Private investment could hand the NRL a lifeline — but will profit-driven investors take the passion out of footy?


During this NRL season, the most conspicuous red smear has not been the blood wiped across the face of the prop who has copped a stray elbow. It’s been the sea of red ink covering the game’s ledger.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys has done a wonderful job keeping the competition running and, particularly, boosting the game’s morale in the most trying circumstances. But Pugnacious Pete is an inspiring wartime leader, not a human ATM.

The NRL expects to lose $150 million this season, most notably from the media-rights money lost when its deals with Nine and Fox Sports were renegotiated. Those losses extend into future seasons.

Meanwhile, competition leader Penrith revealed last month it would bleed $12 million in ticket sales and other projected revenue during a season that would normally fill the club’s coffers. Presumably, others have fared even worse.

The Penrith Panthers have had a brilliant year, but the lack of revenue means they are in a bad financial position.(AAP: Cameron Laird)

Like society itself, it has been possible for rugby league to suspend thoughts of the future and the long-term economic havoc the pandemic will cause.

Struggling clubs have continued to sack coaches and pay out their lavish contracts, perpetuating just one of the profligate practices that had left the game more vulnerable to a sudden change of fortunes than it should have been given its media-rights riches.

But now the season is coming to an end, the bills are hitting the in-trays and axes are being sharpened.

The NRL’s announcement on Monday it would sack 25 per cent of staff to save $50 million had been anticipated.

But it is no less brutal when the human cost is revealed.

So, when a report was tabled valuing the NRL at up to $3.1 billion — as reported in The Australian on Monday — you can imagine the eyes of NRL and club officials lit up like smokers after a long-haul flight.

Beyond the valuation, the details of a potential injection of private equity capital are scant. Most notably, there is so far no thought of what control the game would forfeit for the cash that would allow it to continue business (pretty much) as usual.

Private equity investment in sport has become more common as other sources of revenue have been ravaged by COVID-19 restrictions.

A striker makes heart sign with his fingers as he celebrates a goal in Italy's top football league.
Serie A is one of the top sporting leagues in the world — but it has had to consider shoring up revenue during the pandemic.(AP/La Presse: Massimo Paolone)

The Italian Serie A and the English Cricket Board are just two organisations to have recently considered a revenue source that has traditionally been out of bounds.

In Australian sport, the potential influence of private investors has usually been considered contrary to a peak sporting body’s traditional standing as a not-for-profit organisation acting in the best interests of the sport as a whole.

So when the ARLC or the administration of any other sport ponders selling a stake in its operations, a pressing question arises: Is the sport (or even the peak league) theirs to sell?

You might argue the NRL belongs to the fans who monetise the game through their viewing habits; the clubs who continue to pull the strings for better or worse, or even the now-more-empowered players who are paid a percentage of the game’s revenue rather than mere weekly wages.

But if the actual deed to rugby league is hard to locate, there remains that vague general belief rugby league is owned by and on behalf of its various stakeholders, including the grassroots clubs and participants at the foot of the game’s trickle-down economy.

So what happens when you introduce another cashed-up but far less passionately invested owner? One with a sharp eye on profit projections and not much concern about whether the Canterbury Bulldogs can get out of the cellar or the local juniors can put a junior team on the park?

An office worker talks on his phone as he looks the stock board at the Australian Securities Exchange
What would rugby league look like if the money to keep the game afloat came from private investment?(Reuters: Daniel Munoz)

What promises would need to be made about financial accountability and profitability by a game that has, by its own admission, run a billion-dollar business like a cash bar at a suburban club to get a hand on those investor billions?

Even after the redundancies at NRL headquarters, you can assume there will be more cutbacks across NRL clubs and the game itself. Grassroots programs will suffer, as will potential growth areas such as women’s rugby league.

The ARLC might contend this will allow it to present to investors a lean competition with a large component of its media-rights contract locked in, one with the capacity to grow significantly when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

But clubs that see private-equity cash as an immediate solution to their current financial plight should be wary.

The kind of investors with a spare billion or two will be far less sentimental than the local sponsors who pay over the odds to drink beer with club executives in corporate boxes and mingle with players in the sheds or at the annual dinner.

They certainly won’t have the same historical attachment to each of the nine remaining Sydney NRL clubs struggling to make ends meet in an intensely crowded sporting market.

You might argue the ARLC is desperately in need of the kind of bookkeeping accountability a major private investor would insist upon. That a billion-dollar game can’t prosper with its nickel-and-dime economy.

But before cashing private equity cheques, the ARLC and its stakeholders would do well to remember the next time potential belt-tightening measures including mergers and relocations are on the table, it would not just be the old club warlords and rugby-league-loving NRL administrators who are deciding the fate of the century-old game.



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Why it’s time for investors to go on defense


That’s what Howard Marks, co-chairman of Oaktree Capital, told CNNMoney editor-at-large Richard Quest on “Markets Now” on Wednesday.

“Defense is more important than offense” right now, said Marks, the author of “Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side.”

Investors should consider taking a stake in utilities, and decreasing their investments in more volatile tech stocks, he said.

Defense is the name of the game for a few reasons.

Though stocks have been soaring, Marks warned that we may be nearing the end of the bull cycle.

“I’m not saying get out,” he said. “I think that being out of the market is pretty dangerous today, and I think it would be a mistake to raise cash.” But more reliable stocks can protect investors from big losses if the climate changes.

Marks also pointed to the trade war with China as another reason for investors to tread carefully.

“We have a trade battle with China, it’s probably going to get solved, but it may go off the rails,” he said. “And if it goes off the rails, it has very serious consequences for the world economy.”

“Markets Now” streams live from the New York Stock Exchange every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. ET. Hosted by CNNMoney’s business correspondents, the 15-minute program features incisive commentary from experts.
You can watch “Markets Now” at CNNMoney.com/MarketsNow from your desk or on your phone or tablet. If you can’t catch the show live, check out highlights online and through the Markets Now newsletter, delivered to your inbox every afternoon.



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Using sustainability financial reporting to attract investors


Personal Finance

Using sustainability financial reporting to attract investors

 

Listed companies are required to publish annual audited financial reports and interim unaudited financial reports prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Investors rely on the financial reports to get a glimpse of the financial performance and fundamentals of the companies.

Generally, financial statements are voluminous and complex for most investors. In addition, most disclosures in the reports are often historical, quantitative and only depict the short- term performance of the company.

Gradually, issues of how companies impact the society they operate in- the environment, overall Environmental Social and Corporate Governance(ESG) structures- have increasingly become key for investors as they decide which companies to invest in. As much as financial performance is still very important, investors are turning to ESG frameworks that indicate long-term sustainability of businesses.

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed a real stress test to sustainability of businesses and the robustness of their operations. Business leaders have been forced to rethink and reimagine their vision of success, which was previously premised primarily on financial performance. Most listed companies, like other businesses, have been highly impacted by the pandemic. At the same time, investors, now more than ever are demanding information faithfully and accurately on the degree of impact of the pandemic on the listed companies’ business; the mitigation measures taken to ensure the ir sustainability as well as forecasts on operations of the business.

It should be appreciated that companies cannot predict, with precision, the effects of Covid-19 and that the actual impact largely depends on several factors beyond a their control and knowledge. However, investors have a right to this information as well as the sustainability fundamentals of those companies. Investors are now more informed and as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, there will be more scrutiny on the robustness, operational optimisation and sustainability of the business and operations of listed companies. Sustainability reporting would therefore be a vital tool for listed companies to bolster trust and confidence among investors and all stakeholders.

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Going forward, companies, listed or otherwise that seek to differentiate themselves and are keen to stay relevant must make a quick shift from just financial reporting to integrated reporting. Integrated reporting enables a company to tell its story of positive societal and environmental impacts and contributions; its intangible assets and competitive advantages tied to ESG matters and financial performance including profitability and returns to its shareholders and investors. Now is the time for businesses to prove to investors the “S” in ESG, and those that hope to stay relevant have no choice but to reconcile the business’ worth beyond just a balance sheet.

This holistic approach will come with its own share of challenges, top of them being the shift in mindset from the traditional financial reporting. There is an urgent need to transform the thinking around ESG matters and integrated reporting.

For companies to create long-term value that will sustain them during and after Covid-19, their boards must empower management and investor base to bridge the information gaps around ESG and integrated reporting. Companies must also continually monitor the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business performance and operations and provide accurate information in a proactive manner to investors and other stakeholders.



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Exclusive: India’s secondary listing plan for firms joining foreign markets irks investors, sources say


September 13, 2020

By Aditya Kalra, Aditi Shah and Abhirup Roy

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian companies that list overseas will have to later launch on a domestic bourse under policy changes being considered by government officials, sources told Reuters, a move that global investors fear will harm valuations.

India said in March it would allow local firms to directly list abroad to better access foreign capital for growth, but the rules have yet to be decided. Currently only certain types of securities such as depository receipts are able to be listed in foreign markets, and only after the companies go public in India.

The new policy, aimed at helping local firms achieve better valuations, could be a shot in the arm for Indian unicorn start-ups valued at over $1 billion and Reliance’s <RELI.NS> digital unit which is eyeing a U.S. listing after raising over $20 billion from global names like KKR & Co <KKR.N>.

But in recent weeks Indian officials told global investors and companies in meetings they were considering mandating a secondary listing for local companies on Indian bourses after they list abroad, five sources said.

The time period under consideration for such a requirement ranges from 6 months to 3 years, sources said.

A separate senior regulatory source in India said “dual listing was being considered by the (finance) ministry for sure,” but a final position on the matter has not been reached.

Japan’s SoftBank <9984.T> and an Indian payment firm it backs, Paytm, as well as Reliance and U.S.-based Sequoia Capital have conveyed to the government the secondary listing provision risks splitting trading volumes, hurting long-term valuations and raising compliance needs and costs, the sources added.

“To require companies to subsequently list in India will make these rules meaningless,” said a senior executive working at a global venture-capital firm.

SoftBank and Sequoia have invested in various Indian firms like ride-hailing company Ola and hospitality firm Oyo. Foreign listings could provide exits for such investors at higher valuations but also allow Indian firms, especially from the tech sector, to access specialised investors abroad who can better value their companies.

The rules are being drafted by the finance and corporate affairs ministries, in discussion with the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and will be finalised in coming weeks.

Spokespeople for SEBI and the two ministries did not respond to a request for comment. A SoftBank spokeswoman said “we never comment on confidential policy discussions”. Sequoia, Paytm and Reliance did not respond to requests for a comment.

GOING FOR GROWTH

Currently, Indian companies can list locally and then access foreign equity capital through instruments like American Depository Receipts (ADRs), a route used by India’s Infosys <INFY.NS> and ICICI Bank <ICBK.NS>.

India is concerned that the upcoming policy change will mean that companies hunting for higher valuations through access to a wider group of investors, would choose to only list abroad, the sources said. That risks hitting the growth ambitions of Indian capital markets and depriving local investors of the wealth-creation opportunity.

“The government needs to balance Indian aspirations so that (domestic) investors can invest in these companies,” said Siddarth Pai, Founding Partner at Indian investment firm 3one4 Capital. “This is a trailblazing endeavour, if India plays its cards right.”

India’s equity market has a capitalisation of $2 trillion, compared with $39.3 trillion for the United States.

Between January and June this year, companies raised $23.6 billion via 63 initial public offerings (IPOs) on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq <NDAQ.O>, compared with $2.3 billion raised on Mumbai’s stock exchanges through 18 listings, data from Refinitiv showed.

Lobbying group USIBC, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has this week been seeking feedback on the plan from members in an e-mail saying “the hope is” there will be no dual listing requirement.

A 2018 SEBI report listed 10 possible foreign markets for overseas listings, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Aditi Shah in New Delhi and Abhirup Roy in Mumbai; Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed in New Delhi, Patturaja Murugaboopathy in Bengaluru, and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)





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‘Dividendkeeper’: 17 leading companies receiving jobkeeper paid investors $250m in dividends | Business


Seventeen companies in the top 300 in Australia that received government subsidies paid out dividends to investors totalling more than $250m, according to new research by proxy firm Ownership Matters.

In a report sent to clients on Wednesday afternoon, Ownership Matters, which advises superannuation funds and other investors on corporate governance issues, also said 25 companies in the ASX300 index received jobkeeper support payments and then paid their executives bonuses totalling more than $24m.

The report comes amid attacks by Labor and investors on the practice, dubbed “dividendkeeper”, of using jobkeeper payments – which are supposed to support employment during the coronavirus crisis – to prop up dividend payments to shareholders.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh has also raised concerns over the bonuses paid out to executives at companies that have received government support.

Ownership Matters said that up until 30 June, ASX300 companies received a total of almost $1.8bn in government subsidies, of which at least half was jobkeeper.

The subsidies to some companies with overseas operations also included subsidies from foreign governments.

Qantas received the largest government subsidy of $525m, including $267m in jobkeeper, Ownership Matters said. It did not pay any dividends or bonuses.

“Casino operator Crown Resorts was the next largest recipient of JK [jobkeeper] at $111m, followed by Star Entertainment Group receiving $65m; both entities disclosed that a proportion of JK was paid to employees who continued to work,” it said.

Ownership Matters’ figures do not include department store Myer, which on Thursday announced it received $93.1m in jobkeeper, of which $41m went to pay casual or part-time staff, who are likely to have enjoyed a pay rise as a result.

Myer declared a loss of $172m for the year to 25 July, down from a modest profit of $24.5m the previous year.

Ownership Matters said 17 companies that received government subsidies paid dividends after 30 March, the date jobkeeper was announced and almost a month after the Australian government declared the Covid-19 outbreak was a pandemic.

Those included shoe retailer Accent Group, which received almost $25m in subsidies and paid shareholders more than $20m in dividends, and logistics group Qube, which took almost $20m in taxpayers’ money and paid dividends of more than $40m.

On executive bonuses, Ownership Matters said Star was also the biggest recipient of government subsidy to reward bosses with extra payments.

“The casino operator’s board elected to award bonuses as deferred equity to the disclosed executives at an average 40% of target ($1.39m across four executives including $830,000 for the CEO),” Ownership Matters said in its report.

“The cultural signal of a board deciding to pay – and a management team electing to receive – bonuses in a year where a listed entity received significant government subsidies is an important one for investors to consider, especially for listed entities with significant exposure to government as a regulator or customer.”

It said investors should be aware of the impact of jobkeeper and other subsidies on company accounts.

“Investors should also give consideration to the sustainability of results in cases where employees receiving JK continued to work and so wage expenses for non-stood-down employees were being directly subsidised,” it said.

“Similarly, judgement should be made about the potential impact of temporary reliefs such as rental deferment (or forgiveness) and lending concessions made in favour of ASX listed entities – major listed landlords had disclosed at least $658.5m in rent concessions to tenants in FY20.”



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This B.C. private equity fund quadrupled investors’ money coming out of the Great Recession


Article content continued

“When private equity managers are raising a new fund, past performance and continuity of the management team are critical inputs into the investment decision,” he said, adding that he “successfully” invested money through CAI Capital when he ran bcIMC, a global fund manager that invests on behalf of British Columbia’s public sector.

McVicar said the performance of CAI Capital’s 2008 fund reinforced the firm’s strategy of taking positions in businesses that serve regulated industries and governments.

“We really like businesses that have to exist,” she explained, pointing to an investment in Denver-based GeoStabilization International, a firm that shores up and repairs roads vulnerable to landslides, and another in the northeastern United States, Feeney Utility Service Group, that is responding to a 20-year backlog in services and equipment tied to natural gas distribution.

We really like businesses that have to exist

Tracey McVicar

In Canada, such investments include Corix Group, which designs, supplies, builds, installs, finances and operates local utility infrastructure on behalf of municipal, institutional, military, and private-sector customers.

With more recent funds, CAI Capital has invested in B.C.-based firms including Custom Air Conditioning, which does maintenance on commercial and institution building heating and cooling systems, and Universal Group, a provider of traffic management services to municipalities and utilities — a regulatory requirement in the province when a roadway is disrupted by construction.



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Reliance Future-proofs retail arm as it seeks to woo investors



FILE PHOTO: Shoppers in the chilled foods section of a Reliance Fresh supermarket in Mumbai, October 16, 2011. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA – Tags: BUSINESS)/File Photo

August 31, 2020

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Chandini Monnappa

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Reliance Industries’ $3.38 billion deal to acquire Future Group’s retail business pitches the conglomerate as an even more formidable force in India, making its retail arm more attractive to the potential investors it seeks to woo.

The oil-to-telecoms group controlled by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, announced late on Saturday that it will acquire Future Group’s retail and wholesale business as well as its logistics and warehousing operations.

The acquisition of Future Group’s 2,000 retail stores and Big Bazaar grocery chain will help Reliance, which sells everything from groceries to electronics through 11,000-plus stores, to broaden its extensive reach across the country.

But with Ambani set to sell stakes in Reliance Retail, the Future-Reliance deal makes it an even more attractive proposition for investors in a market that Boston Consulting Group expects to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2025.

“With this deal, Reliance’s dominance in the Indian market increases further and the valuation that Reliance Retail will now command will be even more,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy Technopak Advisors.

Reliance, which has raised a little more than $20 billion from global investors including Facebook Inc by selling stakes in its Jio Platforms digital business, has said it aims to attract investors in Reliance Retail over the next few quarters.

“We’ve received strong interest from strategic and financial investors in Reliance Retail,” Ambani told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in July.

The acquisition will also help Reliance to extend its lead over its competitors, Singhal added.

Mumbai-based Reliance is well known for its ability to win over customers with financial muscle and its breadth of offerings.

Shares in its rivals reflected as much on Monday.

Avenue Supermarts , which runs popular grocery chain DMart, fell as much as 5.4% while Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail closed 2.6% down and V-Mart Retail lost 4.4%.

JioMart, the new Reliance e-commerce venture that offers free express delivery from neighbourhood stores, will also gain a leg-up from the Future Group deal thanks to a wider wholesale supplier base.

JioMart delivers groceries, apparel and electronics in more than 200 cities, challenging established online retailers such as Amazon’s India unit and Walmart’s Flipkart.

“Reliance has essentially removed one competitor from the market and added Future’s loyal customer base to its own portfolio,” said Harminder Sahni, founder of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors.

“It’s a very serious challenge not just for Flipkart or Amazon, but for the likes of DMart, too.”

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal Chandini Monnappa; Additional reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by David Goodman)





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Indonesia hopes development of new capital will restart next year, investors still keen: Planning minister


JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes the development of its new capital will restart next year, the minister in-charge of national development planning said on Thursday (Aug 27).

The 466 trillion rupiah (US$32 billion) project was supposed to start this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put the relocation of Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to eastern Kalimantan on the back burner

However, National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa expressed optimism that the construction of the new capital would begin once COVID-19 is contained in Indonesia.

“I’ll describe it as the light at the end of a tunnel… When the light is brighter, the project will automatically resume. That’s what we are waiting for.

“Hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel will appear next year… then we will resume the new capital project,” Mr Monoarfo told CNA in an exclusive interview.

President Joko Widodo announced last year that the capital would move from heavily congested Jakarta to the underdeveloped districts of Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara in East Kalimantan province.

The plan to relocate the capital was considered necessary as megacity Jakarta, a city of 10 million people, has for years been battling with traffic congestion which costs US$7 billion in economic losses each year.

It is also one of fastest-sinking cities on Earth with experts predicting that it could submerge by 2050 if current rates continue.

READ: New Indonesian capital offers opportunities for development, but environmental pitfalls abound

Initially, the government planned to begin the construction of the new capital this year on a plot of 40,000 ha land and transfer the central administration by 2024. The government already owns about 180,000 ha of land in the area.

INVESTORS STILL INTERESTED IN THE NEW CAPITAL

Even though there is currently no construction work in progress, Mr Monoarfa explained that the master plan is still being worked on.

“The detailed plan will follow, then we will include basic infrastructure works in cities that will support the future capital of the country, for example, Balikpapan, Samarinda,” he said.

Oil city Balikpapan is about 80km east of Penajam Paser Utara, while Samarinda is the capital of East Kalimantan province. A highway has been constructed to connect both cities.  

Balikpapan Bay

Environmentalists are concerned that the capital’s relocation to East Kalimantan will harm the Balikpapan Bay and its coastal communities. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

The minister also revealed that investors are still interested in the new capital.

“There are still some investors, including domestic ones, who are still interested. And indeed they keep asking when it can start. 

“I think this is also important because, after COVID-19, the economic recovery will (focus on) investment destinations that promise high and fast capitalisation, one of them in Indonesia is the capital city project.” 

READ: New Indonesia capital – Land prices set to soar but not all locals thrilled

Mr Monoarfa welcomed other countries to invest, especially fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

“In my opinion, because later it (the new capital) will also be a symbol of friendship in ASEAN, why should there be no legacy from ASEAN countries contributing to this capital city?”



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South Australian scalefish industry to be ‘divided’ by new quota model as investors circle


Young operators in South Australia’s scalefish industry will be priced out of the game by investors if reforms go ahead as planned, industry representatives warn, with the commercial fishing sector to be “divided” by a quota proposal.

The State Government has released stage two of its $24.5 million Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF) reform package, announcing its long-waited formula to allocate individual transferable quotas (ITQs) to commercial fishing licences.

Those currently licensed to catch four priority species — King George whiting, snapper, southern garfish and southern calamari — would be entitled to a base quota distributed from 20 per cent of a zone’s total allowable commercial catch.

Allocations from the remaining 80 per cent would be calculated by an individual’s catch history prior to 2016.

Marine Fishers Association executive officer Gary Morgan said anybody who bought into the industry after 2016 was likely to get a small quota that “would not be commercially viable”.

“But if you’ve been in the industry for a long time, which many of the fishers have, they’re multigenerational fishing families, then they’re fine,” he said.

“You can shift that percentage between catch history and base, but it’s playing one off against the other.”

‘Running for cover’

West Coast Professional Fishers Association (WCPFA) president Jeff Schmucker said he represented “35-year-old guys” who had, in recent years, invested up to $250,000 in the industry by purchasing a four-wheel drive, a boat and a “$160,000 licence”.

Under this 20:80 formula, he said they had no “catch history” and would likely have to find another $150,000 to buy more quota and compete with investors.

Many fishers have invested significantly in boats and equipment.(Supplied: Anne Trebilcock)

For those who did have catch history, however, particularly on the West Coast where the average fishers’ age was between 55 and 60, the formula was effectively a “golden handshake” to exit the industry.

“They’re going to receive their quota and sell it, because it’s not about giving these guys quota so they can maintain their lifestyle and operation,” Mr Schmucker said.

“Things are getting more difficult for me as the association president because it’s coming down to ‘divided we fall’, and you’ve got everybody running for cover.”

Corporate trading warnings

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister, David Basham, said the latest information would enable fishers to “sit down with their families to discuss whether they should stay in the fishery and invest into the future, or whether now is the time to exit the industry and participate in the voluntary licence surrender program”.

He said the “historic” reform package was aimed at improving the long-term sustainability of fish stocks in SA, and “increasing the profitability of seafood businesses”.

But Mr Morgan said large players had already been buying up licences for much more than the State Government was offering through its $24.5 million buyback scheme.

He said a particular concern was the accumulation of quota by investors, rather than fishers.

“New Zealand went to a similar sort of system with their offshore trawl industry, and the value of the quota trading in that industry is now much greater than the actual value of the fish catch.”

Two King George whiting in hands of a man.
The transferable quotas effect King George whiting, snapper, southern calamari and southern garfish.(Supplied: Primary Industry SA)

Different models considered

Mr Basham said the Government was not “proposing to change the existing owner-operator provisions for this fishery”.

A government consultation paper released in August 2019 said it considered five different entitlement suggestions from the state’s fishing associations, including a WCPFA proposal.

Proposals included restricting all fishers with an equal and non-transferable catch cap, which could be increased through the purchase of another licence, and allocated weekly, or seasonably with regularly monitoring and adjustments.

Other proposals included variations on individual transferable effort units, which would be allocated on the number of boat days available to a licence holder to fish a priority species, taking stock of a fisher’s equipment and catch capacity.

The paper said an ITQ management system was chosen because it removed the “incentive to race to fish and effort creep”.

It cited a Productivity Commission report into the country’s marine fisheries, which recommended ITQ systems as the “default” management technique for commercial wild-caught fisheries across the country.

Warnings sent to industry

Mr Schmucker said that while there were “murmurings of reform” last decade, many people still bought into the industry believing an equitable system would be devised with input from industry associations.

“The Government decided quota was better a long time ago, and all they’ve done with us is tick a consultation box,” he said.

An Independent Allocation Advisory Panel said in its July 2020 report said there was been a “clear and unequivocal 2016 investment warning” sent to licence holders last decade.

It acknowledged that activity and investment in the MSF had continued and said some licence holders may have made investment choices in response to the warning.

Fishers can provide feedback on the reform package until September 18.



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Investors ride the Big Tech rally even as COVID cases and unemployment spike


Happy Friday, Bull Sheeters. Lousy U.S. labor data can’t stop Big Tech. The Nasdaq yesterday hit yet another record and FAAMG stocks helped the S&P eke out a gain. Momentum from the tech rally, and some promising vaccine news are pushing global equities and futures higher this morning.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major indexes are in the green, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng leading the way, up 1.3% in afternoon trade.
  • Jack Ma’s fintech powerhouse Ant Capital plans to file a dual-listed IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the coming weeks. There’s increasing speculation it could break a record for must funds ever raised as the firm seeks a $225 billion valuation.
  • Australia’s PM has backtracked on his earlier words to make a future COVID vaccine jab mandatory. Australia is yet another country dealing with a recent surge in cases.

Europe

  • The European bourses were climbing at the open with Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.4%.
  • On the vaccine news front: Pfizer and BioNTech SE say the U.S. and German trials of their jointly produced COVID vaccine is on track for regulatory review as early as October, a development that’s lifting stocks and futures this morning.
  • Europe could use a shot in the arm right now…. “We want to avoid closing borders again at any cost,” Germany’s Angela Merkel said yesterday as Europe’s coronavirus cases continue to spike, and officials across the Euro zone mull new measures to control the rate of infections.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are a tick higher as all three indexes closed higher on Thursday.
  • That’s despite a worse-than-expected reading on U.S. jobless claims yesterday morning before the bell.
  • Shares in Lyft and Uber took off after a California appeals court agreed they can operate as usual while challenging a judge’s order to comply with a state labor law on benefits for drivers.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is down slightly, below $1,950/ounce.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • Crude is in the red again, with Brent trading below $45/barrel.

By the Numbers

>1 million. Just last week we were cheering a weekly jobless claims number that came in below 1 million for the first time since March. Yesterday’s figure though climbed back above seven figures, far worse than economists’ estimates. The forecast was for 923,000. The markets—well, tech bulls, anyhow—shrugged off the disappointing number, sending all three indexes higher. But yesterday’s 1.1 million handle is bad news no matter how you look at it, signaling the labor market recovery will be gradual and choppy. And the IRS now projects that millions of these jobs will be lost for years.

23.4%. I continue to struggle to put into words the Tesla rally. So, let’s just stick with the numbers. Shares of the carmaker soared again in the past five trading days by more than 23%, or 380 points. Yesterday, it closed above $2,000 as investors bet the company will be added to the S&P 500; the five-for-one stock split is also driving up volumes. Tesla is up 378% YTD. If you’d bought 10 grand worth of TSLA on Jan. 2, your stake would be worth $47,853 today. This is today’s stock chart:

This is the chart I posted here precisely seven days ago:

***

Postscript

The news is quiet here in Amandola, which is probably what you want during a pandemic.

Yesterday morning, as I was wrapping up the newsletter, I got a bit distracted by some commotion on the street. A group of architects were surveying the nearby 15th-century convent, a sturdy structure my good friend Michael lovingly restored about 20 years ago.

Years ago, I helped Michael pour the concrete floors. And I grabbed a paintbrush every now and then; any excuse to restore a piece of history. Michael eventually turned the place into a spacious home, with a downstairs apartment for B&B renters and an artist studio for his real passion: painting and teaching courses to unlock our creative side. We used to sit around his stone fireplace, chatting about everything under the sun, wine flowing and Leonard Cohen playing somewhere in the background.

Michael called the place Sambuco—in Italian, elder flower, which runs wild on the hillsides here. In our little hilltop hamlet, Sambuco is the most historically significant structure. It predates the rest of the houses here—the road, the electric lines, the now ubiquitous wifi, too. Long before Michael came along, it was a kind of refuge or way station for pilgrims making the journey on foot to Rome. From here, the road to Rome involves crossing an arduous, but spectacular, mountain pass. Somebody named the crossing the gola del infernaccio (throat of hell), and the name stuck.

Under a shady oak on the hills behind Sambuco. The old pilgrim route headed straight up and over the mountains in the foreground. Original photo: Bernhard Warner.

Fast-forward to 2016. Michael had sold the place and moved to the coast a few years earlier. The timing was fortuitous. In August 2016, and then again in October of that year, two major earthquakes socked the region, leaving Sambuco and thousands of other historic dwellings uninhabitable.

The most recent owners, hailing from seismically stable England, gave up on the place. They’re literally selling it for a song, the architects told me yesterday.

Over the centuries, Sambuco has seen and survived all kinds of earth-shaking events: the odd pandemic, plague and seismic tremor. We imagine somebody will come and restore it again. Or at least, we hope.

Sambuco in the early morning light today. The place has been deemed uninhabitable since the August 2016 earthquake. Original photo: Bernhard Warner.

Things have been kinda stuck in neutral in these parts since the 2016 quakes. The coronavirus outbreak was just the latest setback, putting the larger re-build on hold. So we all greeted the architects’ arrival this week as a sign that things are finally starting to nudge back in the direction of normal.

In other words, it’s news.

Stop biting

I have a question to my dog-loving readers: How do you get a puppy to stop biting? Scilla, our Lagotto pup, is in that classic teething stage where she locks her teeth on anything she can. Usually my sandals. When I’m wearing them.

She’s pretty good with the girls. She won’t bite them. But she loves to nip at my ankles, even at 6 a.m. when only one of us is fully awake.

Can you recommend any good strategies to get the message across that she should stop biting the hand that feeds her?

And is it normal for a dog to so enthusiastically jump into the shower with you? Is that a water dog thing?

Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you here on Monday.

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.com

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