonus point and the Auckland Blues beat the Waikato Chiefs, the ACT could still make the finals.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is banking on his team’s “big game” experience to give it an edge in the battle against the Force.

The Brumbies will be bolstered by the return of flyhalf Matt Toomua, hooker Josh Mann-Rea and lock Sam Carter.

Pat McCabe and Joseph Tomane will add valuable depth to the Brumbies’ bench as they aim to win a last-round match for the first time since 2007.

“Having those guys coming off the bench can create maybe a little bit of fear in the opposition,” Larkham said.

“We’re certainly not talking about this being the final game of the season. We are talking about this being the start of our finals campaign.

“We feel as though we’re a big game team and this is certainly a big game for us. Every game is like a final in Super Rugby; our preparation is consistent and getting to the finals last year … that’s where we get the benefit from playing big games.”

Mowen has spent the past month packing up his Canberra home to prepare for his move to France.

He made his Test debut against the British and Irish Lions last year and was tipped to be part of Australia’s World Cup campaign.

Moving to France means he misses out on the chance to play at a World Cup, but Mowen said he was comfortable with his decision to leave Australia.

“Each day I show up at training [at Brumbies] I know it’s potentially the last time, but you don’t allow yourself too much time to reflect on that because you want to make sure there’s more to come. I’m excited,” Mowen said.

“I thought I’d play in Australia until the World Cup and have five or six years at the Brumbies.

“There were stages when I missed being in the Wallabies camp … but I know my priorities are elsewhere and you always return to the point where you’re comfortable with your decision.”