All the shiny people glimmer and gossip at star-studded anniversary bash

All the shiny people glimmer and gossip at star-studded anniversary bash

August 25, 2023

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The Laurent-Perrier was flowing freely at Monday night’s star-studded 70th anniversary bash for Arnold Bloch Leibler – and the tongues were wagging. CBD has obtained a drinks menu from the event; if the Perrier was not to your taste, perhaps a nip of Talisker 10 or Balvenie 12?

Even the night’s guest of honour, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, was impressed with the guest list, which included Jon Faine (no doubt closely watched by media watchdog Gerard Henderson), rich-lister Fiona Geminder, University of Melbourne don Duncan Maskell, and the roll-call of pollies CBD detailed yesterday.

PM Anthony Albanese and Mark Leibler on Monday night.Credit: Eamon Gallagher

“I was lucky that I did accept the invitation here because your biography is, of course, called The Powerbroker,” Albo told ABL partner Mark Leibler. “That explains why my Cabinet could have met here rather than in Canberra this morning. Because half of them are here, along with the [Dan] Andrews government and representatives of the opposition at both levels, as well, as well as of course, Sally [Capp] and her team from the council.”

Leibler’s speech laid it on pretty thick – with what sounds to CBD like a pointed dig at scandal-embroiled PwC.

“We’ve all been following the commentary over recent months about the role of professional advisers in shaping government policy, while simultaneously providing the best possible service to their clients,” Leibler said.

Henry Lanzer, Solomon Lew and Mark Leibler on Monday night.Credit: Eamon Gallagher

“I say with confidence that Arnold Bloch Leibler has demonstrated how this can be done, both ethically and highly effectively. Always, and absolutely transparently, in the interests of our clients. That will never change.”

But the real action, as ever, was at the back of the room, not up front, where Antony Catalano was facing his toughest negotiation yet. The master dealmaker and property entrepreneur, who sold Metro Media Publishing Holdings to Fairfax Media for many tens of millions, is now trying to determine how much pocket money his kids should get.

His teenage son is pushing for $200 a week – arguing that he has to spend $10 a day on his lunch at school. Catalano was testing the market among fellow guests about the fair going rate. It’s a decision with big financial implications for the Cat: the father-of-nine risks setting an expensive precedent for future pocket-money negotiations.

Former PwC chief executive Luke Sayers, left, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at the Arnold Bloch Leibler 70th anniversary on Monday.Credit: Patrick Durkin

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews had positioned himself strategically near the back door of the cavernous Grand Hyatt ballroom, with his good mate ex-PwC boss and Carlton president Luke Sayers dispatched to the bar to fetch him a beer. We hear Dan made a quick tactical retreat at the end of the night – not sure why. But it was the sudden gleam of the lights at 8.02pm that signalled a sharp end to the party. The bar closed at the same time, leaving a few multimillionaires still chasing their Perrier.

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