All eyes on appointment of Scott Morrison's right-hand man
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All eyes on appointment of Scott Morrison's right-hand man

It's the toughest job in the office, and the second most powerful, so all eyes are on who Prime Minister Scott Morrison picks as his principal private secretary to replace Malcolm Turnbull's political consigliere Sally Cray.

Sally Cray effectively ran Malcolm Turnbull's office when he was prime minister.

Sally Cray effectively ran Malcolm Turnbull's office when he was prime minister.

Photo: Andrew Meares
Yaron Finkelstein.

Yaron Finkelstein.

Photo: Daniel Munoz

And it looks almost certain to be Liberal grandee Yaron Finkelstein.

Cray ran Turnbull's office. She was a sharp operator known for her colourful threats including her suggestion she would resign her job, call Daily Telegraph editor Chris Dore, and spill the dirt on NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro after being angered by his performance on 2GB.

Finkelstein, who worked for former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson and ended up at the party's favourite pollsters Crosby Textor, will work with former Abbott staffer Paul Ritchie, who has new Marvel cufflinks to match his new gig. Some Turnbull staffers are expected to stay in Morrison's office, including legal advisor Daniel Ward and policy man David Hughes.

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Virgin Australia departee John Thomas is not happy

Is Virgin Australia’s recently departed second-in-charge John Thomas angling for a return to the airline in the wake of chief executive John Borghetti’s planned departure?

He was once tipped to become Virgin Australia's chief executive, but John Thomas is not happy about reports that say otherwise.

He was once tipped to become Virgin Australia's chief executive, but John Thomas is not happy about reports that say otherwise.

Photo: Peter Rae

John Thomas left Virgin last July, less than a year after he joined as the head of the airline’s domestic and international business.

Last week the Herald tipped John Thomas to be low on the Virgin board’s list of contenders for the top job, with Borghetti announcing his plans to leave by the end of next year. This has clearly left him less than impressed.

Indeed, John Thomas was so unhappy he wrote to your columnist, complaining there was "no reasonable basis for you referring to me or making these comments about me, either in the context of the article or more generally at this time".

But that’s not the case for more glowing write-ups, including two in The Australian, which John Thomas enjoyed so thoroughly that he posted them to his Facebook page. Both are critical of current management and tip him as a likely Borghetti replacement.

“Former Virgin executive John Thomas could be put forward as chief executive by a new activist investor with the backing of most of the airline’s current investors,” one story reads.

John Thomas’s former executive assistant at Virgin, Roxy Brunton, who left the airline and joined News Corp Australia as executive assistant to chief financial officer Stacey Brown, is a big backer.“#BringbackJT”, she commented, having shared the Facebook post.

For what it’s worth, CBD still tips Westpac consumer bank boss George Frazis and John Thomas’s replacement Rob Sharp as the most likely contenders for the gig.

By George, Frazis Jr hits the big time with Ellerston

Speculation about George’s big move is hardly the most exciting thing to happen for the Frazis family in the last week, with his hedge fund manager son, Michael Frazis, shifting offices to the James Packer-backed Ellerston Capital.

To celebrate, George threw Michael, who officially runs Frazis Capital Partners, a cocktail reception last Wednesday at his Bondi Beach pad.

Ellerston, run by Packer lieutenant Ashok Jacob, is a quiet operator. (Query: what happened to the $750 million farming investment fund Jacob raised with former trade minister turned Gina Rinehart sidekick Andrew Robb?)

Ashok Jacob, chairman of Ellerston Capital, has taken George Frazis's son Michael into the office.

Ashok Jacob, chairman of Ellerston Capital, has taken George Frazis's son Michael into the office.

Photo: Brendon Thorne

But Ellerston is likely on a winning wicket with Frazis, with an August investment update sent CBD’s way showing it was making its investors a 19 per cent return every year since 2016.

Frazis Jr, who got his start at Goldman Sachs’s Special Situations Group (where prominent Labor supporter Alex Turnbull also once worked), has made big money investing in tech companies Afterpay, Xero and Alibaba in the last two years. A punt on Tanzanian graphite outfit Magnis has been the least successful, as has a bet on Elon Musk’s languishing car manufacturer Tesla.

Steel man steals Sushi-e chef for Circular Quay play

Campbell’s Stores in The Rocks may be in line for a battering from lawyers engaged by Sydney lunch establishment Pendolino, but plenty of others still see an opportunity.

An artist's impression of the Campbell's Stores building, where Eddie Younes is planning on opening two restaurants.

An artist's impression of the Campbell's Stores building, where Eddie Younes is planning on opening two restaurants.

Photo: Supplied

Proline Steel boss Eddie Younes is the next putting big money into the Sydney restaurant scene, with the help of former Sushi-e chef Nobuyuki Ura, CBD is told.

Younes’s company Sakura Management quietly registered the Ura San name late November last year, and he’s also planning to open a second restaurant at the heritage Circular Quay site beside the Park Hyatt, a 100-seater seafood spot, with his son Bill Younes.

That adds those names to Seagrass Boutique Hospitality’s new steakhouse 6 Head 1788 and a rumoured restaurant from the owners of the Pacific Club Bondi Beach.

Kylar is The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age's CBD columnist. He recently covered federal politics, business and NSW politics for News Corp.