Illustration: John Shakespeare.
GRAINCORP managing director Alison Watkins remained scrupulously ''on message'', delivering a rebuff to suitor Archer Daniels Midland and revelling in another strong full-year profit result.
But there was one lapse, with some unscripted colour on a ballpark $20 million jump in repair and maintenance costs for the grain handling company. Watkins admitted GrainCorp had been carrying an increased ''R&M'' line over the past couple of years as it handled bumper grain harvests after a decade of drought.
''I would say that a lot of that is focused on some catch-up investment that we needed to do in the business. This business has had some pretty lean years in '07 and '08 … so there's been equipment, I guess, that's been wheeled out of sheds and found a bit wanting, so we've needed to make sure that that's been performing well.''
CBD can vouch for the performance of at least one of the GrainCorp's drive-over grain stackers. A rare trip outside Collins Street earlier this month, to Moree in northern New South Wales, indeed confirmed Watkins' old farm tools had been working around the clock.
Diary of an analyst
CBD for one has been enjoying the daily postcard from UBS's Australian resources analyst, Glyn Lawcock, since he arrived in China this week.
While the global focus has been on other activities in Beijing, Lawcock and his colleagues and some institutional clients launched their own resources-themed tour.
The excitement started building when Lawcock let slip it wasn't just going to be the usual Contiki shenanigans. Rather the itinerary will involve ''discussions with all sorts of personalities, including economists, transport doyens, coal and gold ore diggers, purveyors of cement, makers of steel and aluminum-bearing products''.
And on Thursday Lawock had gone the full Bill Bryson. ''Another clear day in Beijing, with the mountains on the northern margin of the city, over 50km away, clearly visible,'' he wrote in his latest instalment.
''Today, we're out and about in Beijing's chilly air, having discussions with coal and gold miners, aluminium and cement producers and checking out China's legendary railway industry''.
Angst at Mirvac
MIRVAC'S board of directors were subjected to a barrage of complaints by grumpy shareholders at Thursday's annual talk-fest.
It lasted as long as a screening of Gone With The Wind, or 3½ hours, and the new board members, led by chairman James MacKenzie, fielded shareholder complaints including heated discussion over MacKenzie's re-election.
Meanwhile, finance director Greg Dyer found his discussion about capital allocation needed more polishing. One shareholder said she was lost after about a minute into his speech, while another said: ''This gobbledegook style is counterproductive.'' This prompted Mackenzie to say the board was obliged to follow the law, to which a shareholder yelled, ''Then get another lawyer.''
Observing the proceedings were a cast of fund managers, including UBS's Pat Barrett, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Simon Shakesheff and Macquarie Bank's Antony Green. In the back stalls was the former head of rival property interest Dexus, Victor Hoog Antick.
CABCHARGE'S long-term commitment to boardroom diversity is looking more like a fling.
In its annual report, Cabcharge crowed about its embrace of boardroom diversity with the appointment of Sharon Doyle - its former company secretary - as a director late last year.
''Cabcharge's commitment to diversity in the workplace includes background, gender, ethnicity, disability, culture and experience,'' the company said.
Released on the same day as the annual report was notice of Cabcharge's annual meeting, which reported that Doyle would not stand for re-election at the meeting later this month and will retire as a director straight after.
Investors will be left to mull over the $758,000 Doyle was paid last year, including a $454,242 termination payment. This includes one year's pay on resignation after 18 years' service.
Investors will also get to ask company founder, chairman, chief executive, and octogenarian, Reg Kermode about the $1 million he has raised from selling most of his shares in the company over the course of this year.
Good one, granny
AFTER kicking Mirvac out of the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney, the World Congress of Australia's Chief Executives Union (aka the Business Council of Australia) took place on Thursday night, and CBD had a front-row seat.
It didn't take long for Business Council president and Greater Western Sydney club chairman Tony Shepherd to launch into his favourite topic: productivity.
In a short but productive six-minute speech, he kept on message - hitting the key word seven times.
Shepherd also let slip a revealing insight into how the BCA took seriously a bit of his grandmother's home-spun philosophy.
''We are not hypochondriacs at the BCA, but we are strong believers that prevention is always better than a cure,'' Shepherd said.