Sydney business
community is in a class of its own for mutual back-scratching and
networking. Take those now firmly entangled
companies, PBL and Qantas.

James Packer is a director of Qantas
as well as being executive chairman of PBL; Qantas CEO, Geoff Dixon has just
been appointed to the PBL board; Qantas in-flight news is produced by the Nine
Network division of PBL while the ACP division of PBL produces the in-flight
magazines for Qantas and Jetstar (the Australian Airlines contract will close
when the airline ceases operating).

Dixon is only
allowed one external board seat and hopped off the Leighton board on Tuesday
without explanation, only to emerge Wednesday on

Obviously seven years on the
country’s biggest construction group with one of the more successful CEOs
driving things in Wal King, paled in significance and clout to the lure of
sitting at the same table as James Packer, John Alexander, and newbie directors,
Chris Corrigan and Chris Mackay, the former head of

Over at Qantas the extension of
Dixon’s term as
CEO is yet to be officially confirmed by the company. There was a passing
mention in a recent edition of BRW. The last official announcement was back in
2004 when Qantas chairman, Margaret Jackson, announced Dixon would be staying
until July 1, 2007.

That’s now July 1, 2008 and means the
company’s succession planning has gone to pot, for which the board, including
director James Packer, should be criticised.

other news is that former Qantas CEO, James Strong, is returning to the board
replacing the hard-headed veteran Queensland businessman, Jim Kennedy, who
retired in the middle of May.

Strong brings aviation experience
but also some experience in driving a succession: he positioned his friend Geoff
Dixon, to replace him five years ago, and then ran the succession planning for
Roger Corbett at Woolworths.

Strong is chairman of Woolworths and
chairman of insurer, IAG, which is suffering a weak share price, just like
Qantas is at the moment.

Qantas shares are weak because of
the high oil prices, unease about airline profitability and concerns about
industrial relations and costs.