BoQ boss lost for words when it comes to the unkindest cut of all

Bank of Queensland staff were probably breathing a sigh of relief when the bank sent out a press release on Tuesday morning. 

That was not a knife in the pocket of their chief executive, Jon Sutton, it was a refined operating model. 

Lost for words: Jon Sutto, Bank of Queensland chief executive.
Lost for words: Jon Sutto, Bank of Queensland chief executive. Photo: Michelle Smith

There were none of the painful euphemisms that corporates traditionally use to massage the message when it comes to job losses. 

Sutton managed to get through an entire press release on the bank's plans to "reshape its organisational structure" without addressing the fact that it meant 50 of the bank's valued employees will soon become former valued employees.  

Illustration: John Shakespeare.
Illustration: John Shakespeare. 

The closest that Sutton got to addressing the job losses was in a sentence stating the need to build "a more flexible and efficient operating model ... This will also improve the way we work by reducing duplication and manual processes and will assist us in finding better ways to share capabilities across the group".

"Job losses are minimal," said Sutton when questioned later about the delicate matter. 

It was not a good day for banks in general, but it appears the markets were particularly unhappy with BoQ and the latest admission that its profit margins will not be where they should be. 

The stock plunged below $12, shredding about $260 million from the bank's market value.  

Investors may have been wishing they had taken the hint and sold stock in December. This was when Sutton offloaded more than half his stake in the bank at $13.50 a share.

Bye bye Biggles

Should we read anything into the fact that, in the end, boganaire Nathan Tinkler was undone by his love for corporate jets and choppers rather than his penchant for the nags and the millions he owes retail billionaire Gerry Harvey.

The hard nuts at General Electric Commercial did not prove to be as malleable as Tinkler's other creditors and have claimed their pound of flesh and snookered his latest corporate comeback if it makes the bankruptcy stick. 

Not that you would bet against Tinkler's ability to work around the problem with his new business buddies, pearler Nick Paspaley and fellow Northern Territory identity John "Foxy" Robinson.

They are helping to finance the purchase of a NSW coal mine from Anglo American by Tinkler's latest venture, Australian Pacific Coal.

Cheque mate 

The pay day loan industry still has a friend in big finance. It just has to travel a little further afield.

Cash Converters has announced that it has found a replacement for Westpac, which became the last of the Big Four to dump pay day lenders from its loan book last year. 

Apparently the Big Four did not like being associated with an industry that charges unconscionable fees and rates. 

What's that you say? Pot, kettle, black?

The New York outfit, Fortress Investment Group, will fill  the funding gap as of next month – on slightly better terms than what Cash Converters offers to its customers. 

"The terms and conditions of the new facility are more aligned to the business strategy of the company than our previous supplier," said Cash Converters boss Peter Cumins.

Given that Cash Converters has paid out tens of millions of dollars to settle law suits relating to its business practices, your columnist is not sure what Cumins is trying to say about its new business partner.

Fortress recently finished its long-running relationship with another great Aussie success story, Octaviar. 

For those who came in late: Octaviar, originally known as MFS, was the Gold Coast financial group which spectacularly collapsed in 2008 owing $2.5 billion. 

The liquidators got tetchy about the repayments Octaviar was making to its financier, Fortress, ahead of its implosion.

Barely a month ago, the liquidators settled the $300 million law suit for $10 million. That sounds like a win for Fortress, so no wonder they are coming back for more. 

Dog house 

ASIC's blitzkrieg of local crap cap, Sino Australia Oil and Gas, hit a rare hurdle on Monday. 

The Federal Court decided that the company's board had enough corporate coherence to validly appoint administrators in May last year. ASIC was hoping the court would declare the appointment invalid.

The administrators will now get back pay, which is wonderful news for investors who will almost certainly kiss goodbye the millions they paid into the 2014 float.

Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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