It’s been a shocker of a week for Lex Greensill, the Bundaberg-born billionaire who founded the London-based finance group he named after himself.
After Credit Suisse Group froze $US10 billion ($12.9 billion) worth of investment funds, Greensill Capital is contemplating filing for insolvency.
What does this mean for former foreign minister Julie Bishop and her role with Greensill, announced last year. The Bish is distancing herself from the finance company at a speed that would do a daily runner proud.
“I am not a director or member of the Greensill Capital board,” Bishop says. “Julie Bishop and Partners provides advisory and consultancy services to Greensill Capital.”
No mention on Tuesday of the Greensill announcement last year that proudly stated that Bishop would serve as chair of Greensill Asia Pacific.
In fact Bishop is listed as a “senior adviser to the board”, the same job title bestowed on former UK prime minister David Cameron, who kind of accidentally tipped Britain into Brexit in a botched attempt to stand up to his Conservative Party’s right wing. Not that any of that information is easy to find on Greensill’s website after invisible hands inside the company’s IT team quietly deactivated the company’s board page earlier this week.
Last year, as CBD reported, Greensill won EY’s Aussie Entrepreneur of the Year, but sat out the chance to contest the international big league. The 2020 world event’s lavish ceremony in Monaco was canceled and a Zoom call substituted, which might have had an influence on his decision. Given his current woes, Greensill should have taken the bull by the horns last year. With Greensill teetering, EY’s World Entrepreneur of the Year awards looks an impossible dream.
Meanwhile Julie Bishop has not been standing still, cooking up a new venture of her own that doesn’t exactly fit her previous brand positioning. La Bish famously told the National Press Club back in 2014 that “Feminism [is] not a term I find particularly useful these days”.
So it’s a surprise to learn her latest company is to be called WomanKind.
The nascent firm counts Karen Carey on its board, and Bishop’s former long term chief of staff Murray Hansen.
“WomanKind is a potential new venture that I am exploring and it is not related to any other company,” Bishop said. “More detail will be available if and when we decide to launch.” With a name like that, presumably the death stare will be a thing of the past.
All in the timing
A spat between WIN Corp owner Bruce Gordon and former adviser Jon Adgemis stepped up a gear last week when Gordon launched court action against Adgemis’ company over a $6 million loan. The Bermuda-based Gordon claims his private investment vehicle Birketu lent Adgemis’ Jaja Securities more than $6.4 million and the cash is yet to be repaid. The case is now set down for a hearing on March 5 in Sydney’s Supreme Court. But whether it gets that far is another question.
The former KPMG mergers and acquisitions boss who went on to become one of the billionaire Gordon’s closest advisers hasn’t filed a defence and says he won’t need to if he is able to resolve the issue ahead of time. “We are amicably working through it and there will be a resolution,” he told CBD on Tuesday.
It could be wishful thinking from Adgemis who now controls a pubs and hotels portfolio under his privately-owned Jaga Group. But it’s worth noting Adgemis had a win this week after negotiating an end to another costly court battle.
Last November, Chinese-owned developer Aqualand Developments served Adgemis with a summons over a multimillion-dollar loan. The developer alleged that the Adgemis had entered into a three-way agreement with Horizon Hotels – owned by developer Greg Magree – over a loan of $9.5 million. Aqualand went to court claiming repayment plus interest charged at a steep 12 per cent.
A NSW Supreme Court official told CBD that Adgemis was yet to file a defence. And on Tuesday, Adgemis said the matter had been put to bed.
“We’ve signed a settlement,” he said. “A substantial payment was made [to Aqualand] this week and there’s another one to come in May.”
Stephen Brook is a CBD columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He is a former features editor and media editor at The Australian, where he wrote the Media Diary column and spent six years in London working for The Guardian.
Samantha is a CBD columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. She recently covered Victorian and NSW politics and business for News Corp, and previously worked for the Australian Financial Review.