How’s this great story from the latest Noseweek!

It’s well know that Noseweek and Investec have had a running battle for a few years – now it seems the banks’ mandarins are running a campaign of harassment amongst their senior execs to see who is responsible for the leaks:

Investec has had scores of its Johannesburg staff polygraphed in an attempt to identify the mole/s who passed confidential information to noseweek exposing the R1.5bn debt – and inability to service it – of its VIP client, property developer Zunaid Moti (nose118).

There has been a flurry of urgent meetings at the bank’s headquarters, with individuals hauled in for vigorous interrogation. The problem is that every banking employee at Investec has their own code to access the bank’s internal Radar system – which contains the information relayed by noseweek – and there’s no facility in place to track who logs in for sensitive information on clients such as Moti.


[I’m coming after you]

By 11 August, amidst great secrecy, 38 employees had been persuaded to “voluntarily” take lie-detector tests at Warren Goldblatt’s private eye firm SSG Forensic Consultants, whose premises were made available to the sub-contracted polygraph tester.


The internal probe is concentrated on staff in the bank’s recoveries and property finance departments and noseweek hears there’s a “substantial” reward on offer for information leading to the mole’s identification.



Cricket bible goes digital. One hundred and forty five years after it was first published, Wisden, the cricket bible, is joining the digital age. Bloomsbury, which bought the publication last November, said yesterday that the 2009 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack would be available in e-book format by November, with several other Wisden titles. – The Australian


BUNGLING Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson has wrecked another luxury motor – after smashing into a DUSTCART.
The car fanatic, 54, suffered bruising to his face and ribs when his silver Audi convertible hit the rubbish van head-on on his driveway.

The cart driver, 46, was unhurt but Rowan’s car is a write-off.

A pal said: “It’s a mangled wreck.”

Rowan, who lives in Apethorpe, Northants, has had three other prangs in the past decade – two in his £100,000 Aston Martin V8 Zagato and another in his £650,000 McLaren F1.




Qantas diaries 1: Qantas Frequent Flyer disloyalty … I have a friend who had been flying Qantas almost exclusively for the past 15 or so years. Some years he got “free” Qantas Club when he flew enough, some years he didn’t so he happily paid for Qantas Club access. Come this year, his flying has been reduced but still wanted to access the Qantas Club when he did fly. He got his “Welcome to Silver” letter from Qantas but thought nothing more of it. He phoned up and they told him, too bad, you can’t renew, you need to rejoin and therefore pay the exorbitant joining fee again. It doesn’t matter that they can see that he’s been a Qantas Club member for 15 years, he still has to pay to join again. Escalating up to the head of Qantas dis-loyalty achieved nothing. It seems that things are so great for the airline industry at the moment, that Qantas will happily burn a 15-year frequent flyer without a second thought. They expect customers to be loyal to Qantas, how about some loyalty in return.
Qantas diaries 2: Shock Horror! I returned on the weekend from a work trip that saw me fly Melbourne to London and back with Qantas (QF9 and QF10) with a great many Qantas affiliate flights in between. How does 10 legs and 8 different airports in 15 days sound? Well shock horror and hold onto your seats here, everything was just fine. All flights left on time or within 30 minutes of schedule, no lost bags, no missed connections, the food was mostly edible (I was in economy — dam that crisis!). The only thing that didn’t work was the Qantas entertainment system on the Singapore–London leg for about an hour while the attendant doggedly and ultimately successfully did everything she could do to fix it. How dare Qantas manage to meet expectations … now I have no stories to tell. To make matters worse, they even get me into Melbourne on the final and home leg 45 minutes early. I was worried my taxi guy wouldn’t be at the airport yet (he was).

Spare us this

Filed Under Live, Play | 1 Comment


“FUNNYMAN” Robin Williams says he has been asked to track down his Mrs Doubtfire glad rags and play Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle in a movie.

The actor, a box office hit when he cross-dressed to play Mrs Doubtfire in 1993, has been approached by Hollywood film executives to play the 48-year-old singing sensation’s remarkable rise to stardom.

“I’ve been asked if I want to play Susan in the movie,” Williams, 57, reportedly told the Daily Star newspaper in the UK.

“I think she’s incredible. That clip of her singing on Britain’s Got Talent was extraordinary. So inspiring. It was quite a shock when she began to sing.

“I saw some other clip of her singing Cry Me A River a few years ago. It was incredible. She’s got a really great voice.”

To prove how good he would be as Susan Boyle, Williams has been doing impressions of her by belting out her audition song I Dreamed A Dream in a thick Scots accent to his mates.

Williams is one of an army of US celebrities who have taken the spinster to their hearts since she first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year.

Boyle is finishing an album, with the first single expected to be Cry Me A River, and is now manageed by Britain’s Got Talent judge Simon Cowell.


IMG 5305

Enjoying the Cape Winter sunshine.

It’s been a busy week in little of Cape Town what with a spot of work, much taking advantage of the 2 for 1 eating specials as restaurants hang on grimly for the season and getting the Z3 on the road – albeit with temporary plates.

After the trip up the Weskus, we took Aunty Pam out for dinner which was a fine occasion – she has shrunk! To continue the family theme we went out for dinner with Belinda and Andy after popping in to John and Celia’s to see the extension and to witness Aless managing the entire family without skipping a beat.

Cape Town continue to build and build and build. Traffic snarls up at every corner as the city tries to frantically get ready for the big Cup next year. Will they be ready? Won’t they? seems to become part of every conversation. Only time will tell.

After a lunch with John and Mark from TPP – we saw this wonderful sight against the side of a CT building: Aussie Occ. Health and Safety would be impressed!


Tot later

Simon and Lovonne

US-based corporate governance group, Corporate Library, last week released its annual study of CEO remuneration. The report showed further proof that while shareholders may have suffered from the global financial crisis, executives haven’t had been doing it too tough, with a private equity boss and a host of energy CEOs leading the charge.

The highest paid executive in 2008 out of 3300 companies analysed by Corporate Library was Blackstone founder and CEO, Stephen Schwarzman. However, Schwarzman’s pay of US$702 million (yes, that’s right, seven-hundred-million) wasn’t really remuneration, rather, it represented payment for Schwarzman’s holding in company which is being paid to him in four instalments, rather than as a lump sum at the time of Blackstone’s initial public offering. (Blackstone’s Annual Report notes that neither Schwarzman, nor lieutenant, Pete Peterson, received equity awards or cash bonuses last year).

Schwarzman is perhaps most famous not for his outstanding skill as a private equity fund manager, but rather, as the man who threw himself a 60th birthday party in 2007 which cost more than US$3 million. That party, which became synonymous with private equity’s self-indulgence, led to Schwarzman being dubbed the designated villain of an era on Wall Street by James Stewart.

The Corporate Library noted that Schwarzman’s remuneration (which is cash terms, was only US$350,000) was determined by a compensation committee consisting of Schwarzman himself. Of course, the notion of a publicly-owned private equity firm itself is somewhat of an anachronism, PE firms (often correctly) point out that privately-held businesses are more efficient and profitable than publicly owned companies. It seems however that Blackstone are believers in doing as they say, not as they do. The company’s share price has certainly not performed well since listing at US$35 in July 2007, currently sitting on $14.05 per share — a fall of almost 60%.

Schwarzman was far from the only grotesquely paid executive last year. Oracle boss and avid sailor, Larry Ellison, cashed in options worth more than US$540 million according to Corporate Library (although other metrics placed Ellison’s remuneration at a more paltry US$84 million). Either way, the four-times married Ellison arguably didn’t really need the money; his net worth believed to be approximately US$25 billion, making him the third richest American.

Other big money recipients were Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum and John Watford of Ultra Petroleum. No doubt it was their sublime managerial skills and not an ever-increasing oil price which created wealth for shareholders, vindicating their US$100 million-plus remuneration. 2008 wasn’t Irani’s first brush with excessive pay — in 2006 the Lebanese-born executive collected US$460 million. Other energy bosses in the top ten included Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy, Bob Simpson of XTO Energy and Mark Papa of EOG Resources.

McClendon’s remuneration of almost US$80 million drew particular criticism, with Business Week noting that he received the highest bonus of any CEO last year, despite Chesapeake’s share price dropping by almost 70 percent from its June 2008 peak. McClendon last year sold almost his entire holding in the company to satisfy margin calls.

While unlikely to make much difference to the quantum of CEO remuneration, the United States have followed the lead of Australia and the United Kingdom and last month passed legislation which provides shareholders with a non-binding vote on director remuneration. Dubbed, “Say-On-Pay”, the bill seeks to provide US shareholders with non-binding advisory votes on executive remuneration and golden-parachute packages. The Bill will also require remuneration committee members satisfy guidelines ensuring their independence from the executive team they are supposed to be overseeing.

US shareholders shouldn’t be too hopeful though given that this was the country whose largest financial institutions desperately accepted US$175 billion in taxpayer funded bailouts last year, only to pay bonuses to staff of US$32 billion a couple of months later.

[thanks, Crikey]



Lest we forget.

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

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When you rearrange the letters:

[thanks Mom!]

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