It is not without irony that Richard Pratt has significantly expanded the role of former Foster’s chief, Ted Kunkel at Visy, “to chair a new board to oversee the company’s Australian operations, Australasian Manufacturing Group (AMG). These are Visy recycling, pulp and paper, Visy Board, and its packaging operations.”
Kunkel has a bit of experience “overseeing” Pratt’s dealings. Just last week, Crikey wrote of Visy boss, Richard Pratt’s, alleged escapades with Elders, BHP and Allan Hawkins upon which Pratt was later sued by Foster’s and raided by the NCA. At the time, Foster’s was being run by none other than Dick Pratt’s latest employee, one Ted Kunkel.
As Crikey noted last week, Pratt’s involvement with Elders surrounded the controversial purchase of a stake in BHP by Pratt and New Zealander, Allan Hawkins. Elders allegedly sought to repay Pratt for purchasing a friendly stake in BHP. According to former Elders finance boss, Ken Jarrett, in a statement given to the NCA:
…It was understood between [former Pratt adviser] Naphtali and myself that the onus was on Naphtali to come up with a suitable method of concealing the payment to Pratt. Apparently in pursuit of that arrangement, I received a letter from Naphtali which proposed and investment which I understood was the payment of the fee to Pratt disguise as an investment by [Elders] in a company associated with the Pratt group. My recollection is that the vehicle referred to was an off-shore company associated with their Battery Group.
It was alleged that Elders later invested $52 million in a company called Vicinvest. It was also alleged that Vicinvest was, a couple of year later, wound up, with the funds having been distributed the funds to other parts of Pratt’s business.
After John Elliott was ingloriously removed from Elder’s (which was soon after renamed Foster’s), he was replaced as CEO by Ted Kunkel, who proceeded to clean up the significant mess. Soon after, the Vicinvest transaction was discovered and Foster’s presumably weren’t too happy with the performance of their $52 million investment. Legal action ensued and it is believed that Pratt paid Foster’s $25 million, and agreed to sell them boxes at a discounted rate, however, The Age noted that “neither party would disclose [the settlement terms]”.
Kunkel was initially employed by Pratt to sit on the family board in 2004, to allegedly provide “a customer’s perspective.” Kunkel’s expanded role will see him chairing a board that will now oversee virtually all of Visy’s Australian operations and report to the Pratt family board.