Archive | Corporate

Spatial & Geospatial organisations merge

The Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) and the Geospatial Information Technology Association Australia & NZ (GITA) announced their merger today.

Spatial chair Alistair Byrom said: “The expanded association will continue to deliver services to members as the leading association representing the collective spatial ‘industries’ and the ‘users’ of geospatial technology, particularly those involved in the infrastructure lifecycle. The merger of SIBA & GITA re-enforces the representation of members in advocacy across all 3 tiers of government. The merger facilitates the ability to more effectively leverage scale and to drive growth & innovation for this dynamic & critical cornerstone of Australia & New Zealand’s knowledge economies.”

GITA president Wanda Skerrett (Open Spatial) & past-president Antoine Burdett (Aecom) will be appointed to the board of the merged organisation.

Richard Simpson.

New Zealander Richard Simpson left his roles as chief executive & executive officer of SIBA, based in Brisbane, in May. He continues to operate strategic advisor Meta Moto Group.

The expanded organisation has appointed Deanna Hutchinson as chief executive and Kellee Ireland is executive director.

Links:
SIBA
GITA

Earlier stories:
12 October 2015: Why aim high when we’re just fine on low?
7 July 2005: Simpson the boffin councillor sets path for Auckland to become high-flying technology conference site, with a benchmarking brand

Attribution: Joint release.

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Institutions establish listed company governance guidelines

A group of institutional investors has established a corporate governance forum and released best practice guidelines for listed companies.

Forum chair Anne-Maree O’Connor said yesterday: “Best practice corporate governance is key to individual company performance and essential to the long-term health of New Zealand’s capital markets.

“As institutional investors with significant long-term exposures to the New Zealand market, we have a strong interest in ensuring corporate governance practice in New Zealand is equal with the best in the world.”

Forum members include ACC, ANZ Investments, Devon Funds Management, Forté Funds Management, the Government Superannuation Fund, Harbour Asset Management, National Provident Fund, the NZ Superannuation Fund, Milford Asset Management & Mint Asset Management, which between them manage about $10 billion of New Zealand equities, more than 15% of the total New Zealand equity market.

Ms O’Connor returned to New Zealand in 2006 to join the Guardians of NZ Superannuation after 20 years in Europe, where she’d been managing director of CoreRatings, a rating agency for independent analyses of corporate responsibility-related risks. She’s the super fund’s head of responsible investment.

She said the guidelines explained what institutional investors were looking for in the companies they owned: “Building on the Financial Markets Authority’s guidelines, they promote global best practice in areas particularly pertinent to listed companies & shareholders, such as shareholder relations, director nominations & disclosure.”

Forum steering group member Paul Glass, Devon Funds Management executive chairman, said the guidelines provided a useful starting point for investor engagements with listed companies: “The forum members have strong relationships with company boards and will be using these guidelines as a basis for dialogue on corporate governance matters.”

Financial Markets Authority chief executive Rob Everett said the authority supported the initiative, and NZX chief executive Tim Bennett said the forum & guidelines would help provide clarity & a consistent voice.

Link: Corporate governance forum

Attribution: Forum release.

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Second Greenstone founder eases out next week

Greenstone Group managing director John Abel-Pattinson stepped out of the company last year and fellow founder Kevin Cox will follow him out the door next Tuesday, 31 March.

As they’d done to get through the global financial crisis and with subsequent growth of their business, Greenstone’s 2 founders opted to restructure before events forced change.

When Mr Abel-Pattinson announced early last year he was resigning as managing director, the Auckland-based property services consulting group had the younger blood in place ready to take over and Phil Eaton & Rob Dol were named joint managing directors.

Mr Abel-Pattinson & Kevin Cox left the Landplan Group in 2000 to set up their own business: “We thought the model had some legs and thought we could do it better ourselves. John was only 34 and I was 49,” Mr Cox said.

“It was about the survival in the first 2 years, and you got to 5 years and all of a sudden the momentum happened and we were away. We continued to grow during that period by moving into government work, particularly – pretty low margin but you keep ticking over. Then we went to Malaysia, and have 3-4 guys there now.”

Mr Cox’s objectives weren’t to manage the business but to nurture people’s development, to put together a solid, stable workforce, “a good bunch of guys. I really enjoy the mentoring, giving guys the responsibility and watching them grow. All they need is a chance.”

With the overseas arm of the business, Mr Cox said it needed to be grown locally, and by doing that it had started to gain traction.

“When it was smaller you were always hands on, and when it gets bigger your influence diminishes, though the culture continues because the ethos is important.”

It’s important to Mr Cox that people like doing business with the company: “There’s always a way out without entering legal battles. That attitude is what I personally have brought to the business, and I hope will continue. It’s that fun, having a lot of laughs and celebrating a success, and above all being very compact and having integrity on all aspects.”

Mr Abel-Pattinson & Mr Cox continue in business together through Blackstone Group, a property management operation where the whole management runs on its own. Mr Cox said he expects to be a part-timer there.

Earlier story:
30 April 2014: I don’t want to be the plug at the top of the funnel, says ‘retiring’ Abel-Pattinson

Attribution: Interview.

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Against free-market balderdash, re-examine the role of government in business

An opinion piece published 5 November 2010

“By blocking BHP Billiton’s bid for Potash Corp, Canada has damaged its international reputation,” Stephen Bartholomeusz wrote in the Australian web publication Business Spectator yesterday.

“The Canadian government has damaged the reputation of Canada as an open economy committed to free flows of capital by rejecting BHP Billiton’s proposed $US39 billion bid for Potash Corp,” he wrote.

This week, the Canada Pension Plan went shopping in a joint venture with a fund managed by the Salle Investment Management, buying a regional shopping centre near the German city of Cologne for €157.3 million – an asset nobody got upset about the Canadians’ buying. Back in 2007, the pension plan was in the same position of being blocked by what our nation’s free-economists saw as a spurious Government intervention over strategic assets (land). The Canadians eventually walked away in 2008 from trying to buy into Auckland International Airport Ltd.

Since then, the possible purchase of 16 farms by a Chinese group fronted by businesswoman May Wang has raised more general concern here about the sale of land to foreigners.

The Australian questionmark ignores long-running Australian Government protection of Qantas’ aviation market by preventing Air NZ from picking up/dropping off passengers in Australia en route to/from somewhere else. And in the background to that debate, some of New Zealand’s better known entrepreneurs of times gone by argued that New Zealand didn’t need its own airline because, essentially, an efficient commercial market would see that passengers got here.

Free-marketeers need to move beyond their black-&-white view in 2 ways. First, in relation to the issues above, they need to learn to regard a national interest as if it’s a cornerstone investor in the business. It’s like green building – didn’t exist, was pooh-poohed, has become integral because it makes better sense long-term. Nations aren’t the same as a tilt-slab warehouse; as the proposed Chinese purchase of farms demonstrates, nations can have feelings.

The black-&-white view of governments is that they are an evil which ought to be reduced to the minimum. The main point against them is that they shouldn’t dabble in business because their bureaucracy makes them incompetent. Take the individual out of a government business, though, and get them working in a private-sector equivalent and, miraculously, they become good & more efficient workers.

The missing ingredients on the government business side of the equation are the flexibility to change quickly to meet a new situation and the ability for funds to flow when needed, not distorted by political whim. Change those factors and a government can legitimately be regarded as a cornerstone investor or partner.

So the Canadian Government’s cornerstone position that the national interest is worth something lines up directly with the former New Zealand Government’s view on Auckland Airport and the Australian Government’s view on land rights (oh, and a few mineral deposits as well).

The stern rebuke that a government is damaging the national reputation as an investment target can, in all these instances, be rejected on the grounds that the nation is a cornerstone investor. In each instance, the cornerstone investor is protecting a wider investment value than the specific target of the interloper.

Against that, the notion that capital should be allowed to flow freely without any check is bogus. Put 2 free-marketeers together with an opportunity to increase their profit through collusion, and they will collude. A totally unregulated market would guarantee that.

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Business Spectator, Europe Real Estate, opinion piece written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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NBR goes its own way, leaving me to happily refocus

Published 17 December 2009

The National Business Review runs its last story from me this Friday, its last issue of the year.

 

As usual, you can learn this news on The Bob Dey Property Report first.

 

The newspaper hired me in October 2007 during a fad when it decided to outsource newswriting. Last evening, NBR’s news editor told me the newspaper wanted to take its editorial functions inhouse.

 

The first of those 2 decisions made no sense to me: A contract writer owes no allegiance, most likely has no affinity – similar to a property manager whose pay does not depend on improving the net earnings of investors. Journalists are a cost, but they should also be a resource of rising value.

 

Yesterday’s decision does make sense, if the newspaper is prepared to provide adequate resources (chiefly, quality staff) and is prepared to offer quality support. That’s an unlikely combination, so the product may remain impaired, though time can heal.

 

NBR changed its deadlines for the property pages some months ago, causing a conflict with my Wednesday email newsletter. On that score alone I’d considered dropping the newspaper work and am pleased to be rid of it.

 

I envisage making up the lost earnings by providing you with an even better website in 2010 – a free & open website, supported by more advertising which will be justified by a growing, high-quality audience.

 

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

                                                                                              

Attribution: Story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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World of rorts alive & well, but it’s past time to change that

Published: 3 July 2005


In the middle of a crowded & noisy room on Friday night, I listened, fascinated, to an explanation of a couple of business events which I knew entailed a lot more than appeared on the surface.



On Saturday I got an email from the friend of a supplier who lost $20,000 in the failure of a builder’s company which went into liquidation 5 years ago. 4 years later the builder lost another company. The emailer figured that if the builder in question hadn’t started yet another company by now, he surely would and there would be more suppliers losing out.


Years ago I listened to a senior member of the Institute of Directors as he told me how he would work for new measures to prevent the guts again being ripped out of businesses by passing snake-oil salesmen.


In reverse order, I think little was done post-1987 to stop the sellers of snake oil using their charm, little is done to prevent business collapses or to monitor or help those whose businesses have collapsed, and the world of rorts is as alive & well as ever.


The developer in the top paragraph told me that, one day, he’d tell me the whole story. I’m not at liberty to tell any of it yet but, combined with the effect on the unfortunate supplier mentioned in the next incident, the rorts as outlined were enough to convince me that there is a more valuable role that this website can play.


My emailer, above, sent his message because he’d discovered the builder’s 2nd liquidation in the U column. And so he wrote: “No doubt he’ll set up again if he hasn’t already and shaft some more tradespeople & suppliers. This makes me so frustrated. Is there really nothing that can be done?”


I assured him that something can be done, and will be. It starts here.


The U column began with the intention of being a gossip column, but I’m a journalist, not a blogger, and as you expect accuracy in what I write so I have to be accurate. I have to check detail, so what appears in the U column is fairly formal.


The U column is also predominantly about liquidation, though it wasn’t entirely so in the early days. I created the Nu column as a balance, but didn’t make time to feed it much information. Checking detail for the Nu column is even more time-consuming (& exhausting) than for the U column. Nevertheless, it’s a feature of the BD Central websites which is probably more valuable than the U column.


The intention of the Nu column is to present business going forward rather than backward – new businesses, and of course the relationships that give them context. As well as the positive, you will also see the warning signs – the creators of phoenix companies, for example.


That’s the first point arising in response to the email above – the Nu column will have regular input. This leads to a series of other points.


New Zealand operates pretty much on a “buyer beware” business basis. We’re quite an educated society, though our education might be totally irrelevant to our business requirements. We like to trade but lack many of the skills we need to do it better. Crucially, I think we also lack the supports that would make us start businesses better, run small & middle-sized businesses better, keep them from dying – and killing the businesses of those who trade with us – and, for those who want to start again after a business collapse, how to do that better too.


We have numerous organisations & a few businesses that do offer business support, but obviously from the high number of collapses of small firms we’re no good at taking advantage of these services. One answer could be to force people to take courses, to attend seminars. I don’t think that’s a real answer. Everybody knows you can sleep your way through a seminar which is earning you credits for an annual certificate.


I propose to pick up on these issues, probably on the Forward thinking website, outlining what is available, what isn’t being done and how more might be done to improve business performance.


I’m also open to contributions, suggestions, interview ideas & tips on this subject.


If you want to comment on this story, write to the BD Central Discussion forum or send an email to [email protected].

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