relationship between the Packers and Macquarie Bank has waxed and waned
over the years. Macquarie put together the Crown Casino takeover for
PBL in 1998 and Peter Yates was recruited from the Millionaire Factory
to run PBL until he was fired last year. And when Alan Jones launched
his blistering attacks on Macquarie in 2002 there was much speculation
as to the motive and the best theory at the time was that Sam Chisholm
had a word in the Parrot’s ear (you can read that Crikey piece here).

the relationship is not about to improve, because Chisholm’s great
confidante Adam Shand, along with producer Paul Steindl, is putting
together a story for the Sunday program on Macquarie Bank’s controversial dealings in Allstate Explorations and its Beaconsfield goldmine in Tasmania.

This is the saga that has The Australian
in a legal battle with Macquarie after reporter and columnist Michael
West went to town on the bank earlier this year in a piece called “The
Mine Shaft,” which has now been removed from the News Ltd public
archive in a sign that the Murdoch beancounters are a bit nervous.

spotted West and Shand sitting together and chatting at the Macquarie
Bank AGM in Sydney two or three years ago. Has West put his old mate
onto the story to crank up the pressure on Macquarie? Who can say.
Whatever the case, it remains extraordinary that Macquarie could invest
$300,000 for a return estimated by some to reach $75 million – although
there were no other investors offering to guarantee the entitlements of
workers and creditors at the time.

The Sunday team is
believed to have been given detailed briefings by Macquarie Bank
executives, but don’t expect to see any of them appear on air. The
aggrieved shareholders who’ve been complaining about the deal will no
doubt provide the necessary colour for the story to work on television.

big question is: what did Macquarie and the administrators who
controversially signed up for this deal know at the time they told
creditors that the company’s future was bleak? These predictions were
totally inaccurate, as Beaconsfield is now producing an estimated $20
million a year for Macquarie.

Two weeks ago, professional
litigation funders IMF filed an action in the NSW Supreme Court which
is up for hearing later this month. The application is for Michael Ryan
to be dumped as administrator and IMF to appoint a special purpose
investigator to assess the Macquarie transactions which led to
creditors and shareholders losing their mine. This is all about John
Walker and the IMF crew slipping their hand into Macquarie’s pocket
while suing the administrator.

Fairfax have been surprisingly quiet on this story, which might be explained by the threats and the advertising pulled from BRW two years ago over a hostile cover story.

will be in Sydney for the Macquarie Bank AGM on 28 July and this is
shaping up to be similar to the 2003 AGM when battles over Nardell
Coal’s collapse got a big run, as you can see here.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey