License article

Lowy split gets a sporting jinx

With Westfield Retail investors gearing up to vote on the latest proposed split of the Lowy empire on Friday, the pressure is mounting on the chairman of the renegade trust, Richard Francis Egerton-Warburton, AO, LVO, EIEIO (OK, CBD made the last one up).

There is a feeling in some quarters that WRT's board - led by Mr Alphabet Egerton-Warburton - may have jinxed the previous meeting to approve the split before it even began.

At issue is the test question chosen for WRT's investor audience to see if their electronic voting thingamebobbies were working properly.

WRT asked its investors whether the AFL should bring back its state of origin series, which received 99 per cent approval.

This was a clear rebuke to the Frank Lowy-chaired Westfield Group which - obviously seeking neutral ground - eschewed the round ball code and asked its investors ''Will NSW win all three State of Origin games?''

The answer was a resounding 83 per cent yes vote.


So the question is whether the WRT board will choose a test question that signals insurrection is afoot, or, build bridges with its Westfield Group overlords.

Perhaps a vote on the Socceroos chances in their third World Cup match against Spain the following week? Or, it could play to the audience and ask who is the hot favourite to take out the 2014 Australian Indoor Championship at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club in August.

Lowy, who will be monitoring things from his World Cup base camp in New York, will no doubt be channelling his underdog approach to Australia's World Cup chances.

When it was put to Lowy last month that, on paper, the other teams were vastly superior, he replied: ''Life is not about paper, life is about action and that's what I'm looking forward to.''

ASIC still silent

There is still no word from ASIC on the progress of its beauty parade to find a ''proper'' independent expert to oversee Commonwealth Bank's wealth mismanagement fiasco.

ASIC chairman, Greg Medcraft, did not spare Commbank on this issue at the recent Senate estimates hearing, but CBD could not help but notice that the bank's tango partner remains out of the spotlight.

With specific reference to Commbank, Medcraft made it clear that one of the lessons the regulator learned is ''the level of trust and confidence, frankly, was misplaced.''

The fact that the cash-strapped regulator has spent about $1 million policing the Commonwealth Bank's wealth management fiasco probably did not help the chairman's mood.

''I think that when we deal with others we probably are going to be a hell of a lot more sceptical going forward,'' Medcraft promised.

Medcraft specifically mentioned that ASIC will be far less inclined to let an organisation appoint their own ''independent expert'' in future, but who was Commonwealth Bank's independent expert that ASIC took issue with? Its very independent auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

''PwC takes the issue of independence seriously and we have rigorous safeguards in place to ensure it is upheld,'' a PWC spokesman told CBD.

Commbank delay

CBD was told not to read too much into the fact that nearly a month has passed since ASIC and Commonwealth Bank agreed to impose new conditions on the bank's financial planning licences, yet details of the changes have yet to be lodged.

An ASIC spokesman said, that the new licence conditions ''need to be carefully drafted'' so it is very clear what the bank's financial planning businesses have to do.

Commonwealth Bank faces having the licences revoked if there is a breach of the conditions.

Murdoch Googles

The princes of print at News Corp may be taking up the cudgels against new interloper the Daily Mail, but Rupert Murdoch's empire has obviously kissed and made up with Google.

It barely seems like yesterday that the 'Sun King' was railing against the search engine for being a ''parasite'' and a ''content kleptomaniac'', according to a quick Google by CBD.

Water under the bridge it seems.

News Corp is now relying on Google for its internal email system just like us print heretics at Fairfax.

It is unclear if Rupert himself is communicating to his troops on Google email, or, if he is sticking to Twitter as his main form of communication.

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