Herald Sun business commentator Terry McCrann launched a stinging attack on BrisConnections Chairman and ASX director, Trevor Rowe today, calling on the investment banker to resign from the ASX board. McCrann stated that Rowe’s position is untenable “after the disclosure of his extraordinary and utterly unacceptable behaviour as chairman of BrisConnections.”

McCrann’s views echo Crikey‘s calls over the past week. Specifically, that the failure of BrisConnections to disclose (from when it became aware at 2.23pm on Easter Saturday) that renegade unit-holder, Nick Bolton had decided to vote against his own resolutions at the upcoming EGM was a breach of its disclosure obligations. Not only did BrisConnections appear to fail in its continuous disclosure obligations, it did so not by accident, but rather in a calculated attempt to ensure that the resolutions being proposed would be defeated, and not prolonged by messy injunctive court actions. Even worse for Rowe, the disclosure obligations are pursuant to the ASX Listing Rules — the very body on which Rowe serves as a non-executive director.

Then there is the issue of Rowe’s claims with regard to his contact with Nick Bolton. At the EGM last Tuesday, Rowe stated that “he had a conversation with ‘a representative of Australian Style’ at which BrisConnections was offered the opportunity to buy its stake in the company [but] it was an offer we declined.” Rowe’s comments very much imply that Bolton approached BrisConnections and offered to sell his units in BrisConnections.

However, five days later, Rowe told Inside Business that in fact it was he who called Bolton’s adviser and “gave him a lower number” which turned out to be unsatisfactory to the young entrepreneur. A clearly different state of affairs as to what Rowe had told BrisConnections unit-holders earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Brisbane Toll Road Link (a substantial shareholder in BrisConnections associated with Sydney identity, Jim Byrnes) told Crikey that they are currently preparing to file a winding up application and seek injunctive relief in the Federal Court in New South Wales. BTR, which is believed to be owned by a US-based hedge fund, said that it is confident of success in its claims against BrisConnections.

A BTR spokesperson also stated that the company was resolving whether the matter would involve other potential plaintiffs who are also unit-holders in BrisConnections. BTR, whose holding in BrisConnections is above the 13%, has had only very limited contact with the Trust since the extraordinary general meeting held on 14 April 2009. The BTR spokesperson noted that it had sent the required monies to BrisConnections for a copy of the entity’s unit-holder registry on 15 April 2009, but the Trust had not yet responded as to whether those monies had been received.

Peter Fray

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