Gary Weaven’s Industry Funds Management wants everyone to know the Weekend Oz was wrong in claiming that IFM was supporting the MacBank Qantas bid. IFM is not considering it joining the local barbarian on this one.

But other industry funds are – which is entirely reasonable as long as the numbers add up. The expectations of the Qantas takeover happening are continuing to build but with mixed readings on that by two financial markets.

If the bid is becoming a more sure thing, it’s hard to explain why the Qantas share price is down a few cents this morning to $4.95, well short of the mooted offer.

But at the same time, the perceived risk of owning Qantas debt has surged to a three-year high on the likelihood of Mac/Texas getting control. Bloomberg has the story of the cost of Qantas’ credit default swaps tripling. So the credit market says it’s on but the stock market isn’t convinced.

Meanwhile one airport owner has seized the Qantas opportunity to push for open skies. Australian Infrastructure Fund chairman Paul Espie used his AGM speech to take a none-too-subtle swipe at government hypocrisy over preaching open markets and competition but running a protectionist regime to the detriment of consumers and the tourism industry.

Which leaves one wondering how Macquarie Bank might handle the conflict of interest it would have in wanting “its” Qantas protected while wanting more traffic at “its” Sydney Airport.

No doubt there’s a Chinese Wall purpose built for just that sort of thing.

Peter Fray

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