The reviews of the MacQanTexCoe show are mixed – but irrelevant. The mumblings of various politicians fulfil their need to appear “concerned” but mean nothing. The commentariat is split, ranging from Bob Gottliebsen predicting the end of civilisation to Liz Knight being unable to see the upside for the buyers to Bartho believing it all makes financial sense to Chanticleer having his own each-way bet by saying it’s all a big gamble.

“The highly leveraged structure, which will be 80% debt and 20% equity, all going well will provide cheaper capital, but that depends on events outside the owners’ control. The key question remains, if the purchase price fully values the airline, then what do the new owners know that everyone else doesn’t?” asks John Durie before answering it pretty much along the lines we’ve previously suggested – it’s a punt on the local duopoly remaining cozy and the world remaining a nice place.

On a quick search, the only organ that tries to get near the real mystery in the deal – David Coe – is the AFR. And it’s a measure of his mystery that the paper doesn’t get very far.

It’s Coe who emerges from this with 46% of the Qantas votes for 35% of the investment. Most of that (35 votes, 27% economic interest) is through the dog Allco Equity Partners cashbox Coe chairs and Peter Yates theoretically runs. Unlike every other player, Coe is betting a company on MacQanTexCoe being fabulously successful. If one was to guess at the eventual structure for relisting Qantas, something involving AEP could easily start as favourite.

But who is the new Mr Roo? Narelle Hooper’s AFR piece reads as if she tried to get close to him on the sidelines of yesterday’s media event but it’s mainly quotes from the files and Coe associates – and that’s still more than anyone else achieved. Watch for a slew of colour pieces in future weekend magazines.

It comes down to Coe being a state school boy made good from Sydney’s unfashionable Hurstville, rising via the law (Mallesons partner) into structured corporate finance – making Allco a mini-Macquarie in some respects. He’s big on art and sport, sends his sons to Sydney Grammar, donates to money to charities and museums and he must like the airline business a lot.

Peter Fray

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