Brian Edwards Media

A brief assessment of the players in the Hotchin/Sainsbury/Close Up interview


Close Up – Undoubtedly a major coup, though I suspect that Hotchin, or an agent on his behalf, approached the programme. However, the  production team blotted its copy book badly by totally abandoning editorial balance and showing clips damaging to Hotchin –  largely newspaper headlines – while Hotchin was speaking. An appalling lapse in editorial judgement.

Hotchin – Plausible and persuasive. I thought he was very good. His appearance has been and will be dismissed as a PR exercise and there may well be an element of truth in that. But the risks inherent in taking part in a live and predictably aggressive television interview were considerable. And, in the end, all the PR in the world will not assist the lying or dishonest television interviewee. The audience will see through him.     

Sainsbury – Handled the interview well. Asked the questions that viewers, and some at least of those who lost money in Hanover, would have wanted asked. Somewhat repetitive and it really would be good if Mark could put his questions in a less excitable way. But overall a good performance.

Campbell Live – Ended its show last night with an undignified piece of sour grapes in which John bewailed the fact that Hotchin was appearing on his competitor’s programme and re-ran old Campbell Live clips which served merely to explain why Hotchin had gone to Close Up.  John is the superior broadcaster of the two, but would he have done this particular interview better? I doubt it.

The Viewers – Will many have changed their view of Hotchin after watching the interview? Probably not.

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  1. 1

    Diane Gilliam-Weeks


  2. it was n’t his fault…blame it on the GFC,the trustees and Allied.Its not his house,hes not a trust beneficiary(bet his wife is),he put more into Hanover than he took out!yeah right.Not afraid to walk down the street,but had bodyguards at meetings.In hindsight the Fiji bash and the Hawaiian holiday with a personal trainer was not a ‘good look’.Smooth operator is Mark but as shakespeare said the Prince of darkness….is a gentleman.Will not be back to live in NZ guaranteed.

  3. Listening to the interview reinforced one question that has long been in my mind, and that is why is Hotchin taking all the flak for the Hanover debacle.

    His mate, Watson, as far as I am aware, is leading a cosy and undisturbed lifestyle in Europe.

    All those financial advisors who recommneded Hanover to their clients have been largely untouched.

    A ‘celebrity’ newsreader who fronted the advertising, and with minimal knowledge of Hanover affairs exhorted investors to choose Hanover. Sadly because of his perceived status in the eyes of many I think he probably persuaded a lot of people that Hanover was a sound institution. It is a pity that these so called celebrities cannot be held personally liable for offering an opinion on something for which they are manifestly unqualified, when their advice results in someone suffering a financial loss.

    Then there were the remaining directors and senior managers all of whom have escaped scot free.

    And finally there were the investors. To anyone who bothered to read the financial pages or do some research in the two or three years before the finance companies started collapsing, the warning signs were all there. If you cannot be bothered to do proper research you should put your money into a trading bank and to put large sums of money into institutions that lend money on cars and property developments all for an extra 1% risk premium, is financial stupidity. So these investors should examine their own actions.

    I have no feeling for Hotchin one way or another; but why are he and his wife copping all the abuse?

    BE: Hotchin’s own answer to your question was that Watson is resident in Britain.

  4. Agree Brian – fair analysis. Disagree with Ben but can understand why, without researching the matter, he has jumped to those conclusions. As Hotchin said himself Watson had very little involvement in the day-to-day business – it was entirely Hotchin’s show. Also, interesting “real stories” coming out of the NBR in the last couple fo days about a developer, Tony Gapes, saying Hotchin had a secret side deal with him to share in the profits of the deal Hanover lent money on. This was the same argument run by another developer, Mark Cooper, when Hanover tried to collect its debts. If these allegations were true it would be fraud by Hotchin committed against Hanover. From an outside observer’s standpoint it is hard to know what’s what but there’s certainly a bit of a whiff especially when looked at alongside a Serious Fraud Office investigation and Securities Commission investigation. It would have been surprising, but refreshing, if Sainsbury or in fact any media commentator, actually was able to move away from the muck story of “but what about your $30m house” and grilled this guy on his business practices – after all it was Hotchin who clearly was running the show and presumably had personal responsibility for the information the Board and independendent directors (and therefore the auditors and trustee) were getting to see. If Hotchin’s poppoing up again stimulates a more probing investigative journalism and less of the superficial stuff. But I doubt it!

  5. Putting a large sum of money into a family trust of which he is not a beneficiary.hmmmm.I don’t agree that the investors were stupid.They were taken in by some very smart marketing.The 1% over the margin added to an air of security.The Richard Long ad reeked of trust.The 30 million dollar mansion looked like a company that was on the way up.
    Mark Hotchin appears very believable on close up,but thats just a trained persona(something Dr Edwards specialises in). The SFO is still where this story stands or falls.
    One of the better efforts by Mark Sainsbury but that may be because they didn’t seem to be in conflict with each other,I still say hand him over to Mary Wilson or Kim Hill and see where it leads

    BE: I can see that we’re going to get a lot of this nonsense about the image miracles which PR people and media consultants like Judy and me can achieve. Here’s what the (still unequalled) doyen of British television interviewers, Sir Robin Day, had to say about this in his autobiography:

    “When a TV interviewer questions a politician, this is one of the rare occasions, perhaps the only occasion outside Parliament, when a politician’s performance cannot be completely manipulated or packaged or artificially hyped. Some TV answers can, of course, be prepared by scriptwriters and committed to memory, but not all. The answers cannot be on autocue as for an address to camera.

    “The image-maker can advise on how to sit, or what hairstyle to have, or on voice quality. But once the interview has started, the politician is on his or her own… Provided there is time for probing cross-examination, the politician cannot be wholly shielded against the unexpected. The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.

    “In a newspaper interview, the politician may flannel or fudge, but in a TV interview the flannelling and fudging can be seen and judged by the viewing public, just as the jury in a court can form their opinion of the candour and the credibility of a witness.”

    In our own media training we spend no more than 5 minutes on the cosmetic side of things. It’s of limited importance. The first thing we say to people who come on our courses is: “Be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes.” The reasons? That’s what works best; that you will eventually be found out if you lie or dissemble; that TV viewers in particular are very good readers of non-verbal signals; that the indispensable thing you need before any media interview is the liberating feeling that you have nothing to hide.

    And, by the way, the idea that more aggressive interviewing will necessarily produce a better result is just plain wrong. You’ve got a brain as a viewer. Use it. After all, in your own opinion, Mr Hotchin didn’t succeed in pulling the wool over your eyes.

  6. Watson may well be resident in Britain. He could be resident in Outer Mongolia for all I care but that does not explain why he is not attracting the same opprobrium as Hotchin. Why are SST reporters not beating a path to Watson’s door (preferably with working tape recorders)? Could it be that Hawaii is a more attractive option for reporters?

  7. Ruth, I have not jumped to any conclusions and I was well aware of Watson’s lesser involvement. However it is not a defence for a company director (and Watson was the ‘leading director) to say he had little to do with the day to day operations of the company so it’s not his fault.

    It is not a defence for a company director to say that he did not know what was going on.

    There is a concept in law of wilful blindness where an individual seeks to avoid responsiibitly by trying to avoid knowledge of certain actions.

    Watson cannot avoid any blame just because of his lack of day to day involvement. As a director he should have made it his business to find out how the company was operated. Similarly all the other directors had a similar duty in law.

    The major differnece between Watson and Hotchin is that Watson had the good sense to go to ground and not attract attention to himself.

  8. had a friendly interview with one of his fans…Mike Hosking this morning.All timed to show remorse while his case is currently before the courts.Calculating and unconvincing.Sainsbury let him off too easy.

    BE: I really can’t follow your argument. If he was ‘calculating and unconvincing’ then surely the interviews served to reveal that.

  9. Anyone happen to listen to Mike Hosking interview Mark Hotchin this morning? On the strength of what I heard, I can’t see Hotchin lying down quietly. Then again, plausible rogues abound: I’ve worked for more than a few.

  10. pjr :”Putting a large sum of money into a family trust of which he is not a beneficiary.hmmmm
    Isn’t that the same line that a certain prominent MPs used?

  11. BE: “However, the production team blotted its copy book badly by totally abandoning editorial balance and showing clips damaging to Hotchin – largely newspaper headlines – while Hotchin was speaking. An appalling lapse in editorial judgement.”

    Agree. It wasn’t a good idea to have the split-screen with the contemporaneous showing of the interview together with clips of the palatial mansion. It did signal a calculated predisposition to invoke a viewer bias against Hotchin. The intro was acceptable, though.

    Really, Mark Sainsbury wasn’t probing enough with his questioning. It needed someone with more knowledge as to how Hanover was run. And what occurred in the aftermath when the moratorium was granted. As an example: Hotchin makes much of the fact that he and Watson contributed $78M into Hanover, in their effort to shore it up. Sainsbury should have asked as to whether this princely amount of $78m was made up by way of hard cash, or did it come by way of flicking off their own highly-leveraged over-valued assets (aka “junk”) on to the over-burdened backs of the investors? Answer: the latter. Looked good but no worth.

    Sainsbury needed to ask: How can it be that over $500 million of investors’ money has now dissipated into the ether? And was Hotchin’s trust a way of constructing a firewall, allowing him to state that he’s not that rich? Isn’t the primary reason why trusts are created: to keep your assets out of reach from your creditors?

    Sorry, I do not see anything that is “plausible and persuasive” in Hotchin’s demeanour; I see more of the same — subtle deflection of his own culpability on to others. He blames Alloway for the eye-watering impairment of Hanover’s asset values. Accusing him of “wholesaling” Hanovers’ assets out the door at knockdown prices. The stark reality is: that there is no “retail” value. Those assets are only worth what a “willing buyer” is prepared to pay. Hardly, if any, of Hanover’s assets are income-producing. There’s no revenue stream to mitigate the contingent interest liabilities to those higher up the lending chain. Compounding interest, just like rust, never sleeps. Very easy for Hotchin to say that Alloway needed to hold on to them and manage those assets until the market recovered; thus, allowing for an ordered sell down. But much of those assets are lifestyle and coastal properties. Knowledgeable real estate commentators are on record as stating that there will be no upturn in that type of market for years to come. Another generation, so to speak.

    It’s clear that AF were under-capitalised to procure Hanover’s rubbish. And, certainly, were in no position to keep them until Time Immemorial. But to blame Alloway for such an erosion of value, in such a short space of time of the takeover, is dishonest. Because the values were never there in the first instance. All those values were ramped up into the stratosphere of Make-Believe. And Alloway, much to his chagrin, is now discovering the real values as he fights to keep Allied Farmers from being destroyed. It could be that: he’s made a move to take over one company only to lose his own. Hotchin (the artful salesman) sold Alloway a turkey, telling him — his Hanover bird could do aerial somersaults and hunt down peregrine falcons. Well, it can’t. And never could.

    Hotchin came across as glib and forever self- assured; with no real appreciation as to the havoc Hanover has wreaked. All lip service.

    Mike Hosking made a good fist of his interview with Hotchie on Newstalk ZB, demonstrating acute mental agility by asking questions based on the answers he received.

  12. Hotchin has now changed his story regarding the family trusts where his assets are stashed:

  13. I absolutely disagree that this was at all a credible interview or that the key questions were asked. Focusing on the Fijian holiday and the house in Paratai Drive are red herrings. It is not a crime to be wealthy in this country. (And don’t tell me Mark Hotchin suffers from tall poppy syndrome. Sir Graham Liggins was a “tall poppy”. Hotchin is not.)

    Among other things …

    I would have liked to have heard Sainsbury ask Mr Hotchin why, as director, he approved the payment of a dividend of $17.5 million for the January-June 2008 period. Did he really believe, in early 2008, in the middle of the GFC, paying out such a dividend was appropriate and in the best interests of the company?

    When he signed that s52 director’s certificate did he really believe that after payment of the dividend the Company would, immediately after payment of the dividend, satisfy the solvency test? I find it hard to believe, especially considering Hanover’s moratorium issued in July 2008, that any director in their right mind could have believed that paying dividends in the 6 months’ prior was in the best interests of the company.

    I would have liked Sainsbury to put it to Mr Hotchin that blaming the Allied deal did not accurately reflect events, as most of the damage was done much earlier – the Allied deal came in December 2008.

    I would have liked more rigorous interrogation of the related party transaction money-go-round that the Securities Commission is undoubtedly focusing on. It seemed to me that Sainsbury did not understand the questions on this topic, or Hotchin’s answer to them (and the questions on this one are a thesis topic all of their own).

    I would have liked Sainsbury to ask Hotchin to justify why he shouldn’t’t be found guilty of reckless trading under s135 of the Companies Act : “caus[ing] or allow[ing] the business of the company to be carried on in a manner likely to create a substantial risk of serious loss to the company’s creditors”.

    Anyway those were a few of the questions I would have liked seen answered. Among many others. So I don’t agree the Sainsbury handled the interview well, or that Hotchin was either plausible or persuasive.

    BE: What you would have liked is the sort of interview that someone like you would like. That would probably require an hour-long discussion, dealing with complex legal and financial issues. Perhaps a Kiwi version of Hard Talk. Sainsbury has roughly 22 minutes of air time, in which his (undeclared) prime function is to beat John Campbell in the ratings – which he does. His mandate is to be a populist broadcaster. What we need, what we have never had in New Zealand is a non-commercial, public service channel.

    There’s also the notion in your and other comments that it’s the words that matter. But all the research that I’ve seen puts the importance of the general impression made by an interviewee at 80% and the importance of what is said at 20%. Viewers act rather like jurors, especially in trails involving complex forensic evidence – they work on intuition. And it’s a very good way to work.

    A further point is that, in all interviews,a degree of sympathy or prejudice, often related to profession, exists towards the interviewee before he or she has said a word. The level of prejudice against Hotchin is so high that even the most brilliant performance on his part would have been likely to shift it.

  14. Eric Watson ceased to act as a director of Hanover in 2006.

  15. BE says in response to LS: I really can’t follow your argument. If he was ‘calculating and unconvincing’ then surely the interviews served to reveal that.

    Brian, the difficulty is that unless the interviewer has a decent research department (I would imagine budget contraints would render this unlikely) or has had the time, inclination and ability to work thorugh and understand in detail the complexity of the situation, the chances that they reveal anything other than some more sound-bites to be interpreted one way or the other is unlikely. That’s what I like so much about Gen’s and Merv’s posts – they explicitly set out some basic, informative yet probing questions which if asked by someone who had the ability to interpret the first round of fend-off answers coming back at them, would surely have had at least some chance of revealing something. It is possible LS has a greater knowledge of Hanover or the finance company space and therefore could see through Hotchin’s answers. Who knows. But I think we need to be informed and educated in order to properly assess this and in order to compensate for the lack of depth adopted by these hand-picked journos. Thank you Gen and Merv.

  16. BE also says “The level of prejudice against Hotchin is so high that even the most brilliant performance on his part would have been likely to shift it.”

    Brian, it’s fair to say intuition and impressions matter. Of course they do. Prejudice by definition though is judgement without factual basis. Surely the objective is to overcome prejudice with probing questions and reveal facts in order to minimise prejudice and maximise fairness? Why is it that Hotchin chose these short forums to be interviewed rather somewhere more probing that would allow prejudice to be overcome? An interview by Fran O’Sullivan or Kim Hill comes to mind. If he truly is an innocent as he claims he should want to let the facts speak for themselves. And yet….

  17. Couched in clear, straightforward language, I don’t think any of the question I would have liked asked would have befuddled viewers. They were directly relevant to the topic. Why invite someone like Hotchin on and then bang on about his Fijian holiday? Having a holiday in Fiji is not a crime – if it was most of Remmers would be incarcerated.

    You don’t need a law degree to understand or deliver business news, which is what this is.
    If we keep treating TV audiences like muppets with the intelligence of a labradoodle that’s exactly what we’ll end up with.

    I’m not anti media training – by all means use it if you feel you need to. But surely the role of the fourth estate, especially in a current affiars show, is to understand the issues and ask the hard questions in a way that will enlighten their audiences. Sainsbury didn’t do either. I don’t feel like he pushed back on any of Hotchin’s answers at all, mainly because I didn’t feel he really understood of it himself.

  18. If you want to hear some of the technical questions asked and answered, Nadine Chalmers-Ross interviewed Mark Hotchin on AMP Business this morning:

    There’s a follow-up in Breakfast. Corin Dann talks to lawyer Tim Rainey, who represents around 3000 Hanover investors, and who presents a very reasoned and reasonable assessment:

  19. What a joke! Allowing myself to get sucked into the ZB Junior Request Session this morning.

    Hoskings had already nailed his colors to the mast some months ago, all too ready to jump to Hotchins defence, saying New Zilanders were always quick to criticize anyone they thought was a ‘tall poppy’.

    Listening to him this morning just reinforced what a patsy interview, he had pre-arranged with The Hotch.

    To be honest, they are just as bad as each other, a right pair of Merchant Bankers.

  20. Thanks for those JC. Poor Nadine. She had just over 6 minutes and did not make the obvious point – although she got close. When Hotchin took millions out as a dividend and used some of it to repay related party loans, that did not give the company any more cash than it had beofre it paid the dividend, by definition. The only real benficiary of Hotchin’s largesse in doing so was Hotchin himself – because he took those dividends out of Hanover and used them to pay off debt that he owed. If you were thinking of cutting and running that seems like a wise thing to do from his standpoint. Didn’t help anyone else. It is like a bank robber raisig in his defence once caught that he used the stolen money to pay off his mortgage to the very bank he robbed – therefore no harm done. Give us a break. Mark Hotchin’s repeated cynical answer to that key question about the dividends and the inability for the interviewers to call him out on it goes to the heart of this discussion.

  21. Gen, “Why invite someone like Hotchin on and then bang on about his Fijian holiday? Having a holiday in Fiji is not a crime – if it was most of Remmers would be incarcerated”.

    Perhaps because it is the Fiji holidays, party in Hawaii, Porche on the Gold Coast (sorry, if I’ve got the tedious details muddled!) that media like the SST banged on about in the first place, that caught the public imagination and ire. Contrast with Alan Hubbard and his VW!

    Agree the interview was truncated, due to the time allocated. The questions you would have liked to have been asked are reasonable – but in the context most viewers would quickly lose interest in the complexities.

    I think Brian is right on how juries/viewers make decisions. Take a poll on the 2 Bain trials, ask folks who have an opinion on the verdicts, then ask them why – I doubt in most cases you’ll get a response that corresponds to the details that were presented in court/on TV.

    I think radio, or print are better mediums to explore the complexities you wanted – as has been detailed above.

    BE: The media complement one another. Where news and analysis are concerned, television is a headline medium, radio (Radio New Zealand at least) is more discursive medium and newspapers give you the opportunity to explore issues in more depth. With a newspaper, you control the process – you can choose to read only what interests you and to go back and reread complex material again; with radio and television, the broadcaster controls the process. The consumers of radio and television also tend to be more distracted in their listening/viewing than a person reading the paper. But with radio and newspapers, you can’t see the whites of their eyes or read their body language.

  22. Rod Petrucivich,Reeves,Moses,Hobbs,Podmore,Peters,Ludlow,Kirk,Bowden,John Hotchin and Watson/Mark Hotchin all the same M.O.Related party loans,capitalised interest,slick marketing,extracting divvys on paper ‘profits’…schemes designed to fail and enrich successful failures .A long NZ tradition…RJI,Cap Mkts,Chase Corp,Equiticorp,ETC,ETC.

  23. Kimbo, are you advocating tabloid journalism at the expense of getting behind the real facts or lamenting it? If the latter, I suspect you, me and Gen will find our points of view oddly reconciled – as weird as that might seem…

  24. The Fijian holiday is a distraction because there is nothing inherently illegal or immoral about going on a holiday with your hard earned cash.

    There IS something illegal and immoral about getting that cash through using the limited liability company structure for your own enrichment, not putting the best interest of the company first at all in times, failing to disclose interests in related party transactions, repayment of company debts to move assets away from creditors – you get my drift.

    None of which Hotchin’s been convicted of doing. I’d just like to hear his answers to the allegations instead of pansy “Are you sorry?” questions (err, like he’s going to say No.)

    The time would be better spent making Hotchin explain why he believed:

    (1)why it was okay to pay out dividends in Jan – July 2008, mid GFC?
    (2)whether he thought he’d acted recklessly – i.e. in a manner likely to create a substantial risk of serious loss to the company’s creditors?
    (3) if the answer the (2) was “no I didn’t”, ask him justify it in light of the situation Hanover found itself in in July 2008.
    (4)instead of accepting the vague answer about “liquidity” re the related party transactions, asking him whether he felt he’d adequately disclosed all these related party transactions to investors.
    (5) Get some concrete examples of those related party transactions and ask him whether Joe Blogs in Matamata would have thought those dealings were kosher.
    (6) Ask him how many companies in which he had some sort of interest did Hanover lend to?

    See, I don’t think any of these questions are THAT hard for viewers to understand. Not if you phrase them well. Yes it would have required a bit of homework by the interviewer, maybe an hour talking to a corporate lawyer or an investment banker but nothing too onerous.

    And I think viewers wold have been thrilled to see Hotchin properly under the kosh – I doubt anyone interested enough to tune in would have been flicking over to Shorty.

    BE: I really ought not to bother responding to comments. But I’ll try again. All those ‘armchair interviewer’ questions are legitimate. BUT: Neither Close Up nor Campbell Live reallly function as investigative current affairs programmes. They are magazine programmes and their function is to retain the ratings momentum generated by the preceding news bulletins. Most items get no more than 6 or 7 minutes. This edition of Close Up at least devoted its full 22 minutes to the topic. You simply aren’t going to get the sort of interview you want in prime time. The interview you want, or presumably something resembling what you want was on AMP Business at sparrowfart this morning. The interviewer is a business specialist, the programme is sponsored and no-one is too worried about ratings or advertising revenue.

    My understanding is that you’d like a more probing or aggressive interviewer. “viewers wold have been thrilled to see Hotchin properly under the kosh” . The phrase suggests it would have been the combat you’d have enjoyed, the baddie getting a hiding, rather than the intellectual satisfaction of the cross-examination. Fair enough too. But it’s worth remembering that there are three people in an interview, not just two – the interviewer, the interviewee and the viewer. And the viewer has a brain and can and does ask his/her own questions and forms his/her own judgements on the merits of the interviewee’s argument. You don’t think this was a very good interview, but at the end of it, you had formed a pretty clear view of the merits of Hotchin’s replies. The one thing you missed was the blood on the floor.

  25. Ha Ruth! I agree print is a better medium for the discussion, but there’s nothing like the immediacy of an interview subject floundering on TV.

    BE: I was right. You’re really a closet fan of Big Time Wrestling (for intellectuals of course).

  26. It is pretty clear that Hotchin’s appearance was intended (from his perspective) to set the record straight on the Allied deal. I think he is fully entitled to do that. Despite the Shareholders Assoc view that Hotchin sold Allied a pup, the fact is they did their due diligence and simply are not entitled to blame Hotchin unless they were deliberately misled as part of that process.

    One detects a certain sheepishness in Hotchin’s demeanour as he surveys the past and views his own conspicuous consumption and associated ambition. Both Bob Jones and Olly Newland were frank enough to do the same in the eighties.

    I wish that some of the small people who equally entered into the spirit of the times would actually acknowledge to themselves if not to others that they were subject to the same temptation. I know many Hanover investors were solid conservative types but many of us were not and it is really unedifying to see so much hypocrisy as we search for our scapegoats.

  27. You could all ask him yourselves. He has suddenly appeared on Facebook (Mark Hotchin Gold Coast), where you can send him a message, and Twitter (HotchinNZ) and is tweeting – and replying – enthusiastically. I suspect he will live to regret this.

    Of course, this could all be a set up by some mischievous elf – who knows? In the meantime, enjoy.

    Later: Yes, definitely an elf!

  28. “Kimbo, are you advocating tabloid journalism at the expense of getting behind the real facts or lamenting it?”

    Not sure where you are going with that question. Don’t think the two should ever be contradictory – tabloid journalism and the truth, that is.

    I may have pointed out before, the term “muckraker” was a badge of honour for the newspaper servicing the American working classes about a 100 years ago, when big business had inordinate comparative power to the little people. Muckrakers were one of the few resources available to equalise the equation.

    Just think TV is a “cold medium”. Deals more in impressions. Radio is better for dealing with complex detail – as is print. I’d expect the ‘more respectable’ print dailies to fill that niche, rather than, say, the SST.

  29. Your questions are fair, as is your assessment of the Fiji holiday. Gald to see we are all apparently on the same page that the SST thing with Amanda had VERY LITTLE to do with Mark Hotchin and Hanover (which begs the question, why did the SST run it?).

    Personally, I would have expected a harder follow up to the “I’m not to blame – Allied is” response from Hotchin, in regards to responsibility.

    Seems an obvious rejoinder to ask, “How come your management had led to the situation where the deal/bail out was necessary?”. All very well blaming the GFC, but obviously shows they weren’t managing risk well, as some credit companies didn’t go under.

  30. Kimbo, I believe we are now fully reconciled. Your recognition that the SST thing was a distraction to the main event says to me we’ve come a long way! I agree it was tabloid trash even though it may well have been true. True or not it was a distrraction – at the end of the day so what if Amanda Hotchin is Marie Antoinette? The real issue is whether her hubbie deserves the metaphoric guillotine? And to answer that one necessitates an intelligent analysis of the facts. If Hotchin legitimately feels he has done nothing wrong he will sit down for a detailed and in depth interview with a quality business journalist. Otherwise he will just flitter and twitter, leaving the rest to clever lawyers…

  31. I would not expect a aggressive interview, just one that didnt take the subjects replies as Gospel.I note that Hotchins has deceived us by stating that he was not a beneficiary of the trust but has since recanted to Mike Hosking.My understanding of trusts is that most beneficiaries are subject to the discretion of the trustees.
    I also apologise for suggesting that Dr Edwards would act unethically(Its just the way it came out)Im sure there are tricks used by less than ethical practitioners.The use of Beta Blockers is apparantly one technique.

  32. Brian, I agree (fancy that! Peace in our time.) The format of the 7pm show doesn’t usually allow for the kind of analysis that is required, especially in this sort of example. Print is still the best format for that sort of analysis. But I still think journos owe it to the audience to be more informed on the issues they cover – especially TV, which is (still) so influential.

    I think Sainsbury could have achieved a bit more with this opportunity, and I don’t think the audience is as dim as some might think – assuming the interviewer asks the right questions.

    BE: Fair enough.

  33. Brian, having now witnessed the Hotchin PR blitzkrieg do you stand by your origninal theory that Amanda Hotchin’s email(s) to you were a case of her acting alone? Not much turns on that but it may give some colour….
    Also, Mark Hotchin when asked about what Amanda said gave a definitive “No” on the basis that he was “nearby” – quite interesting because it doesn’t compare well to the postion taken and innuendo in Amnada’s emails. Again, for the record, I think its irrelevant what Mrs Hotchin said or didn’t say – but I think one can still make observations that go to the veracity of the overall cause. Brian, now that Mark Hotchin has put himself out there, why don’t you continue to champion the cause of getting to the truth rather than just those soundbites that suit either him or trashy media that can’t think to ask an enlightening question?

    BE: My impression was that Hotchin based his certainty that Amanda had not said those words, not on the fact that he was ‘nearby’, but because she had denied saying those words and she was a scrupulously honest person.

    Since the Securities Commission and the Serious Fraud Office are examining Hotchin’s affairs, I think my assistance would be superfluous.

    Since we’re on this topic, I can now confirm that Mrs Hotchin did complain to the SST about the Jonathan Marshall story, that they were shown the affidavits and that the paper refused to issue a retraction or apology.

  34. BE: Incoherent rant. Try again.

  35. …just when I was prepared to accept Gen’s “peace in our time” (the inspiration from Neville Chamberlain should have warned me!), and prepare for the Millennium, you break the rapprochement, Ruth. Trust you find the following a dispassionate assessment of your arguments: –

    If the ‘what Manda Hotchin said’ story was a side-issue, and, according to you a distraction, why re-litigate it? I tactfully suggest you are wanting to have your cake and eat it: –

    If Amanda Hotchin, via this site, defends herself against personally-directed and initiated press criticism, it is part of the wider Hotchin-orchestrated charm offensive to deceive the public, by means of a media shell-game. That’s because she could have used legal means of redress…

    But, if she did resort to the courts, that would be typical of the legal bullying the Hotchins have employed in the past. Simply confirms it is ‘business as usual’, and nothing has changed…

    But if she doesn’t defend herself, it is because she is likely to have said it – as evidenced by her lifestyle. In which case the SST, along with Mark’s (non)version of events is not a distraction, but valuable corroborating evidence “that go(es) to the veracity of the overall cause…”

  36. “What we need, what we have never had in New Zealand is a non-commercial, public service channel.”

    Don’t we have that now, in TVNZ7? Whether one thinks it’s doing that job well is a different story, but it is a) non-commercial, and I would certainly argue, based on the sort of programming it shows (Backbenches, The Court Report, Media 7 and the like) that it is certainly a public service channel.

    Having worked for shows on TVNZ7 since its inception (‘Backbenches’, ‘Hindsight’ as of next week), I can tell you from the huge amount of positive feedback we receive directly from viewers that it’s certainly appreciated as such.

    It’s about to become even more so: With TNVZ 6 changing to a youth-oriented commercial channel, the arts and culture programming will also move to TVNZ 7, strengthening the content a great deal.

    Self-interest aside, I really hope funding is renewed past the end of the year, and the channel can eventually grow into something like the ABC in Australia – quality public service broadcasting.

    BE: The fly in the ointment is in your last paragraph. When I appeared on Media 7 with the Minister to discuss this very topic , there was no indication at all that funding for the channel would be extended. That would mean partial commercialisation at best.

  37. ah censorship,by the judge and jury with an axe to grind!

    BE: That must be why pages and pages of comments appear on the site from every part of the opinion spectrum. I declined to publish your comment because I considered it worthless rubbish, not because of whatever viewpoint you were trying to express. Not only that, I invited you to have another go at producing a more coherent comment. Maybe you should consider taking your paranoia to another site, more worthy of your intellect.

  38. Thanks Brian – fair point regarding the Securities Commission and Serious Fraud Office in terms of Hotchin’s ultimate fate. I should have said that where you would add enormous value is giving the Hanover investor’s a “fair go” in terms of the PR in the meantime – although it may not pay well. Whilst much of the media today is muck spread to the Hotchin’s detriment, that same muck is obfuscating a critical media assessment of the potential financial wrongdoing brought upon these poor/naive investors. It is that obfuscation that Hotchin and his PR cronies are trying to take full advantage of now. The most classic and cynical example is the Hotchin mantra around dividends only being taken out in order to be put back in for the benefit of the company. A year 1 accounting student could see through that one. Taking a $1 out as a dividend means there is less equity (safety buffer for the investors), then putting it back in to repay a related party loan means the company has no more cash than it had before the dividend but that Hotchin owes $1 less to the company. The company is worse off. Hotchin is better off. And there’s plenty more. Brian, you are in a unique position to take a leading role in promoting the real interests of these poor families that have lost their savings and who suffer and whose families will suffer a very long time. They need a fair go.

    BE: Ruth – my position as a blogger and as a media trainer would be compromised if the people I was writing about on the blog were also my clients. One of the reasons I have insisted on the fact that I have never had any business dealings with the Hotchins and have provided them with no advice.

  39. Kimbo, you’re right. It was a risk to raise the Amanda Hotchin thing again even though I tried to explain that was not my purpose. The “he said/she said” debate is irrelevant to the greater cause. Thank you for taking time to point that out. My apologies.

  40. “BE: The fly in the ointment is in your last paragraph…. That would mean partial commercialisation at best.”

    I certainly hope not, but time will tell. My main point was that at least while TVNZ 7 is here, it’s important to at least acknowledge its existence – especially if we want it to continue!

    BE: I agree entirely. It’s an excellent start and long may it continue.

  41. Brian, I think you misunderstand me. I was suggesting you champion the cause of getting some intelligent critical thinking into the media coverage of this thing, which at the same time would require Mark Hotchin to be called upon to answer some hard questions. Why, you could even set some of those questions out here – I think Merv and Gen have given you a helping hand already but frankly, unlike the current new school of journos trying to cope with Hotchin, you hardly need much help. The only “client” you’d be acting for is the mythical “greater good”.

  42. And we now know who the PR flack is – Doug Graham’s son (tobacco defender). What does a good PR campaign cost these days $20,000? Plus flights from Aussie, 1st class accommodation, limo hire. Almost broke my arse.

  43. Is Doug Grahams son running PR for his father as well.As a director of Lombard Finance and facing serious charges,he needs it.These finance company principals need to accept their place as modern day pariahs who personify unadulterated greed.

  44. Yeah, go for it Mark, you did nothing wrong! What a guy! Matey, it’s not wrong to rip cash out of an insolvent company as a dividend and then use it to pay off your own debts to that company? And it’s not wrong to artificially create those profits through related party loans in the first place? And it’s not wrong to not disclose personal interest in some of those deals with “small” deals with mates? Mark Hotchin has done nothing wrong!!!!! It’s all Allied Farmer’s fault!!!!! What does he have to do to get you all to get that? I know! He could hire Richard Long to say it on his behalf! That might work?

  45. Gary Stewart, that is ironic. Doug Graham by all accounts is a very honest man who perhaps naively found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time – Lombard Finance. If anyone has an interest in distinguihing the Mark Hotchin’s of this world from the rest it is him. But I guess money has talked to Graham jnr. More’s the pity that the other side to this debate (the investors) don’t have money to make their case – they have to rely on the integrity and intelligence of the media to spell it out for the rest of us.

  46. “…they have to rely on the integrity and intelligence of the media to spell it out for the rest of us”.

    That’s a familiar refrain of yours, Ruth, and fair enough. Thought you were a bit unfair on Brian insisting he should be leading the charge.

    However, have you also considered the capacity of your average fellow Kiwi to work this one out as well – irrespective of the ability of the media? I realise the public does rely on the media for the facts, but I think they are well-capable of distinguishing the product from the packaging.

  47. That’s fair Kimbo but it goes to the heart of where you and I (perhaps only slightly) differ. The average kiwi is capable of working out an “impression” well and I think that has been done in respect of the Hotchin’s. But if one doesn’t also feather that nest with some facts and good detailed analysis the “impression” is left vulnerable in terms of a lack of substance to back it up. That substance vaccuum can be filled with nonsense, like the sort Mark Hotchin espoused about the dividends they took out.
    In terms of “insisting” Brian leads the charge – I don’t think I did that. I encouraged him based on an “impression” gained from a distance that he is a “do the right thing at the end of the day for the greater good” kind of a guy. Far from insisting.

  48. Stop press! A real journalist is in our midst…

  49. Ruth,I was at the meeting when the debt/equity swap happened. Allied didnt rely on Hanover valuations and Alloway insinuated they couldnt be trusted… so they thought the assets were worth $396m and desparately needed them.

    Loughlin the Chairman and a man of integrity bailed because he didnt like the way Alloway was behaving…

    I think Tims Hotchin bashing after the fact. Investors had 2 chances to put the business into receivership but didnt!

  50. Trevor, I too am aware of what went on in those meetings. I share your dismay at the idiocy of not putting the business into receivership. I recall Brice Sheppard being booed and told to shut up when he warned the investors of exactly this outcome. I accept that Allied were as deperate for a lifeline as Hotchin was for an escape route. But none of that changes the fact (in fact quite the contrary it explains it) that the assets were already seriously impaired before they left the Hanover stables. Nor does it change the fact that the dividends ripped out of the company created pressure in terms of the equity buffer in the company which may have affected the voting. Nor does it change the allegations of deals with mates used to prop up asset values (read for voting purposes “hope”) in order to execute the escape which if proven to be true will likely lead to fraud charges for somebody. The fact that those idiots at Allied (and Tim does make it plain that they too have something to answer for) were complicit does nothing to relieve Hotchin of responsibility for his actions.