Question: Name all the globally known Australian brands.

Answer: Qantas and Fosters.

That’s right. There are only two. One is the result of John Elliot and his successors spending more than $2 billion of profits largegly generated by Victoria Bitter in Australia developing a global beer that is barely drunk by Australians these days.

And the other is the national carrier of a country which is a
highly popular tourist destination.

It took Stan Wallis and his committee which reviewed our
financial system to really bring the chickens home to roost on
the question of foreign ownership in Australia.

Included in the Wallis report was a table which showed that
foreign investors owned $450 billion worth of OUR assets yet
Australian companies only owned about $150 billion worth of
assets overseas.

Australia’s three fold deficit when it comes to foreign
investment is close to the most lopsided record of any large,
modern, western economy. Now Crikey is not about to advocate
foreign investment restrictions but it is very sad that our
companies have made relatively little headway overseas while the
foreigners have swooped time and again on our prime assets.

The following list is the first step Crikey is taking to raise
awareness of this problem of corporate Australia becoming a
branch office for the rest of the world.

We can barely come up with 40 Australian owned companies that
generate more than $200 million a year offshore yet there is more
than 120 foreign companies doing exactly that in Australia.

The lists are done in alphabetical order but there are a few
industries where we really have failed to develop our own


If we’ve got a national airline flying tourists to Australia
all the time, why don’t we have an international hotel management
or development company? We have hundreds of quality hotels but
the vast majority of them are run by companies such as US giants
Starwood and Marriott, French monolith Accor or the British
company Bass.

Alan Rydge has built a good chain of Australian hotels so if
you want to help an Australian company, buy shares in Amalgamated
Holdings and qualify for the shareholder discount when you stay
at Rydges.


Now if there was one industry where Australia should dominate
the world then surely it is mining. We have the richest mineral
deposits of any country but can anyone name a truly global
Australian mining house. Hugh Morgan and WMC are enjoying a share
price recovery but the majority of their value and profits is
tied up in their 40 per cent stake in the worldwide alumina and
bauxite joint venture with Alcoa of America. And this entire
operation is managed by Alcoa – WMC just enjoys the profitable
ride. BHP stuffed it with many of their overseas operations with
the exception of the Escondida copper mine in Chile where many
people argue the Poms at Rio Tinto tell them what to do anyway.
MIM might have doubled their share price in recent times but they
were once Australia’s second biggest company. Apart from smelting
operations on the Thames they haven’t got much left overseas
except for Alumbrera in Chile which is causing it and their
partner North Ltd all sorts of problems.

And with all this oil and gas around us, why don’t we have a
global Australian oil company. BHP leaves the operating of Bass
Strait to the world’s biggest oil company, Exxon-Mobil, and
foolishly sold out of North West Shelf operator Woodside at a
paultry $2.82 a share back in 1990. The stock is now at $14 and
controlled by British-Dutch giant Shell. Ampol Exploration was
the Arnotts of the oil industry but was snapped up in a $1.6
billion takeover by Mobil three years back.


Telecommunications is another area where we have failed to
make any sort of global impression. Telstra’s international
division is very small and our second biggest telco, Cable &
Wireless Optus, is controlled out of the UK, just like the third
mobile carrier Vodafone. Motorola snapped up a key stake in
emerging technology company ERG and MCI-Worldcom gobbled up
Ozemail for about $300 million two year ago. Now Telecom NZ is
gobbling up AAPT, our third biggest long distance player but at
least One.Tel has emerged as a serious player in the ISP market,
mobile and now the local call market.


Then we move along to Australia’s pathetic record in consumer
goods and food where we have not produced a single company with a
well known global product. The likes of Phillip Morris, which own
Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, the American personal products
giant, Unilever, which gives us Streets ice cream, Coca Cola
Amatil, Mars Corporation, Swiss dairy giant Nestle and the Idaho
spud farmer who bought Pacific Dunlop’s pastry brands such as
Four ‘N Twenty and Big Sister, are the biggest names in this roll
call of foreign invaders.

The best known Australian consumer goods companies are Goodman
Fielder and Pacific Dunlop and both are performing dreadfully at
the moment with the prospect of a foreign takeovers rising all
the time as their share prices drift further south.


One industry in which we have done okay overseas is financial
services, but even then our reach is limited. The New Zealand
banking industry is dominated by the major Australian players and
NAB has done well buying four regional banks in the UK and the
Homeside mortgage processing business in the US. National Mutual
saved itself from bankruptcy through its spectacular performance
in Hong Kong but then French insurance giant Axa swept in and
took control when they were still in a distressed state. AMP and
Colonial have both done reasonably well in the UK, although there
are some emerging problems for the AMP now. Westpac got seriously
burnt overseas when it almost went broke in 1992 and ANZ dropped
$500 million trading Russian bonds out of London over the past
two years.


The stand out Australian export industry in which we have
largely retained local ownership is wine. Although we still
haven’t built any true global giants, partly because the wine
industry is enormously fragmented around the world. The wine
export story – it now earns more than $1 billion a year on the
export market – is a great one and a model to all others. The
likes of Foster’s Brewing, BRL Hardy and Southcorp Wines have all
done tremendously well over the past five years and, whilst not
exactly rushing in, they are slowly buying some offshore
operations to complement the Australian exports.

The car industry is a good story in that we have an industry,
but wouldn’t it have been nice to have an Australian car company.
Afterall, the Italians have got Fiat, the French Peugeot, the
Swedes Volvo and the Koreans Daihatsu. We have all the raw
materials required to build cars so why did it have to be all
built on foreign capital that gets shipped offshore.


So who are our true national corporate heroes, the big players
who are making it internationally. We’ve clearly got the
management talent with Australians now running American giants
such as Ford, the Coca Cola Company, Phillip Morris and the
Campbell Soup company. We probably only have three genuine
corporate heroes, the most obvious being Rupert Murdoch, who has
built a $90 billion global media empire from one afternoon
newspaper in Adelaide. The second is Frank Lowy, who is now the
third biggest retail landlord in the world through his Westfield
group which is kicking serious butt in the US and dominates the
Australian shopping centre market. Thirdly there is Dick Pratt
who has a fabulous paper and packaging business in Australia
which he is increasinly taking to the US.

Lend Lease and Brambles are the next two standout performers,
both now generating about half of their profit offshore and
enjoying strong support on the share market. Having been cut
loose from ICI two years back, Orica is making a brave fist of
the global explosives market but it is a tough game and its
shares are not performing well.

Foster’s Brewing lost plenty in the UK and China, but is
trying to build an impressive wine club operation in Europe.
Pacific Dunlop’s Ansell business is a world leader but even that
can’t be that good with the stock now down at a miserable


In the exciting growth area of managing share registries we
now have Melbourne-based Computershare kicking some serious goals
with operations in Hong Kong, South Africa, the UK, Ireland and
the US.Isn’t strange how we are the greatest share owning
democracy in the world and also one of the most foreign owned
countries at the same time.


The construction industry is a mixed bag with Boral, CSR and
James Hardie all doing quite well in the US after some earlier
hiccups but Pioneer International has now been taken over by UK
giant Hanson Plc. Two German-controlled giant in Leighton
Holdings and Baulderstone Hornibrook are the leading players in
the Australian construction game. Transfield and the Grollo
brothers fly the Italian immigrant corporate flag in Australia
and have done a great job building their businesses. Lend Lease
is an unusual best because its CEO David Higgins is now based in
London and chairman designate Jill Kerr-Conway lives in the US.
Still, this Australian company has now emerged as a global player
in the property development and management business, partly
thanks to the recent acquisition of the Bovis construction group
from P&O.

So while we rule the world in sport, our performance on the
business front is very disappointing. The following lists
demonstrate this. Over time we are going to try and get the
specific revenue figures for each entry on the list so if anyone
knows figures for some of the companies please send them through
to [email protected]


AmcorUS, European, NZ, Asian paper
AMPNZ, UK and Chile
AGLNZ gas assets
ANZNZ and the Grindlays network
AmcorEuropean, NZ and US paper and packaging
BHPEscondida, Canadian diamonds, US copper etc
BoralUS bricks, tiles, flyash. Asia plasterboard
BramblesChep, records business etc
BRL Hardywine
Burns PhilpUS and European herbs, spices, yeast
Commonwealth BankNZ and limited Asian operations
ComputershareUK, HK and South African registry businesses
ColonialUK, NZ and Asian insurance operations.
CSRUS building products
FauldingUS pharmaceuticals
Foster’s BrewingChina, Molson and European wine clubs
Goodman FielderNth and Sth American food operations.
HIHNew Zealand and US insurance
Lend LeaseUK property, US property management, Asian development
Liberman familyproperty, banking
Macquarie BankAsian property development, global trading
Mayne NicklessIndonesian hospitals, UK express freight, US security
MIMAlumbrera mine in Argentina, UK smelting
News Corpglobal media
NABUK banking and Homeside in US
Normandy MiningGold mines and base metal assets
NorthCanadian iron ore, Alumbrera mine, Swedish base metals.
OricaWorldwide explosives business.
Pacific DunlopAnsell, batteries
PasmincoUS zinc
PBL/Packerchemical, publishing, gambling, film production,
Qantasairline business
QBEvarious insurance operations
Telstrainternational operations
VisyUS paper
Village Roadshowcinemas
WestfieldUS, NZ and Malaysian property development and management
WestpacNZ operations
WMCaluminium/bauxite operations


ABBSwiss, engineering, Redbank power station
ABN AmroDutch, investment banking and funds management
AccorFrench, Manages dozens of Australian hotels
AIGUS, Insurance
Air New ZealandNZ, 50% of Ansett
AlcoaUS, aluminium and bauxite joint venture with WMC
Anglo AmericaSouth African, bought Acacia
AOL-Time Warnerinternet, magazines, film production, theme parks
AxaFrench, 51% of National Mutual
Babcock & Brownbought AIDC
Bass GroupUK, various hotels
BATUK, tobacco
Baulderstone HornibrookGerman, construction
BillitonSouth African, QNI nickel business
Brierley InvestmentsNZ, retail, James Hardie and Wills
British AirwaysUK, stake in Qantas
British TelecomUK, various telco investments
Cable & WirelessUK, 51% of CW Optus
Cadbury SchweppesUK, confectionary and drinks
Campbell SoupUS, control of Arnotts
CanwestCanadian, controls Ten network
CargillUS, various agribusiness investments
Carter Holt HarveyUS/NZ, forestry
CEDUS, bought cable company Metal Manufactures
CGEAFrench, transport, water
Chase ManhattanUS, investment banking
ChevronUS, oil and gas
ChemcorUS, chemicals
CITICPortland aluminium smelter, beef
CitigroupUS, banking and financial services
CMSUS, 50% of Loy Yang A power station
Coca Cola CompanyUS, control of Coca Cola Amatil
CS First BostonSwiss-US, investment banking
Dairy FarmHK, Franklins
DBS LandSingapore, control Australand and Walker Corp
Deutsche BankGerman, investment banking
DresdnerGerman, banking
Du PontUS, chemicals and textiles
Duke EnergyUS, gas pipelines
Edison MissionUS, owns Loy Yang B power station
EDSUS, Commonwealth Bank IT contract
ErricsonSwedish, telecommunication products
Exxon-MobilUS, oil and gas
Fletcher ChallengeNZ, construction, forestry
FordUS, car manufacturing
General ElectricUS, card processing
General MotorsUS, car manufacturing
Glaxo-Wellcome/Smithkline BeechamUK, pharmaceuticals
GlencoreSwiss, various mining projects
GPUUS, Vic energy distribition
GrandaUK, Seven Network stake, production
Grand Hotel GroupMalaysian, various hotels
HansonUK, coal and bought Pioneer
HeinzUS, food, Weight Watchers
Hilton CorpUS, Jupiters casinos and various hotels
Hochtiefcontrol Leighton Holdings
HoechstGerman, chemicals, food
HomestakeUS, Kalgoorlie super pit
HSBCHong Kong, banking and broking
HuntsmanUS mormons, chemicals
HutchisonHK, telecommunications
IBMUS, computers, IT
Illinois Tool WorksUS, bidding for Siddons Ramset
ItochuJapanese, mining, energy and engineering
INGDutch, investment banking, insurance
KPNDutch, bought TNT
Kumugai GumiJapanese, hotels and property
Kwok familySingapore/HK, property
Li Ka ShingHong Kong, bought SA power industry
Lion NathanNZ, brewing
LVMHFrench, leather goods and drinks
Malaysia Mining CorpMalaysia, Ashton Mining, Plutonic
MarriottUS, hotels
MarsUS, chocolates pet food
MarubeniJapanese, aluminium and mining
MCI-WorldcomUS, telecommunications, Ozemail
Merrill LynchUS, stockbroking
Metro Cash & CarrySth African, controls Davids Holdings
MitsubishiJapanese, car manufacturing
MotorolaUS, stake in ERG, telecommunications
Mr CK OwSingapore, Stamford hotel chain
National ExpressUK, Vic public transport
National PowerUK, Vic power station
NestleSwiss, former PacDun assets and various other food
Norwich UnionUK, financial services
NufarmNZ, chemicals
ObayishiJapanese, tollroads
Ong Beng SengSingapore, hotels, retail
OrlandoFrench, wine
ParmalatItalian, dairy industry
PearsonUK, Grundy TV production, financial information.
Philip MorrisUS, food and tobacco
Placer DomeUS, gold mining operations
P&OUK, stevedoring, ports, cold storage, resorts.
Principal GroupUS, BT funds management
PowerGenUK, Vic power assets
Rio TintoUK, Comalco control and various mining assets
RothmansSouth African, tobacco
Royal-Sun AllianceUK, insurance
Salomon Smith BarneyUS, investment banking
San MiguelPhillipines, beverages (20% of Coca Cola Amatil)
SBCSwiss, investment banking
Service Corp InternationalUS, death industry
ShellDutch-UK, oil, coal and gas
Singapore GovtSingapore, telecommunications, energy
SpudmanUS, bought PacDun pastry businesses
SonyJapanese, music, electricals
StarwoodUS, hotels
Telecom NZNZ, AAPT
Texas UtilitiesUS, Vic gas and electricity assets
Thakral familySingapore/HK, hotel chain
Thames WaterUK, water
Toronto DominionCanadian, discount broking and banking
ToyotaJapanese, car manufacturing
UnileverDutch-UK, detergents and ice cream
UnitedGlobalComUS, control of pay-TV group Austar
VivendiFrench, Victorian public transport, publishing, water
VodafoneUK, mobile phone business