MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: New Spotless CEO Martin Sheppard poses for a portrait on August 18, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Sheppard was a former partner at KPMG. (Photo by Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media) MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: New Spotless CEO Martin Sheppard poses for a portrait on August 18, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Sheppard was a former partner at KPMG. (Photo by Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media)
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If you’re not one for conspiracy theories, you won’t see anything untoward in the fact that Spotless chief executive, Martin Sheppard, stepped down with immediate effect on Tuesday – just two days before the rather spotty cleaning services group delivers what should be its last full-year result as a listed company.

With Grant Fenn’s Downer EDI all but in control of Spotless, there isn’t much reason to hang around, but given its history of profit downgrade disasters you wouldn’t bet against some surprises.

Spotless says there won’t even be a market briefing with the results release. The market is expected to be focused on the Downer EDI mothership, which reports its results next Tuesday.

The takeover party is all but over with Sheppard’s chief operating officer, Dana Nelson, now at the helm with Downer’s blessings.

CBD has been told to take Nelson’s promotion as a sign that Downer is happy with Sheppard’s strategy, but even happier to work with a cleanskin unaffected by the hostile takeover battle.

As well as joining the modest ranks of female CEOs on the ASX, Nelson picks up a $600,000 pay rise to $1.1 million – handy given the $250,000 two-year retention bonus got paid out on June 30.

CBD has been told to expect to see details of Sheppard’s final exit package in the financial accounts this week.

It means that Sheppard, who joined in November 2015, will achieve that rare distinction of having his entry, and exit package, revealed in consecutive accounts.

At least Sheppard will have ample time to prepare for his latest Sydney to Hobart adventure with his brother, veteran yachtie Derek Sheppard.

The brothers bought their own yacht last year, renamed Black Sheep, and raced together for the first time.

“In the last 10 Hobarts there’s been three that I would’ve preferred to have been anywhere else on Earth than on a boat in the middle of Bass Strait,” said Derek before the most recent race.

After less than two years at Spotless, Martin probably knows the feeling well. Big flop

Is it a coincidence that BHP Billiton decided to unveil its booming dividend bonanza alongside the news that it is finally abandoning its shale gas disaster? And not alongside the news of how much chief executive Andrew Mackenzie will get from returning the focus to its core business of mining?

The “shale acquisitions were poorly timed, we paid too much and the rapid progress of early development was not optimal”, Mackenzie offered in the latest mea culpa for the disastrous decision of his predecessor, Marius Kloppers, in 2011.

Kloppers, and his petroleum boss, Texan Mike Yeager, plonked $US20 billion on the business and spent another $US20 billion developing it.

“This is absolutely stupendous,” Yeager told British newspaper The Telegraph in 2012. “This is the biggest thing that has happened in my career.”

Roughly $US10 billion worth of writedowns over the 2015 and 2016 financial years suggest he was right for all the wrong reasons.

BHP is expected to get as little as $US10 billion for the business, making it BHP’s grand folly of the resource boom.

Kloppers’ visionary leadership at BHP yielded more than $75 million in cash, shares and performance rights when he departed in 2013. And as far as CBD can tell his post-BHP career has consisted of one board seat with Danish cement engineering group FL Smidth.

Yeager was obviously a true believer. He went on to head Maverick Drilling and Exploration for a modest $11.2 million worth of remuneration in 2013-14.

Times are obviously tough, though. Maverick, which renamed itself Freedom Oil and Gas, announced in its most recent annual report that Yeager has taken a pay cut.

His $1.3 million salary, and $500,000 in annual payments in lieu of retirement benefits, was cut last year to $800,000. Hail, Caesar

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted has announced that former Veda boss, Nerida Caesar, will join his board on September 1, along with her fabulous scarves no doubt.

Caesar won’t need the money given she cashed in $40 million worth of shares last year when US group Equifax acquired Veda.

CBD was pleased to see that, among her other interesting roles, she is – or was – chairperson of the Sydney Catholic Business Network.

But what exactly does this network do? CBD decided to check the website.

“At a time when the ethical behaviour of all sectors of society is under scrutiny, the Sydney Archdiocese provide an opportunity for members of the business and government community to dialogue together within a Christian ethical framework,” said an explanatory note from his Eminence, Cardinal George Pell, AC, Vatican Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

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Banks are on a collision course with powerful shareholders over Treasurer Scott Morrison’s plan to give the prudential regulator stronger powers to intervene in senior bankers’ multimillion-dollar pay packets.
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As part of the May budget, Mr Morrison unveiled the banking executive accountability regime (BEAR), which will grant significant new powers to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to influence how top bankers are paid.

The regime includes a requirement that between 40 and 60 per cent of very senior bank executives’ bonuses be deferred for at least four years; APRA will be able to “review and adjust” remuneration policies in response to “inappropriate outcomes”; and it could have senior bankers disqualified.

In submissions to the federal Treasury, ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac raised concerns about certain aspects of the new regime for banker pay – which is currently set by boards, albeit within broad APRA guidelines.

However, the banks’ positions are at odds with the views of powerful shareholders from the not-for-profit superannuation sector, which have been pushing for greater accountability on banker pay and helped give the Commonwealth Bank a historic first “strike” on remuneration last year.

ANZ said it appreciated the government’s “policy intent”, and the rules deferring executive bonuses for four years could be appropriate, but giving APRA greater powers to set pay could undermine the role of the board.

“We question whether involving APRA so closely in setting and influencing remuneration risks undermining the responsibility of boards for appropriate remuneration standards and the role of shareholders in holding boards to account,” ANZ’s submission said.

National Australia Bank also argued boards and remuneration committees were “best placed” to determine the pay packets of top bankers, subject to getting the approval of shareholders.

“The remuneration of senior executives is complex and NAB does not believe that prescriptive legislation about it will be effective,” NAB said.

Westpac said it supported the rationale for the BEAR in trying to rebuild trust, and it backed the proposals for executive bonuses to be deferred for four years. However, it opposed giving APRA greater legal powers to intervene in remuneration, saying this is a matter for boards.

“We believe that boards and management should continue to be able to assess, and be accountable for, the design and operation of remuneration frameworks that support long-term financial soundness,” Westpac said.

Proxy adviser Ownership Matters said Westpac and Macquarie Group were already meeting the proposed requirements on deferred pay.

The industry’s position puts it at odds with some major shareholders such as Australian Super, which backed the move to defer senior banker bonuses and extra powers being given to APRA.

Even though the $120 billion fund said it was normally cautious about regulation that interfered with board decision making, it said “heightened prudential regulation” was warranted in banking after “repeated failures” by some banks to protect the interests of consumers in the past decade, and banks’ critical role in the economy.

The Australian Council for Superannuation Investors, which represents 37 large not-for-profit investors including super funds, also backed the BEAR and warned banks against trying to blunt the impact of the accountability regime on senior bankers’ bonuses by increasing base rates of pay. It said there was “very little appetite among institutional investors to see large increases in fixed remuneration”.

“Any increases to the fixed remuneration of executives to ‘compensate’ for greater deferral of bonuses would be highly likely to attract large ‘no’ votes from institutional investors,” ACSI said.

Commonwealth Bank, which did not provide its own submission on the BEAR, last year had its remuneration report voted down by shareholders, including Australian Super, in a first for a major bank in Australia.

Industry Super Australia said the proposal to mandate some portion of bonuses be deferred could cause executives to bargain for higher fixed pay, which could further heighten public concerns about banker pay.

In contrast, the Australian Shareholders’ Association said the BEAR may go too far, and it was not convinced there was a case for mandating that some portion of bonuses be deferred. It said pay should be set by the board and shareholders, not a government regulator.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted said it was appointing Nerida Caesar, former chief executive of Equifax, as a non-executive director on its board from next month.

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MARKET WRAP
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SALES

Malvern

A fully tenanted office property, returning $212,500 per annum, at 275 Wattletree Road has sold off-market to a Melbourne-based private investor for $4.07 million giving a yield of 5.2 percent. Colliers International’s David Minton and Andrew Ryan conducted the sale achieving a land rate of $8734 per sq m.

Mount Waverley

An owner-occupier has paid $7.25 million for a modern office warehouse at 411-415 Ferntree Gully Road. The 2956 sq m building is occupied by Toshiba who will be vacating the premises. Knight Frank’s Stuart Gill brokered the off-market deal.

Box Hill

Located near Box Hill train station and shopping centre, a 1020 sq m industrial site at 480-482A Station Street has sold for $3.5 million. Cushman and Wakefield’s Robert Colaneri and Andrew O’Connell said the deal achieved a land rate of approximately $3500 per sq m, representing a sub 3 per cent yield.

Camberwell

Savills Melbourne director Nick Peden with colleagues Jesse Radisich, Julian Heatherich and Benson Zhou sold, prior to auction, two adjoining residential properties at 1059-1061 Toorak Road to a Chinese developer for $5.5 million.

Dandenong South

A mortgagee auction for the single-level brick office-warehouse at Unit 3, 10-16 Stephen Road, achieved a sale price of $720,000. This was almost 20 per cent over the reserve said Facey Industrial Commercial’s partner and auctioneer Matt O’Dea.

Elwood

The park frontage triangular site at 27 Gordon Avenue, with a permit for five townhouses, sold for $4.35 million, representing a land rate of $5701 per sq m. The deal was brokered by Leon Ma and Jimmy Tat from CBRE’s Victoria Development Site Sales team.

Dandenong South

An asbestos removal company looking to expand its business has purchased 3/10-16 Stephen Road for $110,000 over the reserve. Facey Industrial Commercial’s Matt O’Dea (auctioneer) and Tim Dark sold the property for $720,000.

Collingwood

A small inner-city cafe has fetched a big price. Fitzroys has sold a cafe at 18 Peel Street, at the base of developer Small Giants’ Oxford & Peel apartment project. It sold under the hammer at a record strata retail building rate for the suburb of $14,200 per sq m, Fitzroys’ Adam Lester and Terence Yeh said. Seven bidders vied for the property that was eventually knocked down for $640,000, representing a tight 4.6 per cent yield.

Cremorne

An owner-occupier has paid $1.81 million for a modern office building at 33 Dover Street. The three-level office features a bathroom, courtyard, city views and five undercover car spaces, said Teska Carson’s Tom Maule and Matthew Feld.

LEASES

Melbourne

Kosch Fertilizer took advantage of a 12.45 per cent net incentive fit-out contribution when signing a five-year lease on part of level 4, 492 St Kilda Rd. Lemon Baxter’s Will McMullin brokered the deal at $260 per sq m.

Melbourne

Global Investment Partners have signed a three-year lease on a small office space located on level 5, 606 St Kilda Road. Lemon Baxter’s Will McMullin achieved $400 per sq m on the deal

Notting Hill

Greenwood Early Education Centres has signed a 12-year lease on the 1659 sq m property at 16 Ferntree Place located in the Ferntree Business Park. Colliers International’s Ash Dean and Travis Myerscough negotiated the deal for mid-$200 per sq m.

Port Melbourne

Lemon Baxter’s Ned Kuci and Nick Bade negotiated a four-year lease sublease at $282,600 per annum to the ABC on the office/warehouse at 391 Plummer Street.

Prahran

Windsor eatery Mr Miyagi has signed a five-year lease for its second outlet in the suburb paying $85,000 per annum on the 24 Chatham Street property. Joe Shahin’s Peregrine Projects negotiated the lease.

South Melbourne

A four-year lease at $100,000 per annum on the office/showroom at 154 Moray Street was negotiated by Lemon Baxter’s Ned Kuci and Nick Bade within four weeks of going to market. This represents $400 net per sq m.

South Melbourne

Lemon Baxter’s Will McMullin negotiated a three-year lease for the unique ground floor space at 23 Union Street at a rate of $400 per net sq m.

West Melbourne

Andrew Thorburn and James Shaw of Gross Waddell have leased 513-521 Victoria Street to short-term tenant Quinn Civil for $50,000 per annum.

Williamstown

The Laundry Box, the dry-cleaning and alterations group, has signed a three-year lease for a rental of $40,000 per annum on Shop 7, 18 Ferguson Street, part of the Punthill Apartment Hotel. Allard Shelton’s Simon Southey negotiated the deal at a rate of $615 per sq m.

Williamstown

Allard Shelton’s agent Simon Southey brokered a five-year lease for a $65,000 per annum rental on a shop at 44 Ferguson Street realising a rental rate of $650 per sq m.

Camberwell

A retail property at 708 Burke Road has been leased for two-and-a-half years for $59,000 per annum by Ned Kuci from Lemon Baxter.

Braeside

JR Storage & Logistics has taken over buildings 1-19 Industrial Drive on a two-year lease. Colliers International’s James Stott negotiated the terms at $55 per sq m, saying it was “a strong result” for the landlord, David Barr.

South Yarra

Sofa, so good! Sydney-based furniture retailer Lounge Lovers will recline into a new tenancy at 507 Chapel Street, South Yarra, after signing a three-year lease for the 600 sq m site. Colliers International’s Chris Meehan, Cam Taranto and Jarrod Herscu negotiated terms at about $500 per sq m on behalf of Sunway Group.

Southbank

Melbourne-based construction and maintenance provider Sterling Group has committed to levels one and two at 70 City Road for three years. Colliers International’s Chris Meehan and Vincent Tran negotiated terms for the 600 sqm tenancy at $400 per sq m.

Toorak

Women’s clothing and accessories retailer, Who Fish, has taken a new lease at Hawksburn Village in a deal brokered by Teska Carson’s Luke Bisset and Fergus Evans. Mr Bisset said Who Fish took a five-year lease over Shop 3 at 537 Malvern Road plus a five-year option at a rental of $73,000 per annum net.

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A family business that has been running since 1901 will end 93 years of continuous trading in Melbourne’s popular Chapel Street when it sells its historic shop.
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McPhee’s Fine Antiques, which focuses on 18th century English and French furniture, has put its store at 200-202 Chapel Street on the market with price expectations above $5 million.

The business originally opened around the corner in High Street.

The two-level, double-fronted, 497-square-metre Victorian-era building, Holywells Terrace, which is in near original condition is in a part of Chapel Street dominated by similar historic shopfronts.

Fourth-generation antique dealer Duncan McPhee said the family business would remain open but move to another location.

“We’re keeping on the business. Chapel Street has changed so much it doesn’t suit that type of business any more. It’s a different type of street to what it was years ago,” he said.

Mr McPhee and his brother took over the business from their father Christopher.

“It was my great-grandfather who started the business. My brother and I are the fourth generation.”

They buy all their furniture in England and France and ship it back.

“We’ve been doing that for 60 years,” he said.

The property will be sold through Teska Carson’s Matthew Feld and Tom Maule.

Mr Feld said Prahran was undergoing significant redevelopment.

“This part of Chapel Street has an enviable aura and reputation driven by its eclectic mix of tenancies from cafes to restaurants, bars and entertainment venues,” he said.

A recent Knight Frank survey of 11 suburban shopping strips across Melbourne highlighted Chapel Street’s historically high vacancy rate.

At worrying levels of 13.5 per cent last year, the vacancy rate fell slightly to 12.4 per cent, but still remains above the long-term average of 8.6 per cent.

Vacancies across the 11 streets surveyed, which included Bridge Road in Richmond, Toorak Road in South Yarra and Church Street in Brighton, fell marginally to an average of 8 per cent.

High vacancies have not deterred investors, particularly self-managed super funds, who are looking to gain a foothold in retail with a view to long-term capital gain.

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London: Civilian casualties, including the child fighters of the Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, are part of the “price of the war,” despite efforts to minimise their deaths, says the spokesperson for the global coalition fighting Islamic State.
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While refusing to comment directly on the case of Sharrouf and his two sons, reported killed in an airstrike in Syria last week, Major General Rupert Jones said the global coalition goes through “really detailed, targeted processes.”

Speaking to international journalists in London from Baghdad via Skype, General Jones said: “This is the most precise, targeting process that I think any coalition has ever achieved in any previous conflict,” he said.

He declined to give any details about Sharrouf’s death but said in general children on the battlefield would be treated differently but it would not always be possible to tell if they comprised part of a target or not.

“If you can patently see they’re children then you’re going to treat them as children but that will often be quite difficult to define, you can’t necessarily tell the age of an individual,” he said.

“We go to the very, very greatest lengths possible to make sure that casualties are minimised.”

He said the military always aims for zero civilian deaths but said that the licence to kill is greater depending on the target.

“If you’re going after [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi would we take a bit more risk than if we were going after some low-level fighter? Yes and I think nations would expect us to do that,” he said.

Sharrouf slipped out of Australia using his brother’s passport to join Islamic State in 2013. His wife, Tara Nettleton joined him soon after with their five children Zaynab, 15, Hoda, 14, Abdullah, 12, Zarqawi, 9, and Humzeh, 6. In an image that made international headlines, Abdullah was photographed holding a severed head of a Syrian soldier in 2014.

Abdulla and Zarqawi are believed to have been killed in the strike on August 11. Zaynab was married to another Australian foreign fighter Mohammed Elomar and gave birth to a child. Elomar is thought to have been killed in an air strike in Syria in 2015, the same year the mother of the Sharrouf children, Tara Nettleton died from appendix surgery in Syria.

The global coalition issues a monthly report on the number of civilians killed. It disputes claims by Airwars of nearly 5,000 innocent casualties and says the figure of verified civilian deaths is 624. To date, based on data between August 2014 and June 2017, the Coalition conducted a total of 22,983 strikes that included 48,636 separate engagements.

“Now I’m not saying to you that is the totality but that is the totality that has been presented to us, of credible cases that we’ve been able to investigate and resolve,” he said.

But he said it was impossible to liberate cities like Mosul and Raqqa without civilians being caught in the crossfire. “You can’t defeat Daesh without there being some price, our job is to keep that price as small as possible.” ‘Surrender or die’

General Jones said there were “undoubtedly” foreign fighters in the last remaining strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Tal Afar and the remainder of Ninewah province in Northern Iraq.

He said it was becoming extremely difficult for them to escape via Turkey and infiltrate Europe or countries in the north of Africa, saying there was no evidence of many fighters leaving cities like Mosul and Raqqa.

“It’s equally hard to move back out, in the same way if you can’t get across through Turkey easily, you can’t get out easily either,” he said.

He quoted Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saying ISIS fighters had one of two options: “surrender or die.”

Australia is hoping that within months, Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash will be returned home to Australia to face terrorism charges. He was caught trying to escape Syria via Turkey last year.

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