Illustration: John Shakespeare
TOP executives at Perennial Investment Partners have failed in a lawsuit they brought against Perennial's owner, IOOF, over a $35 million pay dispute.
Executives Mike Crivelli, Anthony Patterson, John Murray and Kerry Series, who didn't take part in the lawsuit, sold their 21.85 per cent stake in Perennial to IOOF in 2006. IOOF already owned the rest. They collected $67.9 million, with extra money to come either as a slice of profits in 2009 or if there was a change in control of IOOF.
In a change of control, the execs were entitled to $35.3 million: $7.8 million for Crivelli, $9.58 million for Series, $13.8 million for Patterson and $4.11 million for Murray.
They alleged this clause was triggered by the merger of IOOF and Australian Wealth Managers, announced in November 2008, because AWM's shareholders ended up owning about 70 per cent of IOOF. The executives said AWM shareholders who voted for the merger were acting in concert to control the make-up of IOOF's board.
Not so, said New South Wales Supreme Court judge James Stevenson.
Justice Stevenson said AWM's shareholders were instead ''separately pursuing their own interests [acquiring a stake in IOOF]'' and noted that this was ''not surprising'' as the deal had been unanimously recommended by AWM's board.
''The board of IOOF remained controlled by directors nominated by IOOF. The shareholding in IOOF remained widely held, without any party having a controlling interest,'' he said.
If they were to receive the change of control payment, the executives ''would achieve a windfall of a kind that, in my opinion, could not possibly have been contemplated by the parties to the share sale agreement'', he said.
IOOF corporate affairs manager Melinda Hofman declined to comment on the stoush.
Extraordinarily, she would not even say whether the executives in question still worked for IOOF.
But documents filed with ASIC show that Crivelli, who was Perennial's chairman, and Patterson both resigned as directors of Perennial in January this year. Murray is still listed on the company's website as managing director of the Perennial Value division, which must make for some office awkwardness.
Still a country boy
HAPPINESS, according to BHP Billiton's chief of petroleum, Mike Yeager, is made of ice-creams, Walmarts and tractors.
Last week Yeager was playing host to journalists from around the world who had travelled to the US to see the shale operation the mining giant picked up for $20 billion last year.
''When I lived in South Texas where we are gonna drive tomorrow, on a Saturday night we would go get an ice-cream cone, go walk around Walmart and look at the tractors, and that's what you do because there is not much to do down there,'' he told the assembled throng. ''That's what we enjoy also,'' he said.
Dodo still flapping
IS THERE anything a dodo can't do? Well, fly, obviously. But the company of the same name, which sells internet access, mobile phone plans, home phone connections and electricity, yesterday put the business world into a flap with news it intends to diversify further, into insurance and gas.
Dodo's big bird, Larry Kestelman, slammed the insurance industry for not having enough competition, and promised the same ''high-value, low-cost services'' Dodo's telco and power customers already enjoy.
Dodo's ''high-value, low-cost'' record speaks for itself.
In 2003, the Federal Court found Kestelman and fellow Dodo director Mark Baranov were knowingly involved in the company's misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct.
Dodo ran into more trouble with the consumer watchdog in 2009 and 2010 over allegedly deceptive advertising.
Baranov left the company and got into property development. Sadly, that ended badly, with his storage company liquidated.
His Toorak office and his $7 million mansion in Caulfield North were both seized by creditors and he was declared bankrupt in 2010 on the application of the company that built his tennis court and was owed $10,800.
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