As Malcolm Turnbull contemplates the reality of losing his seat in the forthcoming Labor landslide, he should take some solace from the performance of his investment portfolio.
Malcolm’s largest stake in a listed company suterged above $20 million today after Melbourne IT delivered an upbeat message at yesterday’s AGM in Melbourne.
Melbourne IT shares rose 7c to a record $3.90 this morning, meaning that is has today joined the small but finally growing club of IT or internet companies that are capitalised at more than $300 million.
Other members include Seek, Iress Technology, SMS Management, DWS Advanced Business Solutions, Oakton Computing and MYOB.
Last year’s takeover of Webcentral has gone well financially, although Melbourne IT CEO Theo Hnarakis, a former News Ltd executive, had to make some tough decisions during his 100 day implementation surge and there has been some grumbling about service levels from Webcentral clients.
Melbourne IT came out of Melbourne University in the 1990s as Australia’s monopoly registrar for the .au domain name, but is now the 5th biggest global registrar, which only relies on .au for about 6% of its 5 million domains.
However, the company is still nervous about pending deregulation of the Australian domain name system. There’s a pretty s-xy story on all this, but only AAP covered it at the bottom of its AGM report.
I asked Theo where the political power lay in terms of any decision to deregulate a system that is profitable for Melbourne IT because it doesn’t permit on-selling and only allows applicants to lease domains which have to be renewed each 12 months.
He said the regulator, auDA, is an independent body chaired by Tony Staley and answerable to communications minister Helen Coonan. Staley, of course, is a former Fraser Government Minister and Liberal Party president who is older than John Howard and should have retired years ago.
The auDA discussion paper on deregulation is well worth a read and Theo was strongly pushing the argument for retaining the current system to stop site hijacking and cyber-squatting that comes with a free-for-all system.
When it came to Lucy Turnbull’s re-election, I asked her to promise not to sell any of her 5.257 million Melbourne IT shares and to commit not to lobby any ministers over the domain name issue.
She came good on both counts, but it certainly is ironic that a Howard Government minister has plenty to lose if a deregulation decision is made.