Haunted by private equiteers
What have Australia’s most infamous private equiteers Robin Bishop, Ben Gray and Simon Harle got against former CSL chief financial officer Tony Cipa?
Cipa is a director on the Tracey Horton-chaired board of education business Navitas, which this week received an intriguing $2 billion takeover offer from the private equiteers, Australia’s biggest superannuation fund AustralianSuper (an existing Navitas shareholder, with a 5.4 per cent stake) and Navitas’s founder Rodney Jones (who owns 12.6 per cent of the group).
It’s the second time this year the 63-year-old Cipa has found himself on a board under siege from a formidable alliance of Bishop, Gray and Harle’s $2.6 billion private equity fund BGH and Ian Silk’s $140 billion AustralianSuper.
Cipa is also a board member of the Paula Dwyer-chaired private hospital group Healthscope, which in April was pounced on by a similar BGH-led consortium that included AustralianSuper as an exclusive partner.
BGH and their co-investors have not entirely given up on their $4 billion Healthscope bid, despite being rebuffed by the board. Their co-operation agreement is yet to expire.
Horton’s Navitas board — which along with Cipa includes David Robb, a director of the Melbourne Football Club no doubt familiar with Bishop, an AFL commissioner — is being advised by Simon Rothery’s Goldman Sachs.
Considering his expertise in dealing with BGH-led bids, it’s perhaps not a surprise to hear Cipa is leading the Navitas takeover response.
Margin Call hears Cipa and the BGH crew had a bit of a laugh about the familiarity of the situation.
Disappointingly for readers looking to Cipa for clues on BGH’s next target, Navitas and Healthscope are his only two directorships. Enough to keep him busy right now.
No role for Cato
For all the striking similarities,
there are some changes on the BGH team this time around.
Morgan Stanley is acting as the BGH-led consortium’s financial adviser, we hear, because of a long relationship with rich-lister Rodney Jones.
And, unlike in the recent Healthscope tilt (and almost every other Ben Gray- related escapade over the last decade), spin queen Sue Cato is not involved.
It seems Cato and Gray’s longstanding working relationship has come to an end — for now, at least.
She’s no poodle
It was hardly a secret that Lucy Turnbull was a key adviser to Malcolm Turnbull throughout his political career and prime ministership. Nothing wrong with that. Nor is there anything wrong with the influential role Jackie Stricker-Phelps has in the political career of her wife Kerryn Phelps, the independent candidate trying to succeed Turnbull in the seat of Wentworth.
Indeed, it seems fitting considering the seat’s recent history.
Like the Greater Sydney Commission grand-poobah Lucy Turnbull, Stricker-Phelps is keen on local politics.
But they have very different communications strategies.
Just have a look at the enthusiastic contributions the Potts Point-residing StrickerPhelps has made in recent months to a Facebook group devoted to her local neighbourhood.
“I am sick of dodging bikes on the footpath. My poodle has nearly been run over (on the leash) on a daily basis by food delivery people and idiots who ride on the footpath,” StrickerPhelps wrote.
Poodle problems. We’ve all had them.
Much like Donald Trump’s approach, these exercises in local political expression can come at any hour.
One fellow Potts Pointer noted one furious contribution was delivered at a Trumpian 3am.
“That’s because I was awake at 3am and furious about the issue,” Stricker-Phelps replied. Fair enough. Her candidate wife Phelps is also notably responsive on social media (although less fond of all caps than her wife is).
Should they be successful in their Canberra tilt against the Liberals’ Dave Sharma, you’ll hearing a lot more from the political couple — at all hours of the day.
Soccer it to me
Stephen Conroy remains as enthusiastic as a snowboarder in Beaver Creek about next month replacing Steven Lowy as the chair of Football Federation Australia. Or so Margin Call is told. Over the coming fortnight, candidates are being canvassed by the sporting code’s recently enlarged voters.
Barring a new contender emerging, we understand Conroy remains the favourite.
Should the former Labor senator get the gig, some are interested to see how he would manage the role with his day job as the chair of Responsible Wagering Australia, a lobbying outfit for the online gambling industry.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Nothing is certain in this world — especially not anything in the orbit of FIFA.
Make mine a Coke
Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp was along at The Australian and Melbourne Institute’s Outlook Conference yesterday, giving us the perfect opportunity to solve a months- long puzzle. Is the mayor really selling the vending machine business she owns with David Fox, one of the scions of the $3.56 billion Fox family fortune and a recent donor to Capp’s mayoral race?
Sources in June told Margin Call a sale of the business was imminent.
Coincidentally, that was after we first asked about the commercial arrangement.
Five months on, the company paperwork for the vending machine operation Pro Vending Pty Ltd looks unchanged.
Capp and Fox each have a 25 per cent stake, alongside Sam Arcuri and Enio Di Donato.
Has the “imminent” sale been put on hold? Or was the sale chatter just a ruse?
The mayor yesterday politely declined to comment, saying it was a private business matter.
Not you again! Tony Cipa and private equiteer Ben Gray
Kerryn Phelps, Jackie Stricker-Phelps and the endangered poodle