When AMP holds its annual meeting in Sydney
today you can bet one person who won’t be there is former CEO Paul
Batchelor. After being fired by the board a couple of years ago,
Batchie (as his journalist mates in the finance press referred to him)
retreated to his Terrace Vale winery and vineyard in the Hunter Valley
to become a gentleman grower.

He was paid around $1.4 million
net, after claiming more and reserving his right to legal action
against AMP to recover what he thought he was entitled to. Some reports
said he thought he was due between $12 million and $20 million.

then became chairman of the “virtual” wine company Cheviot Bridge,
after backing his Terrace Vale brand into the listed company. But
Cheviot Bridge, which was backed into the shell of the old Winepros
business after raising around $16 million, has fallen on hard times.
Cost overruns, revenue short falls, legal costs from the action against
Tyrrell’s over the purchase of the Long Flat label, poor market
conditions, lengthy negotiations on a UK deal and the rising power of
Woolworths and Coles have all hurt Cheviot badly.

So this week there was a profit downgrade.
The shares were at 10c yesterday, down 10 cents since April 30 and
continuing a slump that’s run for most of the past month as some
“knowing” investors quit the stock.

The problems at Cheviot
Bridge won’t make another director happy, either. Bill Gurry, former
investment banker and now Coles Myer director, should be able to bring
his considerable turnaround skills to this company, like he did at
Coles. The company is now worth $6 million, a third of the value when
it was backed into Winepros. That’s underwater at current prices, along
with every other part of the business. The business might be “virtual,”
but the drop in the share price is very real.