Stevens won’t get on board

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS REVIEW - CHRIS­TINE LACY & BEN BUT­LER

It’s a smell that’s ex­pected to linger for years. And it seems for­mer Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor and 40-year cen­tral bank vet­eran Glenn Stevens might have a highly sen­si­tive ol­fac­tory func­tion.

The money-laun­der­ing scan­dal that has en­gulfed the Cather­ine Liv­ing­stone-chaired and Ian Narev-led Com­mon­wealth Bank is con­tin­u­ing to amass ca­su­al­ties.

Ear­lier this month Liv­ing­stone an­nounced that for­mer West­pac exec and NSW Trea­sury sec­re­tary Rob Whit­field would join her busy board, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately.

Liv­ing­stone’s is a bank board­room in flux. At the same time as Whit­field’s well-flagged ap­point­ment, long-term CBA di­rec­tors Launa In­man and Har­ri­son Young told the mar­ket they would re­tire at the CBA an­nual meet­ing to be held on Novem­ber 16.

Mean­time, for­mer AMP boss An­drew Mohl, who is up for re­elec­tion to the CBA board at the meet­ing, has said he will serve only one more year.

But word is Liv­ing­stone, in light of the Fed­eral Court ac­tion against CBA by Austrac and APRA’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, might be hav­ing some trou­ble get­ting bums on her his­tor­i­cally pres­ti­gious seats.

The scut­tle­butt is that Stevens — a year on from walk­ing out of the RBA for the last time and hav­ing just joined the in­flu­en­tial O’Con­nell Street As­so­ciates, now lo­cated at Aurora Place on Phillip Street — was set to join the CBA board, but pulled out this week on deeper con­tem­pla­tion of all that the bank faces over the next few years.

That in­cludes find­ing a new chief ex­ec­u­tive to re­place Narev.

It’s not as if Stevens, who re­cently ac­cepted a po­si­tion as ad­viser at Eller­ston Cap­i­tal’s new global macro fund, would be bereft of op­tions, par­tic­u­larly given his new of­fice mates at O’Con­nell.

We sus­pect the for­mer gov­er­nor, who’s been re­placed by Philip Lowe, can af­ford to be choosy.

Pre­mium project

High-pro­file prop­erty de­vel­oper

and young richie Tim Gurner has called in the big guns at top law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler to deal with, er, lit­tle old Mar­gin Call.

We chat­ted with Toorak res­i­dent Gurner Fri­day af­ter­noon about all sorts of ter­ri­ble — and, he tells us, com­pletely un­true — talk that’s abroad about his Bris­bane megade­vel­op­ment, FV.

Help­fully, ABL part­ner Zaven Mardirossian quickly fol­lowed up with an email mak­ing sure we un­der­stood just how wrong it would be to pub­lish a num­ber of “demon­stra­bly false, mis­lead­ing and highly in­ju­ri­ous as­ser­tions” about the 651-apart­ment de­vel­op­ment. It’s al­ways great to be set straight.

Gurner clearly doesn’t share the fears of a Bris­bane apart­ment glut ex­pressed by RBA chief Philip Lowe or the more gen­eral fears of sec­toral apoc­a­lypse ex­pressed by vet­eran de­vel­oper Harry Triguboff.

All eyes are on the suc­cess of FV, in Brisve­gas’s salu­bri­ous For­ti­tude Val­ley, and Gurner has a lot on the line — he tells us he’s given the ANZ, which has loaned $180m to­wards the project, a per­sonal guar­an­tee.

Hap­pily, ac­cord­ing to Gurner, buy­ers are flock­ing to set­tle on apart­ments in the first build­ing in the project, a mod­ernised and over­sized riff on Man­hat­tan’s iconic Flat­iron build­ing.

Glenn Stevens says thanks but no thanks

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