08/11/2005 - 21:00

Faster news now online at WABN

08/11/2005 - 21:00

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SINCE the day I joined WA Business News I have been asked constantly, ‘when are you going daily’? The reply to that has been consistent. We are never going to do that, at least not as a newspaper.

Faster news now online at WABN

Faster news now online at WABN

SINCE the day I joined WA Business News I have been asked constantly, ‘when are you going daily’?

The reply to that has been consistent. We are never going to do that, at least not as a newspaper.

However, the growth of the Internet and email has changed the publishing landscape in the intervening years and allowed us to consider becoming a more immediate form of news provider than just having a weekly format.

After much research and development, it is my pleasure to tell our readers that we intend to launch a daily email service next week, offering an electronically-delivered snapshot of the news that has unfolded during the day.

To give the news we write its true currency, it will be posted on our revamped website as and when the stories are filed by our journalists. The best of the day’s content will then be incorporated into an email and sent, for free, to the inboxes of those who have previously sought our email correspondence.

I believe this service will provide both a real-time news source for those who plan to watch our site and a timely overview of the day’s business, delivered after lunch to provide coverage of most of the major business news of importance to Western Australians for that day.

This style of news is an exciting challenge for us.

The forces that shape a weekly newspaper are different from those that drive a daily email news service, however our newsroom expertise is more than adequate to cope with this change.

There are decades of experience in the reporting of WA business news among our editorial team, with many often frustrated by the difficulties of offering breaking news coverage of major events in a weekly paper.

Having been involved in live testing of the service for the past couple of weeks, it is amazing to see how much of the news we read in daily newspapers is derived straight from announcements made by companies, governments and various organisations of all persuasions.

We aim to give you that news during the day, culminating in an afternoon email, allowing our newspaper (and others), the oppor-tunity to do what newspapers do best – provide some insight, background and research into the issues.

Should you or someone you know wish to receive our new email, please subscribe at www.wabusinessnews.com.au/dailyenews/ and we’ll send you our email from the day we start.

Up in arms over the new activism

OUR story on several leading executives taking issue with the new activism of institutional investors reflects a fascinating change in the corporate scene – driven by both regulation and the markets.

Institutions have been emboldened to challenge management and boards of the companies they invest in, driven by a new atmosphere of accountability.

New corporate governance standards have gone some way to raising the benchmark, underlining investor concern about what company management may be doing with their money. In some ways, institutions are directly affected by this, in other ways they are simply watching their backs, concerned about what their own investors will think if they invest in a failure.

That may sound wise practice but it is hardly entrepreneurial. In some ways, institutions are increasingly like box-ticking banks rather than investors who necessarily understand the management they have put their money with.

This is a big change in thinking from a sector that represents the majority of equity investment and whose coffers are fuelled by a never-ending flow of money legislated by superannuation laws that favour fund managers.

But this power is being balanced by other changes.

Companies used to recognise the power of these silent investors. Before disclosure rules were tightened, they offered special institutional briefings and rarely, if ever, complained in public about the way these investors behaved. In retail parlance, they were the major suppliers and they needed to be assuaged.

There was always concern that the investment tap could be turned off, however.

Times, though, are a-changing. Companies are increasingly like their own employees – they have options.

I realised this last year when I interviewed Alinta’s Bob Browning about institutional rejection of his remuneration package. He was surprisingly frank in his response and the anger showed. He was making his investors money, so he said he’d be more careful who he chose in the future.

A year and a half later, the equities boom is even stronger, especially in commodities, and successful companies know they have access to many forms of capital as all investors, not just institutions, seek to outperform the market benchmarks.

That flow of super money may seem endless, but there is jostling among the institutions to keep ahead of the pack. They recognise that financial advisers are under much more pressure to show value for their advice and individual investors are watching fund performances more closely than ever.

Alternatively, individuals’ access to the stock market is much easier than ever. Online trading and more information makes them far more independent and critical.

Strongly performing companies know this and find ways to keep in direct touch with them.

It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, ultimately gains the upper hand.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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