Australia has one of the most globalised western economies in
the world but have the stampede of foreign investors actually made a
quid Down Under. We say there are more sad than happy players but keep your contributions coming to smayne

Why the hell did we invest in Australia?

Sold CitiPower to Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Hong Kong Electric
Holdings for $1.53 billion in July 2002, booking a $US125 million loss
mainly because the Australian dollar was so low at the time.

AES: US giant utility has dropped more than $100 million on Victorian energy assets.

Aqua Del Ray: Japanese company based in Kobe that ploughed $250
million into the Laguna Quays resort in the Whitsundays and then sold
it to Village Roadshow for $23 million. The ANZ also took a huge bath.

Arco: US miners dropped a fortune on the Gordonstone coal mine after enormous union problems.

Asahi Breweries: Japanese
brewer bought 20 per cent of Foster’s off John Elliott and lost a few
hundred million when it almost went broke in the early 1990s.

Air New Zealand: dropped $1.3 billion buying Ansett

Barclays Bank: Got burnt in the 1980s and went down badly again recently in a WA nickel project run by Preston Resources.

Baulderstone Hornibrook:
the German construction giant has scaled back its Australian operation
after failing to make enough money under Nick Greiner’s leadership over
the past few years.

Brierley Investments: despite
sucesses with investments like James Hardie and WD & HO Wills, the
losses in electrical retailer Vox and Ansett (through Air New Zealand)
make Australia a net negative experience for the Kiwi corporate

BTR PLC: paid way too much for the minorities of the Alan Jackson-created BTR Nylex.

Burger King: the court order to pay Jack Cowin $65 million makes Australia an unhappy venture for the Texan-owned burger giants.

Charles Schwab: the biggest online US broker dropped plenty in their aborted online broking joint venture with Packer’s ecorp.

Chase Manhattan:
dropped an absolute bundle in Joe Gutnick’s Centaur Mining and also got
burnt by Skase to the tune of $120 million with the Chase-AMP joint
venture in the 1980s.

Cogema: French yellow cake
giants dropped at least $50 million on buying into the Koongarra
uranium project in Kakadu in the hope that John Howard would allow it
to proceed. No chance after the traditional owners knocked that on the
head in 2000. Also virtually no return from any of its other Aussie
uranium or gold assets after 30 years of trying.

CMS: US utility wrote off $500 million of equity invested in Loy Yang Power from the Kennett Government.

the French company is well under water on its Victorian public
transport investments although has now expanded and extracted big price
rises so might start clawing it back.

Consolidated Natural Gas: The
American power giant was part of a consortium which paid a ridiculous
$2.47 billion for the Dampier-to-Bunbury natural gas pipeline.

Continental Airlines: Flooded by route allocations and
landing slots in favor of Qantas (just before its public sale – how
convenient). Loss of about $250 million over 3 years of final

Daikyo: the Japanese property giant spent way to much
developing things like Green Island off Cairns, the Gold Coast
International hotel and Palm Meadows resort.

Daimaru: the Japanese retailer dropped more than $200 million on their upmarket retail stores.

Dairy Farm International: the Hong Kong-based company dropped a packet in Franklins.

De Beers: the
South African cartel spent $300 million on diamond exploration in WA
over 20 years and never found a cracker. Were rumoured to have gone
over the Argyle ground but missed it.

Dimension Data:
This South African company spent about $300 million buying Datacraft
and Comtech but in 2002 axed more than 100 staff and must regret their
Australian dalliance in light of the tech-telco crash.

Dominion Resources: El Paso’s Yankee partner in gas pipeline giant Epic energy which have dropped close to $500 million.

Durban Roodepoort Deep:
The South African gold miner lost $34 million on the takeover of
Hargraves Resources after its Browns Creek mine in NSW flooded a few
months after DRD took charge. Also copped plenty of flak during the $50
million takeover of Dome Resources when it dropped a pallet of cyanide
pellets from a helicopter into the PNG jungle. Then launched a $105 million bid
for Fijian-based Emperor Mines, but with the gold price booming things have picked up a little.

EIE: dropped hundreds of millions in the Queensland 1980s property crash.

El Paso: the largest shareholder in gas pipeline giant Epic, this Texan energy giant has dropped close to $500 million.

Entergy: US utilily which lost plenty on CitiPower, largely thanks to the currency.

Exodus Communications Inc:
Tried to get fair interconnect and peering with Telstra. Result: $140
million data centre in North Ryde Sydney now worthless because of the
closed shop in telco interconnect in Australia. They were conned by the
Federal Govt into believing things were fair.

Fluor Daniel: was sued for $400 million by Anaconda so Australia has not been happy for the US engineering giant.

Gateway Computers: the US computer manufacturer pulled out of Australian and dozens of other countries in 2002 due to inadequate returns.

Global Crossing Inc: Same as Exodus, prohibitive cross connect and half-circuit, loss of about $130 million.

the American utility booked a $450 million loss when it sold its
Victorian electricity transmission business, PowerNet, to Singapore

HSBC: dropped plenty in Bond and other 80s entrepreneurs.

Investec: The London-listed South African investment bank is
growing by organic expansion, but also bought Wentworth Associates,
which bought them David Gonski as chairman along with all his contacts.
Have dropped a bit on unhappy investments such as Miller’s Retail and

Ivanhoe Mines: wrote off $100 million on a Tassie iron ore project in 2002.

Hutchison Telecommunications: have ploughed well over $1 billion into Australia and seen little return from the mobile business so far.

the Japanese industrial giant dropped plenty in the PowerGen consortium
that bought the Yallourn power station but generates good returns
selling mining equipment.

Kumugai Gumi: whacked by the property market in projects like Melbourne Central.

Lemvest: Dropped close to $200 million on failed pay-TV company Australis Media.

Lucent: destroyed almost $1 billion trying to finance and build’s 3G mobile network.

MCI Worldcom:
paid an excessive $530 million to Sean Kennedy, Malcolm Turnbull,
Trevor Kennedy and friends which contributed in a small way to the
company collapsing in 2002. Ozemail was sold to iinet for about $100 million in 2005.

Merill Lynch: Bought McIntosh Securities for $120 million but now largely exiting Australian broking and lost $85 million in 2001.

Mitsubishi: despite regular government bailouts the Australian operation is still marginal and one Adelaide plant is now being closed.

National Express Group:
British company that won rights to run half Melbourne’s trains and
trams, lost money and then pulled out with a loss of more than $300

National Power: Paid a ridiculous $2.3 billion for the 30-year old Hazelwood Power station.

News Corporation:
Whilst Australia got Rupert going, the recent performance has been
lamentable with, Foxtel and Super League costing $1.6 billion
alone so far. However, newspapers are providing good returns and the original HWT takeover was a ripper.

Nissan: Could never turn a dollar in the car business and shut down manufacturing in 1992 in an exit that cost $1 billion.

Nissho Iwai:
the Japanese company was the happy owner of the Cable Sands mineral
sands operation in WA until recently when it was put into Bemax in the
three-way deal with Sons of Gwalia, which collapsed in 2005.

NRG: 25 per cent of Loy Yang Power has all disappeared for this Chicago-based company.

Ong Beng Seng: The Singaporean tycoon tried to save Brashs but only succeeded in losing almost $100 million.

PacifiCorp: The
US company contributed to a ridiculous $2.3 billion bid for the 30-year
old Hazelwood Power station in the Latrobe Valley and also paid an
excessive $2.15 billion for one of the Victorian electricity
distributors so overall it regretted the experience Down Under.

Parmalat: the Italians paid way too much for Pauls/QUF a few years back and have also been clobbered by the currency.

Pegasus Gold: These big-noting yanks wrote off $500 million on the much-hyped Mt Todd gold mine near Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Pepsi: Australia is one of Pepsi’s worst market share stories and the Pizza strategy also failed.

Pick ‘n Pay: The South African grocery giant, on its second
tilt in the Aussie market, appears to be faring better with its
Franklins stores.

PowerGen: Paid way over the top for Victoria’s Yallourn power station and was crippled by a long strike.

Primus Telecommunications:
same deal as Exodus and being lied to about real competition in the
local loop and basically conned into investing only to become a mere
re-seller, not the true carrier they hoped. Loss of about $80 million.

Principal: US funds management company took a $400 million write off on its Bankers Trust investment in 2002.

Royal Bank of Canada: Came
into Australia in the 80s but lost more than $100m lending to dodgy
entrepreneurs like Skase and Bond. Also dropped heaps on 25 per cent
stake in controversial broker Hartley Poynton.

Simplot: paid too much to Pacific Dunlop for the pastry/potato based operation and lost heaps.

Singtel: paid $14 billion for Optus when was probably worth about half that.

Singapore Airlines: lost more than $300 million in Air New Zealand thanks to Ansett debacle.

Standard Chartered:
UK Bank, lost well over $100 million in Australia in the late 80s on
loans to all sorts of shocks, and is now a small rep office in Sydney

Telecom New Zealand: paid way over the odds for AAPT and two write-offs totalling $1.3 billion.

Thales (was Thompson) of France:
paid about twice what it was worth to buy half of ADI from the
Government. They also had to sub part of their partner’s (Transfield’s)
stake. Apart from the ammunition business ADI isn’t making money.
Overall a net loser.

Thyssen: Paid far too much
for Byrnecut, once a darling of the mining contractors, and also lost
the lot through Colrock, courtesy of Harry Adams’ Gympie Gold.

Tower Life: the Kiwi insurance and funds management
company hit trouble recently and its Australian operations certainly
didn’t help, although things are now starting to turn around.

Truworths: Sportsgirl was an absolute disaster for the South Africans.

United Global Communications:
The Denver based media giant is sinking under a mountain of debt, about
$500 million of which can be blamed on the embattled pay-TV outfit

US West: dropped about $500 million on Optus Vision.

Utilicorp: Bought Victorian electricity and gas followed by WA gas but sold out to Alinta, AMP and Macquarie for about $1 billion in 2003

Vienna Alpine: just gave BHP-Billiton $60 million settling blow-outs on the construction of the giant HBI plant in Pt Hedland.

Walter Construction Group: German outfit that made a fortune
from ELGAS at Botany, the public at M5 and the Music Conservatory, but
then collapsed in February 2005, largely due to its parent’s woes

Woolworths: The South African company is still battling to
turn around Country Road, and is constantly bothered by minority
shareholder Solomon Lew and his attack dog Michael Kroger.

We love making truckloads in Australia

As for happy foreign investors, we’ve come up with quite a few so far:

Apache Energy:
the US company controls the Harriet joint venture on the North West
Shelf, which operates a string of profitable oil fields all processing
through the Varanus Island production hub.

Like Mercer they are heavily and profitably involved in the delivery of
services for the Superannuation industry and also insurance products.
Owned by AON from the US.

Alcoa: has made billions out of aluminium and bauxite.

Anglo American: appeared
to pay a premium for the Shell Coal assets, but has since been proven
right given the state of the dollar and high coal prices.

American Express: despite
falling market share they’ve made good money in Australia and made
Sydney a regional headquarters after Bob Carr offered big incentives.
They stand to gain from the RBA’s assault on Visa.

Australasian Correctional Management:
Runs 3 of the 7 Australian privately run “correctional facilities”.
Government contracts pay well and on time. Owned by Wackenhut
Corporation of the US, the largest supplier of security services in
that country.

Bank of Scotland: doubled their money with a controlling stake in Bankwest.

Bankers Trust: created $2 billion in value before selling to Principal.

Billiton: made billions by negotiating a favourate merger with BHP that sent its share price soaring.

British Airways: bought its 25 per cent of Qaqntas at $2.60 a share and now worth $4.60.

British America Tobacco:
bought out the minorities last year for a hefty $17 a share but despite
looming legal liabilities have had a happy time in Australia,
especially since they became a duopoly with Phillip Morris.

Conrad Black: Picked up 25 per cent of Fairfax at an average of $1.50 a share and sold to Brierley for almost $3 so he’s one happy chap.

Cable & Wireless: sold
out of Optus for $14 billion but took a lot of plummeting Singtel scrip
so the profit wasn’t nearly what it might have been for the Poms.

Cadbury Schweppes: bought back the Australian arm 12 years ago and are making plenty in the drink and sweets markets.

Canwest: probably the most successful foreign investor having turned $50 million into about $2 billion through Channel 10.

Chicago Freight Car Leasing: happy enough with their investments in the rapidly changing Australian railway scene.

Clear Channel: brutally efficient US radio operator has made plenty from its radio joint venture with APN.

Coca Cola Company:
They dumped a $1 billion loss in the Phillipines on the Australian
offshoot and make large profits from about $1 billlion a year in
related party transactions. While CCA has slumped in recent years, Coke
still blitzes Pepsi in the Australian market but have missed the boat a
little on energy drinks.

Daimler Benz: the Germans were wise enough not manufacture here but do well on their imported sales.

Deutsche Bank:
didn’t lose too much in the 80s and bought Bain for a good price before
building investment banking and funds management into a successful

Duke Energy: Bought the Port Hedland and Newman
power stations in WA from BHP in 1998. In 2004 Alinta paid $1.69
billion for Duke Energy’s gas pipeline and power plants in Australia
and New Zealand.

Energy Initiatives: the US company bought a 50 per
cent equity stake in Victorian electricity distributor Solaris for $219
million in 1995 and sold out two years later to partner AGL booking a
58 per cent profit.

Esso: the most profitable foreign investor thanks to Bass Strait oil and gas.

GE Capital: Recent
$1.6 billion AGC buy makes them an absolute giant in Aussie finance and
they are making big bucks from businesses like the Coles Myer credit
card business.

General and Cologne Re: One of the
big players in the re-insurance market. Owned by Berkshire Hathaway (of
Buffet fame), so if it wasn’t making money I doubt it would still be
here. This company helped Mr Adler out of a few scrapes around balance

General Motors: the most profitable of the car manufacturers and turning a good quid.

Genessee Wyoming: bought Australia Southern, Australia Western and Australia Northern Railways a few years back and turning a good dollar on it.

the Swiss trading house dropped about $600 million on the Murrin Murrin
laterite nickel mine in WA but more than made it back with the profits its 40% owned Xstrata has made out of MIM.

Goldfields: the South Africa made good money, initially at least, out of WMC’s St Ives gold mining operation.

Harmony: Bought into Bendigo Gold for a pittance and is now looking very handsome as the gold price stays high.

these Germans control Australia’s largest construction company Leighton
and have made excellent profits for many years under Wal King’s

IBM: Despite massively overpaying for
their rental deal on the Southgate tower in Melbourne they’ve made good
money in Australia in recent years.

ICI: timed
their profitable exit from Australia perfectly 6 years ago at the lofty
price of about $11 when the dollar was also strong.

Independent Newspapers: Tony O’Reilly’s Irish media giant owns radio and lots of profitable regional newspapers.

ING: banking and funds management giant that bought Mercantile Mutual and just sold its half shares to QBE for $740 million.

Kelloggs: a boring but successful story in Australia.

Kimberly Clark:
Huggies nappies kick butt so much that they’ve made hundreds of
millions in their Amcor joint venture which was would up last year as
the Australian partner sold out for a huge profit.

Kodak Eastman: did well under Ziggy Switkowski and have excellent market share lead over Fuji.

Lion Nathan:
buying Bondy’s brewing assets eventually enabled founder Dougie Myers
to sell out to Japanese brewer Kirin for a good price and now the beer
duopoly is doing so well that Kirin are also well in front.

absolutely dominates the pet foot market and the confectionary profits
are also good so they are one of the happiest foreign investors with
Forrest Mars gloating that he’s been here 75 times.

Mazda: turn over about $600 million a year from imports but wise not to manufacture here.

Mercer Investment Consulting:
Purveyor of highly profitable consulting actuaries for the investment
industry. Mercer tends to specialise in superannuation and human
resources. Owned by the US giant Marsh & Mclennan.

Metro Cash and Carry: struggled with Davids early but is now coming good with Woolies pulling out of the wholesaler market.

Mission Energy:
bought 49 per cent of the Loy Yang B power station from The Kennett
government in 1992 for $1.3 billion with an over-priced long term
supply contract then took the rest in a renegotiation in 1997 that left
them still well in front.

Mitsui and Mitsubishi:
together they form the MIMI or Japan Australia LNG joint venture which
has a highly profitable one-sixth stake in the North West Shelf.

Mitsui: have also lovely profits out of coal and iron ore.

the Coal and Allied acquisition has been a ripper for this Japanese
company although the car operations have been more troubled.

Microsoft: Bill Gates makes money everywhere.

Nestle: bought well off Pacific Dunlop and are making plenty from all their dairy products.

Were smart enough never to manufacture here and our love of all things
American means Australia has been a happy hunting ground.

Norwich Union: made $89 billion profit this year from Australian and have done very well with Navigator Mastertrust.

the bankrupt British cable company bought the ABC and SBS transmission
towers for $650 million a few years back and then sold them to Macqurie
Bank for $850 million a few weeks ago.

Pernod Ricard: French giant owns Orlando Wyndham which has Jacobs Creek as flagship.

Philip Morris: made plenty over 40 years from food and ciggies.

Placer Dome Group: World’s
fifth largest gold mining company, also based in Canada. Acquired
Aurion Gold Ltd of Australia, adding 1 million ounces of gold
production annually.

Proctor & Gamble: another boring but successful story for one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world.

RAG : German company that picked up prime Queensland coal assets for a song, and is now making a packet.

Rail America: bought Freight Australia and are travelling very well with it.

Rothschild: sold booming funds management business to Westpac for a big price in 2002.

Royal Bank of Scotland: Profitable investor in Computershare.

Royal & Sun Alliance:
took a big profit when floating Promina last year but the new investors
have enjoyed additional huge profits as the troubled British insurance
giant left plenty on the table.

Rio Tinto: invested another $7 billion in over the past four years and made billions from CRA.

Service Corporation International Australia:
Biggest player in the Australian funeral market. Was owned by Service
Corporation International of the US (one of the biggest service
providers in the US) but sold 80% to a consortium led by Macquarie Bank
in 2001.

Shell: making about $1 billion a year at the moment from oil and gas despite losses on downstream operation.

Showboat: mad big bickies on the Sydney Casino licence by selling Star City to Tabcorp.

Sony: Australians are big spending gadget lovers so Sony does very well here.

Texas Instruments: dominate the school calculator market.

Texas Utilities: the $5.1 billion sale of its Australian energy assets to Singapore Power gave it a $500 million book profit.

Toyota: the most successful of the car manufacturers over the years.

Tyco: the largest foreign employer in Australia with 15,000 staff who dominate parts of the building and construction industry.

UBS Warburg:
now a powerhouse that turns over more almost $1 billion a year in
Australia and makes big dollars out of lucrative clients such as AMP.

Unilever: another fast moving consumer goods outfit that loves our consumer society.

partially floated United Energy with AMP, raising $390 million and
confirming a 20 per cent plus profit on their initial $1.553 billion
purchase in 1996, then quit all its Australian investments profitably
for $980 million (after debt) in 2003.

Virgin: Ansett’s loss has been Virgin’s gain in the airline game and Branson was $1 billion in front after the float.

Visa International:
Have been ripping off customers massively on behalf of their member
banks and love the fact that Australians are mad consumers who’ve gone
debt crazy.

Vodafone: the British telecommunications giant may have taken 11 years to turn a profit in Australia, but it is looking good.

Another company making a fortune from Australian coal and base metals
after the MIM takeover but it drop a hefty $180 million on the
Windimurra vanadium project in WA.

Jury still out

Aldi: German-owned budget supermarket chain.

Goldman Sachs: Who bought JB Were, but will probably a long-term win.

UK Daily Mail Group (DMG): Paid millions to secure FM commercial radio licences in most Australian capital cities. Nova FM doing well with ratings.

Keep the corrections and additions coming to smayne