There’s a group of senior company director
types gleefully looking forward to AGL
chairman Mark Johnson waking to find a process server banging on his front door
at daybreak. It is possible the early-morning visitor will not be of pleasant

Johnson will be handed a harshly-worded
letter threatening to sue him personally
if he doesn’t support the Alinta takeover of his company. There might even be a
suggestion that his usual director’s liability insurance won’t cover such a
legal action and that he should think very carefully about the consequences.

The Schadenfreude group will be the former
directors of Email. The dawn home visit
was part of the treatment they received when Macquarie Bank advised Smorgon
Steel in its takeover of the whitegoods company. Making it especially galling was the fact
that Macquarie Bank had previously been Email’s advisers – swapping sides like
that isn’t what nice investment banks are supposed to do.

Some of the Email directors I have spoken
to remain quite bitter about Macquarie Bank’s behaviour. It was perhaps the
first major public example of how MacBank could appear ethically challenged
when given a choice between a bag of money and being nice.

Now that Macquarie is advising Alinta in
its bid for AGL, it at least won’t have any trouble obtaining Mark Johnson’s
home address – he’s MacBank’s deputy chairman and one of its founders.

Johnson faces an obvious conflict of
interest in his two roles – just one of the problems for AGL’s defence, as TheSMH reports.

AGL’s board yesterday discussed
Johnson’s dual roles and “confirmed his ongoing commitment to
representing the interests of AGL in relation to the demerger, including
Alinta’s merger proposal.”

AGL said it “strongly endorsed Johnson’s continuing leadership of AGL and welcomed his formal advice that
he had been and will continue to be quarantined from involvement or knowledge
of the work of Macquarie in advising Alinta.”

Well I suppose Mark can at least help out
the Millionaire Factory by taking home the threatening letter and giving it to
himself at dawn.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey