The ACCC this morning announced it’s
opposing Barloworld’s $321 million takeover of local paint manufacturer Wattyl, but it’s a side play about burning excess paint that’s more interesting.

There is a somewhat mixed history of the
regulator interfering in Australian paint industry takeovers, but that’s rather
boring compared with what has turned into an attack on the credibility of
Wattyl’s CEO, Dr John Nolan, by the SMH.

What began as a nice little story about
Wattyl clearing the decks of excess inventory caused by the slumping housing
market is now a challenge to Wattyl’s spin doctors over what looks like a poor
attempt to paint over a PR embarrassment. (Sorry, I had to write that.)

The SMH‘s Scott Rochfort had a tip that
Wattyl was about to incinerate 400 pallets of paint as part of a $3.7 million
write down. Never mind the greenhouse
angle, there was a little matter of perceived waste.

CEO Nolan then announced that much of the
paint would instead be given to charity – but Rochfort’s mole reckons most of
the cans with “for charity” stickers on them are still heading for the
incinerator. No reply from Nolan or
Wattyl on that one.

Peter Fray

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