Janeta in the Oz

In the Australian today, Janet Albrechtsen writes another good one about the issue du jour, unions, through industry funds, using their relationship to try to leverage companies in which they have shareholdings to do all sorts of “interesting” things.  This includes trying to achieve industrial outcomes.

Forget the grandstanding, just look after us shareholders

So writes Janet:

Meanwhile, our superannuation nest eggs seem to be fast ­becoming a plaything for activists and hangers-on to indulge political and financial fantasies.

Of course she is right, but this is not new.  It happens all the time.  Consider the regular habit of both Labor and Liberal government to dip into other peoples funds to … “indulge political and financial fantasies”, you know like NBN or Snowy 2.0 or very fast (and unnecessary) trains.

Consider also the whole saga of the ASX Corporate Governance Council (another Costello and Howard gift that keeps on giving), which to many activists chagrin, decided to leave out the concept of a social licence to operate.  But neatly left in “reputation” and “standing in the community”.

Like a cancer, these people won’t be satisfied until they and the host that gives them life are dead.

Nassim Taleb has a wonderful line:

Don’t tell me what you “think” show me your portfolio.

It would be very interesting to see how many industry fund directors and their families actually have their superannuation, entire superannuation, invested in the funds they are on the boards of.  What’s the bet that someone has a self managed super account somewhere.

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5 Responses to Janeta in the Oz

  1. Jock

    There is a piece in the Oz about HSBC being under pressure to ditch funding of coal in: ” Investors call on HSBC to restrict financing of coal in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia”. So now the shits are after even finance of coal in developing nations. The perpetrators:

    SCHRODERS, HERMES and EDEN TREE.

  2. TBH

    I’m glad someone is saying it. I read an article in the Fin Review today about how the industry funds are gearing up (at the behest of the ALP and unions of course) to pressure publicly listed companies on issues not related to shareholder return. Apparently the delisting of said companies is at its highest level in a decade. Who could be surprised at that, given all this claptrap about “social license to operate” and “ensuring all stakeholders views are taken into account”. No, the only stakeholders that are relevant are shareholders and the corporate regulators, to ensure that no illegal activity is taking place. Other than that, if I have a moral objection to a business I won’t invest in them.

  3. TBH

    I might also add that Heather Ridout and Jennifer Westacott were on opposite sides of this debate. Ridout in particular disappoints me. She did nothing as head of the AIG to defend Australian businesses from this kind of political pressure and has actually taken the other side now that she’s a director of Australian Super. Jennifer Westacott isn’t much better but at least she made the argument that the industry super funds should mostly mind their own business.

  4. JohnL

    I might also add that Heather Ridout and Jennifer Westacott…

    I believe that Heather Ridout and Jennifer Westacott are women (females). Maybe that they were put in their position as a “gender quota” requirements (can anyone suggest a better reason?) Just imagine what damage could be done to this country if all parliaments were stuffed up with the gender quota women (females)!

  5. John A

    It would be very interesting to see how many industry fund directors and their families actually have their superannuation, entire superannuation, invested in the funds they are on the boards of.

    Logically impossible because “conflict of interest”!

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