Given the tenseness of the past week through a series of releases to the media, the extraordinary general meeting of Ardent shareholders on September 4, called by major shareholder Ariadne, should be a fiery affair.
But there are a few hurdles for Gary Weiss and Kevin Seymour’s Ariadne to get over, one being that Ardent has already won support from 8 per cent shareholder Ausbil Investment Management, which said Ariadne was trying to take control of Ardent without paying a premium and without having demonstrated why it would do a better job.
Thomas resigns as Ardent CEO
Deborah Thomas steps down as CEO of Ardent Leisure, the parent company of Dreamworld, six months after a ride tragedy claimed four lives at the theme park. Nine News
“What they are proposing is a takeover by stealth,” Ausbil chief executive Paul Xiradis said. “Why would shareholders support it and effectively hand over control without a premium?”
According to CBD’s spies, the tough approach of the Sir Ron Brierley protege, Gary Weiss has put off a number of shareholders, as well as the board of Ardent, with one proposed strategy being to sell or redevelop Dreamworld and sell Main Event, the US company now producing more than 50 per cent of the group’s profit.
Illustration: John Shakespeare
Prominent Queensland property developer Seymour, who recently bought a $400,000 bright red Ferrari California for his 21-year old grandson, Ben, has already flagged his interest in the Dreamworld property.
But Kevin may have to give Gary a lift in the red car, which he said he may drive “occasionally”, as Mrs Seymour has refused to drive in it, saying it’s too pretentious.
Meanwhile, Gary will be keeping a close eye on what’s happening at the Australian Rugby League Commission, which is about to lose John Grant as chairman.
Ex-union boss Kathy Jackson has long struggled with rules – like the finer points of the Corporations Act, which state it is illegal to use work credit cards to pay for personal holidays, clothes or mortgage repayments.
More charges have been laid against former union leader Kathy Jackson. Photo: Joe Castro
All her time spent unsuccessfully fighting those sorts of claims in a Federal Court civil suit apparently didn’t impress on her how finickety court types get about rules and such.
On Monday morning, in the middle of a hearing into her alleged theft of half a million dollars of Health Services Union funds, Jackson was given a brisk refresher.
As prosecutors and defence counsel laboured over the slew of allegations against her – there are 164 charges on the sheet now – the one-time whistleblower got up and made for the courtroom door, but was quickly stopped in her tracks.
“I don’t think you can just leave the court, Ms Jackson,” said magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg.
As a side note, the last time CBD spotted Jackson and Rozencwajg in the same room was when another HSU boss Craig Thomson was fighting charges over allegations of credit card misuse. Jackson was along as a prosecution witness.
Anyhow back to Monday’s court room where Jackson turned to the magistrate and mouthed that she needed to use the bathroom.
“Well,” Rozencwajg said, “get your counsel to ask.”
Jackson was eventually allowed to leave.
With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull struggling in the newspolls, one would think he would be looking to his old mates at the pointy end of the city for some support.
But it seems, even they could be leaving him off the lunch invite list, given how worked up chief execs are about the abolition of 457 work visas.
Of course, the visas are being replaced with temporary skills shortage visas, but this hasn’t done much to win the hearts and minds of the business world – generally the heartland of the Liberal Party.
At the Crawford Australian Leadership Forum in Canberra on Monday, a coterie of heavy-hitters didn’t hold back on their disdain of the move, calling the plan, “hypocritical” and “retrograde”.
Even Jamie Briggs, the former Turnbull government frontbencher, who quit after an “incident” in a Hong Kong bar, popped in to see what was happening, wearing his new PwC hat.
The most vocal at the forum were Coca-Cola head, Alison Watkins, whose group employs workers on 457 visas and miner Woodside’s Peter Coleman, who needs a vast array of different staff.
But the PM always assures the voters that he never looks at opinion polls, so we guess it’s more white noise circulating around the alleyways of Canberra.