Qantas Chair Margaret Jackson Resigns and So Does the APA Website

After hearing that Airline Partners Australia had finally decided to rule out any further attempt at buying Qantas (ASX: QAN), we were reminded of the immortal ‘dead parrot sketch’ from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

To paraphrase, “This takeover is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life…” and so on. And so it was when your correspondent attempted to get a complete picture of the reasons for withdrawing any future interest by attempting to reach

However, the formerly brightly coloured website has been replaced with, well, nothing. Attempting to reach that page, we were confronted with nothing more than, “HTTP 403 Forbidden.” And “The website declined to show this webpage.”

“The website declined…”??? Wow! It seems that all those consortium members who were so keen to buy themselves an airline have shot through taking the furniture, fixtures and fittings – even the website content. They don’t hang around where they’re not wanted do they?

Hans Kunnen, who helps manage $107 billion at Colonial First State Global Asset Management in Sydney, told Bloomberg News, “I imagine any other suitors have been scared off. Qantas is now trading on its own two feet without the threat of a bid, with the expectation management can do a decent job with the company.”

He went on to say, “The fact that it hasn’t tanked back to somewhere near the A$4 mark would suggest shareholders are comfortable with the earnings outlook.” At the close of trade yesterday, Qantas shares were at $5.25, still considerably higher than the pre-bid price.

Whether it can sustain this price level without a takeover on the horizon is a different matter. For it to do so would suggest that investors either now believe that the company was previously undervalued based on the current earnings outlook, or maybe, just maybe, another takeover offer could spring suddenly from the sidelines at some point in the near future.

Finally Chairwoman of the Board of Qantas, Margaret Jackson, resigned… although she’ll remain in place until the next annual general meeting. It now remains to be seen whether there will be any further carnage. Geoff Dixon must surely be skating on very thin ice given he was equally, if not more so involved with the APA deal.

However, it is one thing to chop off the head of the ‘figurehead’ chairwoman, it is another to decapitate the bloke actually running the firm. Mr. Dixon’s position would appear to be safe.

Meanwhile, although everything has not been plain sailing for Macquarie in terms of potential takeovers, the performance of Macquarie Bank shares on the ASX has been much more impressive.

Following a suspension of the company’s stock yesterday due to a placement of over $700 million of new shares as part of a capital raising the shares rose on the back of a strong earnings report. It didn’t stop there either, yesterday the share price continued to march towards the $100 mark as it closed at $96.50 or a rise of nearly 5%.

As News Ltd helpfully pointed out, Macquarie Bank is in a race against Rio Tinto and CSL to become the first Australian listed blue-chip company to reach the magical century. Of course, it doesn’t really matter, but it creates a little bit of nonsense.

Kris Sayce
Markets and Money

Kris Sayce

Kris Sayce, dubbed the ‘Jeremy Clarkson of Australian finance’, began as a London finance broker specialising in small-cap stock analysis on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Kris then spent several years at one of Australia's leading wealth management firms. A fully accredited advisor in shares, options, warrants and foreign-exchange investments, Kris was instrumental in helping to establish the Australian version of the Markets and Money e-newsletter in 2005.
He is currently the Publisher, Investment Director and Editor in Chief of Australia's most outspoken financial news service — Money Morning.

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Several of the QAN board should go now. While Jackson’s departure is welcome, it looks like she will stick around to collect a few more perks in the meantime. Dixon’s performance over next few months will be of the ‘junk- yard dog’ variety. Should be a fun AGM in November.

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