Fairfax chats to Kohler about a return. There are rumours this morning that Fairfax Media has made an approach to talk to Australian Independent Business Media about potential commercial synergies. AIBM — which publishes the websites Business Spectator and Eureka Report and is said to valued at about $50 million — has been the subject of takeover speculation for months, as new CEO Greg Hywood fishes around for acquisitions.

“We haven’t had a conversation yet but we’re happy to talk to anybody at any time,” Kohler told Crikey this morning. Last month Australian Financial Review editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury poured fuel on the fire when he told Inside Business that a purchase would be “a very interesting thing to think about”.

A post-Christmas corporate scandal? Is one of Sydney’s most high-profile companies about to be hit with a major s-x scandal? We’re told it revolves around an incident after an office Christmas party and, according to our tipster, “will be bigger than the David Jones case which rocked the corporate world”. The company involved is apparently scrambling to keep a lid on the allegations. That’s been a success so far, but we’re told the victims will be going public straight after Christmas.

ANU labs a safety hazard. A staffer at the Australian National University is blowing the whistle on what they say is unsafe work practices at the Research School of Chemistry — where a fire destroyed part of a laboratory on Tuesday. The pictures reveal all …

“These from a lab in the same building as the recent fire,” our insider reports. “There is something similar in these two labs, a laissez fair attitude towards safety that has long been part of RSC culture. The undergrad teaching labs are even worse and overseas students pay big money to study here! I certainly would not let my son study here, not worth the risk.” Will ANU act?

Harvey’s games plan just a stunt. Gerry Harvey continues his campaign for protecting local retail jobs today, announcing he’ll import British games to Australian customers online. A games-head explains why it won’t work:

“One key area where markets have shifted is PS3/XBOX/WII games. They’re region free so savvy Australian shoppers can order from Zavvi or The Hut and get basically new games for 50% less than it costs here in Australia. Some British sites actually list in Australian dollars and offer free postage (ozgameshop.com is one). Harvey Norman has decided to re-do the tired ‘buy from overseas, markup for Australians’ business model — using the internet. Yup, ordering games from the Brits cheap and then passing them on to us. Kind of like setting up a user-pays search engine to punch terms into Google for you, I guess?

“Check out the bizarre wording in the FAQ: ‘We can deliver products to your home or office anywhere within Australia. Purchased items are normally dispatched one to three (Republic of Ireland) business days after the order is placed.’ Republic of Ireland? Loved the reading on UK imported classifications too (as opposed to our G/PG/MA system, etc). For the record, local dealers refuse to trade in these titles because you can’t sell them here (without sticking the OFLC labels on, anyway).”

Post hangs up on parcel delivery. Nothing says Christmas like consumer gripes. Let’s start with Australia Post, as one Crikey reader recites:

“Ringing Australia Post this morning to check why an Express Post item hasn’t been delivered six days after putting in the gold box — notwithstanding the internet tracking screen showing it’s “delivered”. Cough. Patiently waded through the push-button labyrinth, pressing the Express Post button. Result? Automatic hang-up. Pass the gripe water!”

Why David Jones has lost the plot. Another frazzled Crikey reader reports:

“The scene: Bondi Junction shopping centre, December 23, 2011, the second last shopping day before Christmas Day in a season that hasn’t been jolly or nice. Wanting to buy a last-minute gift I hurried to beat the early rush. Saw Myer was open at 8.30am with a few people inside. Up to DJs to check. Store closed and not open until 9am! Dumb move. DJs’ management can talk and moan all they like about fickle customers, a cool start to summer and online threats, but when you can’t even match the opening time of your major competitor in one of Sydney’s biggest shopping palaces, I figure you don’t deserve to make a quid.”

Well said. And with that … Merry Christmas, shoppers.

Peter Fray

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