Back in 2013, Ian Moir, the affable former CEO of Woolworths, was asked what advice he’d give his younger self. "Don’t be so aggressive, don’t be so stupid and wait," he told Moneyweb. Sometimes, he said, "you’ve got to be careful what you wish for, and it’s OK to chase the bus, but you need to know what you’re going to do when you catch up with the bus".

Less than a year later, Moir caught that bus, orchestrating the biggest deal in Woolworths’ life: the R21.4bn purchase of Australian department store chain David Jones. It was, as it happened, the bus he should have watched drive away...

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