The front page of today’s Financial Review reports: “Qantas bidder beefs up its boardroom credentials” – that the possible new owners of the Mangled Roo intend to appoint former Westpac chief, Bob Joss and well known veteran investment banker, Trevor Rowe to the board of the airline if the huge bid is successful.

And, according to today’s CBD gossip column in the SMH‘s finance pages today:

They’ve been spotted recently strolling the corridors in Canberra looking for support for a Qantas buyout. And now bods from Airline Partners Australia, comprising Texas Pacific, Macquarie Bank, Allco Equity et al, are strolling the corridors of the country’s media organisations. APA’s Bob Mansfield and TPG’s Ben Gray did the rounds at Fairfax’s Darling Harbour HQ yesterday.

So what’s behind the AFR story? Is there disclosure anywhere that this resulted from a friendly chat and confidential briefing: a bit of high level spin?

Of course not. It’s another in the long line of carefully planted stories in the AFR about this controversial deal and others from various investment bankers (Macquarie Bank is well connected).

The AFR has been especially valuable to the Qantas bid team: the first stories appeared there last year and its feature writers have been given access that other media outlets haven’t.

It’s nice when you have the country’s leading financial daily in your back pocket; no wonder the AFR can’t see anything wrong with the Macquarie Bank led deal.

The AFR is well and truly on the Macquarie Bank drip.

Peter Fray

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