While Macquarie Bank isn’t telling the ASX
anything more about its role in the PCCW auction, someone seems to be busily
leaking details to the press.

Both The Smagecourtesy of Reuters and AFP and The Oz with a Glenda Korporaal byline are running the line that MacBank is offering unhappy 20% PCCW
shareholder China Netcom up to half of the new company that would be formed
from PCCW’s communications and media assets. The wire services say another 25% would be floated to the public.

This would leave the Macquarie-led
consortium with just 25% of the $A10 billion purchase, and this simple
boy from the Queensland bush scratching his head about how there’s a worthwhile profit in
it.

My guess is that there has been another
game underway between China Netcom and Richard Li ever since the mainland
company bought a 20% stake in PCCW. It looks like Li is running hard to
get out of PCCW after finding the mainland expansion all too hard under Netcom.
Expansion in a controlled industry like telecoms in China is
all about your partners.

There’s a big leap of faith to think
MacBank can someone manage the cadres better – particularly if China Netcom has
a controlling interest. It’s all more
than a little inscrutable – and perhaps has the whiff about it of someone being
too keen to do a deal.

Peter Fray

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