The cheap Aussie airline Bonza, which is majority owned by Florida-based private investment firm 777 Partners, has appointed a voluntary administrator to run the discount regional airline. Not so Bonza for Australian holidaymakers.

Welcome to Talking Business, a podcast produced in Melbourne Australia. The podcast is available on the Acast site, my own website, the Apple Podcast store or wherever you go to get your podcasts. Or you can get it at the Business Acumen website at or at Banking Day.

For the most exclusive access to leading economists and business leaders from around the world, subscribe      to Talking Business from my website

I am Leon Gettler. My job is to review and monitor the week’s news in business, finance and economics. I bring it all to you, every week.

This is episode number 14 in our series for 2024 and today’s date is Friday May 3.

First, I’ll be talking to I’ll be talking to Ben Weiss, CEO and co-founder of the platform Olliv, to learn more about how Australians are using crypto, the importance of making it more accessible, impact of crypto on the local economies, tips for first time traders, and the future of crypto in Australia as it becomes a key player in the market.


And I’ll be talking to economist Saul Eslake about Australia’s housing crisis.

But first, let’s talk to Ben Weiss.

The cheap Aussie airline Bonza, which is majority owned by Florida-based private investment firm 777 Partners, has appointed a voluntary administrator to run the discount regional airline after the company behind its aircraft provider repossessed its planes in Australia leaving thousands of passengers stranded on Tuesday. That’s not such Bonza news for travellers wanting to connect from Avalon to the Sunshine Coast or at Melbourne Airport who were struggling to find another airline to take them on their much needed holidays. Planes registered to Bonza remain grounded at the Sunshine Coast, Melbourne and the Gold Coast after a former investment partner of the discount airline’s private equity owner, 777 Partners, repossessed them – some while passengers were still on board. We have been informed this morning that effective 0300 today that all our aircraft have had repossession proceedings commenced by AIP Capital, the aircraft lessor,” Bonza chief executive Tim Jordan said in an email to staff. “This was a surprise to both ourselves and 777 Partners. We are currently assessing all options and will provide an update here just as soon as we have more information available to share. As a consequence to this, all first wave flights from all bases have been cancelled.”  So what do we know about Bonza’s owners?   As well as aviation interests, 777 has invested in the British Basketball League, several sports clubs around the world including soccer clubs in Spain and the Melbourne Victory soccer club in Australia.  It also offered to buy Liverpool-based Premier League club Everton last year and has loaned the club hundreds of millions of dollars.  777 Partners touts itself as providing “cutting edge digital, data science and marketing methods that unlock trapped value and enables extraordinary growth’’.  Bonza planes were initially bought by 777 Partners during the COVID-19 pandemic and designated to the leisure carrier on long-term leases. But earlier in April, 777 Partners’ creditors created a new vehicle to take control of 30 MAX-8 aircraft linked to 777 Partners. Administrator Hall Chadwick said planes would remain grounded until May 2 and advised passengers with bookings not to go to the airport. It is still considering whether to keep trading including the employment of all staff. Virgin Australia and Jetstar scrambled to repatriate stranded travellers for free on Tuesday, after being asked by transport minister Catherine King. Bonza’s backer, Miami-based firm 777 Partners, appointed KordaMentha earlier this month to evaluate its options after its fleet of Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft were rolled into a new vehicle by its senior funder. The formal appointment of Hall Chadwick as voluntary administrators means KordaMentha will step back from its advisory role.

Star Entertainment Group chairman David Foster has been removed from his position by the company’s board, days after he tried to justify text messages that called for the scrapping of the casino regulator and removal of the manager controlling its Sydney casino licence. His successor, Anne Ward, was named on the same day that a NSW casino inquiry heard former Star boss Robbie Cooke ignored advice and the job “almost killed him”, according to fellow director Deborah Page. Mr Foster, who became chairman in March last year, was insistent last week that he was best placed to steer the challenged casino group  forward, despite admitting he was “trigger-happy” with his text messages and conceding the Sydney casino was unsuitable to regain its licence. David Foster was removed as chairman of Star over the weekend.   Ms Ward last week revealed she was in a minority in her desire to remove former chief executive Mr Cooke in December.  “The board met without Mr Foster and resolved to change the chairman,” Ms Ward told the independent inquiry on Monday. “Members of the board had come to the view that new leadership was required and that was the decision. Ms Ward was elected over the weekend, and confirmed Mr Foster would continue with his executive responsibilities and stay on the board until a new CEO was found. Mr Foster has taken a temporary leave of absence from his other chairman positions at Youi and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. Ms Ward is currently chairwoman of ASX-listed e-commerce group Redbubble and communication software provider Symbio. She was formerly a director of Crown Resorts. “My vision for a transformed Star would be one where the businesses are compliant with all relevant regulations and obligations, where there is strong leadership in place at all relevant levels … and where there is an open, honest and constructive relationship with the relevant regulators,” Ms Ward said. Mr Foster’s removal comes a week after he conceded to the independent inquiry, run by Adam Bell, SC, that the gaming giant was unsuitable to operate a casino in Sydney. Mr Foster was also questioned about a series of “heat of the moment” texts between him and Mr Cooke that discussed the removal of Sydney’ special manager Nick Weeks and a potential class action by shareholders. Since December, Star Entertainment has lost its CEO, chief financial officer, chief legal officer, chief customer officer, chief transformation officer, chief of staff and the CEO of its Gold Coast precinct.

The federal government will strengthen Australia’s triple-zero emergency system and roll out new rules mandating how telcos communicate with their customers, after it accepted all 18 recommendations from a review into last year’s national Optus outage. More than 2000 Optus customers were unable to get through to emergency services during the November 8 outage, sparking widespread frustration with the telco and raising fresh questions about the reliability of Australia’s triple-zero system. A subsequent probe lead by telecommunications veteran Richard Bean into the outage has recommended a raft of reforms for the sector, including the establishment of a triple-zero custodian; 6-monthly end-to-end tests of the triple-zero system; and new requirements for how telcos communicate with their customers during an outage. Complaints handling will also be standardised, after many Optus customers were left disappointed by the company’s offer of 200 gigabytes of extra data in compensation.

Twitter Australia is expected to be wound up by the end of 2024 after new documents filed with the corporate regulator show it reported just $3.4 million in revenue in the first half of 2023, plunging more than 80%. These documents represent its final submission before being taken private. Twitter was absorbed by Elon Musk’s X Holdings II company and delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in October 2022. The chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla, Mr Musk paid $US44 billion for Twitter. He cut roughly 80% of Twitter’s staff over the months that followed, as well as most other costs. In the chaos and controversy, many advertisers pulled advertising from X. A glimpse into the Australian entity presents an undesirable business. With $3.4 million in revenue, Twitter Australia Holdings spent $1.2 million on sales and marketing, $285,000 on administration, $99,000 on research and development, and $21,000 on anything else. Its operating profit for the first six months of 2023 was $1.9 million – almost all of which went to the tax office. Its net profit was $4804. Salaries were slashed 87%, to $1.2 million from $9 million. Bonuses were cut to $258,000 from $1.4 million – an 82% fall. Marketing expenses were cut 93%, to just $61,000 from $821,000. Facilities expenses were slashed by 99% to just $2880 – after the axe fell, most employees were working from home.  It even saved thousands of dollars on its audit bill by switching from KPMG Australia to RSM Australia Partners, which billed $25,500 in 2023. Twitter paid $1.5 million as a dividend to its parent in 2023, and the financial statements said it paid $2.9 million in January 2024. After paying more than $1 million to its executives in 2022, and despite having a listed managing director for Australia (Angus Keene), there were no “key management personnel” identified in 2023. Twitter has always been a relatively tiny part of the Australian advertising landscape. In 2021, Twitter made $14.8 million in revenue in an advertising market worth $19.7 billion, according to PwC estimates. Twitter’s cash flows reveal it received $8.2 million in receipts over the half, down from the 2022 calendar year’s $21.6 million. The local company reported “no revenue generating activities” from July 1 last year, being in the process of winding up. The financials lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission were prepared on “a non-going-concern basis”. “Twitter Australia Holdings Pty Ltd has ceased all revenue generating activities effective from 1 July 2023 and is expected to deregister the company in 2024.” Mr Musk, who has been battling with the Australian government and eSafety commissioner over allowing violent videos on the platform, told them to “go f— yourself”.

The corporate watchdog has raided a Gold Coast-based cryptocurrency miner, which allegedly encouraged investors to put their super into crypto products without a financial licence, amid fears $62 million put in by savers would disappear. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission obtained Federal Court orders this month to have insolvency and advisory firm McGrathNicol appointed receivers of NGS’s digital assets, which the corporate regulator alleged was the best way to protect assets that are “at risk of dissipation” More than 450 Australians invested about $US41 million ($A62 million) in products offered by blockchain mining company NGS Crypto. ASIC alleges the NGS group of companies provided financial advice without a licence. ASIC alleges the group of NGS companies targeted Australians to transfer money from regulated super funds to self-managed super funds to invest in blockchain mining packages with fixed-rate returns. Two directors of the NGS group of companies have previously been involved with now-defunct investment companies. One of the businesses went under with the two directors owing $500,000 via their own drawing of funds and intercompany loans to their related companies. McGrathNicol has been appointed as receiver manager over the digital assets of NGS Crypto, NGS Digital and NGS Group, based in Hong Kong, where Brett Mendham, Ryan Brown and Mark Ten Caten are sole directors respectively of the three companies, The court has ordered the companies and their directors to hand over all books, and other records relating to digital currency assets. This includes passwords and credentials for any crypto or blockchain assets. The court also ordered that the companies and directors be prevented from shifting any crypto offshore, or selling any digital currency assets. The orders do not prevent NGS and its directors from paying out Australian investors in its blockchain products. However, they prevent NGS from advertising, promoting, or carrying on any financial services in Australia. Mr Mendham and Mr Ten Caten, also known as Tencaten, are also former directors and shareholders of World Binary Exchange, which was wound-up by ASIC in 2018, and Australian Global Markets, which had liquidators voluntarily appointed in 2013. Mr Brown was not a director or shareholder of either company, according to ASIC documents.

The growing scandals now swirling around leading shopping giant Super Retail Group is quickly turning into a soap opera akin to titillating TV show Married at First Sight than the operations of one of Australia’s biggest retailers, with fresh accusations of a cover up of an alleged undisclosed affair between Super Retail chief executive Anthony Heraghty and his former head of human resources, victimisation of whistleblowers and misleading investors about the true goings on at the company. In another sensational day of claims and counter claims that has now bedeviled Super Retail since Friday when a string of salacious and other improper workplace behaviours were announced to the stock exchange, specialist workplace law firm Harmers Workplace Lawyers has revealed they have proof that an undisclosed intimate relationship did exist between CEO Mr Heraghty and the retailer’s chief of HR, Jane Kelly, and that the until now secret relationship has been disclosed to some members of the Super Retail staff. “The board of Super Retail has allegedly known of the relationship since December 2023 – despite Super Retail’s strident denials of that very relationship until as recently as this month,” Harmers said in a statement on Monday. Harmers, which is a specialist workplace law firm that has carved out a niche in sexual harrasment cases, also claimed on Monday that a third party, not connected to Super Retail, has now come forward with “key evidence” of the undisclosed affair which it has put to the retailer. This is despite the Super Retail board having investigated the claims of an affair and reporting to the ASX that it found no evidence of the romantic tryst nor any other workplace grievances. The board backed the CEO completely on Friday, but now faces a strong denial itself and counterattack from Harmers, on behalf of its clients, and claims of fresh evidence that proves the affair existed. The fuse to the somewhat lewd and increasingly nasty legal fight was lit on Friday when Super Retail outed itself to the stockmarket by disclosing it was facing a legal threat from Harmers on behalf of a number of Super Retail executives claiming bullying, excessive workloads, improper use of company travel and capped with the staggering allegation of the affair between Mr Heraghty and his head of HR, Ms Kelly. Ms Kelly is not reported to be one of the employers represented by Harmers and left the company in late 2023. Last week Super Retail strenuously denied the allegations, as well as the illicit affair, and said the law firm could launch a legal case and claim loss and damages for its clients of $30m to $50m. It said it was awaiting to be served with legal documents and a statement of claim in the courts, both of which are yet to materialise, but strongly defended its CEO before the market and investors to report no evidence of any wrongdoing had been found by the board and its external investigatory advisors. However, Harmers has now returned fire and on Monday warned that Super Retail was causing further damage to its clients and that it has informed a number of Super Retail board members and the company’s former external auditor about the allegations, that range from the illicit affair to misuse of the company’s travel budget. In a fresh statement issued Monday, Harmers revealed it is acting for four Super Retail employees and that another person unconnected to the retailer has now come forward with “key evidence” about the previously undisclosed personal relationship between Mr Heraghty and his former direct report, Ms Kelly.  “We are confident that other current and former Super Retail staff will support our clients’ claims.” The Harmers statement said Super Retail had now admitted to unnamed staff that the affair between the CEO and its former head of HR did in fact take place despite repeated public denials,

And that’s it for this week. And next week, I’ll be talking to Future X Collective co-founder Angela Ferguson about the challenges of the hybrid workplace.

And I will talk to RMIT economist Sinclair Davidson about the challenges for Jim Chalmer’s next budget.

For the most exclusive access to leading economists and business leaders from around the world, subscribe to Talking Business from my website

If you like Talking Business, please leave us a review with Apple podcasts. Thank you in advance.

In the meantime you can catch me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. And if you want leave a comment.

If you want to contact me, email me at I answer all emails.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy week. And looking forward to bringing you Talking Business next week