Sitting prominently on Crikey’s list of successful Australians working offshore is Philip Bowman, chief executive of UK-based drinks giant Allied Domecq. Bowman rose to prominence when he was fired as Coles Myer finance director in 1995 and turned himself into a whistleblower over Solomon Lew’s notorious Yannon transaction.
It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to the former PwC accountant as his career has soared while running the global drinks giant. And if all this talk about a $20 billion takeover bid for Allied Domecq by French giant Pernot Ricard and US spirits company Fortune Brands is correct, Bowman could find himself retiring a wealthy man.
The British papers are full of reports about the takeover negotiations and some of them are focusing on Bowman’s estimated $40 million stake in the business.
Bowman’s estranged Australian partner, Geraldine de Malet, will take a keen interest in such reports as she is currently suing Bowman in the Victorian Supreme Court claiming a slice of his assets.
The Age’s Christopher Webb had the juicy story on 21 March and it’s a little surprising it hasn’t been picked up elsewhere or in the UK because it’s a ripper. This is part of what he reported:
Geraldine de Malet’s claim listed a string of properties in Noosa, Kerrie, Frankston South, Carlton and Cape Schanck, including a rural property known as Witchwood. She said Witchwood, in the Kerrie Valley on the outskirts of Melbourne, was jointly owned with Bowman, and that she had made a significant financial contribution when it was bought. She sought half ownership of all property acquired by Bowman over the 11 years to January last year. The claim stated that their relationship ceased early last year as a result of Bowman “having a relationship with his secretary”.
Given that Bowman has lived in Australia for less than a year over the past decade, it’s curious that de Malet is using Victoria’s de facto laws to go after his assets. It would also be interesting to know if Bowman has pledged any of his Allied Domecq equity to finance some of the properties that de Malet now wants a judge to award her.
And what would Bowman’s new lover, his secretary, think of him selling the company?