Toll Holdings’ tenacious, contentious, audacious and tension-packed $4.6 billion takeover of Patrick Corporation takes the cake and the prize. Sure, Toll paid a big price for its major competitor, but CEO Paul Little and his advisors executed brilliantly and finally outsmarted arch-rivals Chris Corrigan and Peter Scanlan, then cajoled Graeme Samuel and the ACCC in order to proclaim a moral victory. After the deal came the mopping up and carving up, without a hint of industrial or other problems, and the bonus of seeing Virgin Blue soar and stay within the Toll fold. All of which led to a nice little pre-Christmas re-rating of its stock. With hindsight, this was textbook execution.

Honourable Mentions:

ABC Learning, which continued to buy up the world’s child care centres.

Sydney Futures Exchange, which sold itself to ASX for a fortune and then managed to get their bloke up to run the lot.

PBL, for selling its old media assets — for a huge price at the top of the market — into a new company funded by the CVC private equity group.

2005 winner: “Graeme Hart’s food asset swapping has delivered him a clear profit of more than $1 billion thanks to the $2.1 billion float of 80% of Goodman Fielder, which Burns Philp bought for $2 billion in 2003.”

Peter Fray

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