BR deal loss fails to faze Goodman

Goodman Group will continue to pursue its expansion into Brazil, despite losing out on the proposed acquisition of an industrial portfolio from BR Properties.
Shanghai night field

Last week Global Logistic Properties (GLP) announced that it had finalised the deal with BR Properties to acquire the portfolio at the same price as had been proposed by Goodman last November of R$3.18 billion ($1.5 billion).

BR Properties announced with the deal that the sale to GLP ended the November 2013 agreement with WTGoodman.

Goodman Group announced on November 22 last year that it and its Brazil partner, WTorre, were in exclusive due diligence with BR Properties to acquire 34 industrial assets.

BR Properties said late on Wednesday that the deal with GLP was concluded after the end of the exclusive period granted to WTGoodman.

According to real estate analysts, the about-turn was a surprise, but would not be a hinderance to Goodman’s plans to expand into the region.

Simon Wheatley, of Goldman Sachs, said that there was no price impact on the Goodman stock at the time the exclusive due diligence was announced, suggesting that investors were not pricing any expectation of higher funds management income.

”Similarly, we had made no allowance for the successful conclusion of the asset acquisition from BR Properties in our Goodman estimates and there are no implications for our estimates or valuation,” he said.

”It does mute the assets under management growth outlook versus what it could have been. However,it means that Goodman remains in a relatively immature exposure to the Brazil logistics market, albeit that all Goodman’s Brazil exposure is through development opportunities.”

The change in circumstances comes as the Australian industrial market continues to gain traction.

Another round of asset sales is tipped in coming months, more likely from the main players of Stockland, DEXUS, GPT and possibly Australand as they send cash and staff to the higher-margin residential and office sectors.

During the final quarter of last year, JLL recorded industrial asset transactions of $771.7 million in NSW alone, the highest quarterly value total since the firm began recording data over a decade ago.

JLL’s NSW managing director and national head of industrial, Michael Fenton, said it was largely a result of a high level of investor activity, complemented by a lack of quality product available in the Australian industrial market.

Fenton said he expected yields would continue to tighten.

Could you say no to $90,000?

James Roupell: accepted and then shunned a cash injection for his business. Cast of the BBC show Dragons’ Den
Shanghai night field

It was quite a U-turn. A successful small business that agreed to offers of investment on the Dragons’ Den program on the BBC in the UK, turned down the cash moments later in favour of a cheaper deal elsewhere.

Dragons’ Den is a show where entrepreneurs have three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires who are prepared to invest their money in the best ideas.

In the show Dragons’ Den, James Roupell, founder of Bobo Buddies, received five offers of investment for his business. He accepted offers from Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones on the show but moments after leaving the studio, he regretted his decision.

“Standing there, surrounded by film crew and cameras, with all eyes on you, is so surreal,” he said. “You’re under so much pressure to make a decision. I was trying to think rationally. It was only once I’d left that I thought, ‘What have I done?’”

Mr Roupell had accepted an offer of £50,000 [around AUD$92,000] in exchange for a 40 per cent stake in his business, reducing to 30 per cent if certain targets were met. “They were very persuasive,” he said. “I hadn’t planned to give away nearly that much of my company.”

Bobo Buddies makes functional cuddly toys for kids. Its flagship product is a backpack that also combines a soft toy, pillow, and blanket. Its toddler version of the product comes with reins for parents.

Mr Roupell had the idea for his business in June 2012 while sitting on a plane. “I was surrounded by kids and there were soft toys and blankets strewn everywhere,” he said. “When I was small, my granny had sewn a blanket into my favourite toy and I suddenly thought, why don’t I start making these all-in-one toys?

“I couldn’t get off that plane fast enough.”

Bobo Buddies went from dream to reality in just six months. “I wanted to have the first stock in by Christmas,” said Mr Roupell. “The business launched in October and the first 4,000 units arrived a month or so later.”

He sold out of his first batch solely through trade fairs and Christmas shows, and managed to secure a huge order from Debenhams. “This is how I ended up in the Den,” he explained. “I didn’t have enough cash to buy the stock, so I needed £50,000 to accept the deal.”

As a new start-up, Mr Roupell couldn’t access the finance he needed from the bank. “It was so frustrating,” he said. “The money would have been back in my account just a few weeks later.”

He applied to the BBC’s Dragons’ Den and went through to the final stage of the program in March last year. All the Dragons offered to provide investment, but at a high cost. “They wanted 40 per cent of the business for what was essentially a short-term fix,” he said.

Having accepted a joint offer from Meaden and Jones, Mr Roupell left the studio and immediately called his mentor to find out if he’d made a huge mistake.

“I know some people from within the retail industry who help me out when I’ve had questions or problems. They are my sounding board,” he explained. “I explained my situation and to my surprise, most of them offered to help.”

Mr Roupell came to an agreement with one of his contacts to borrow the full amount and simply return it with a small amount of interest the following month. “The most important thing was that I lost no equity,” he said.

“A lot of people feel that they should bend over backwards for these big names in the Den. I felt that I could do it on my own and I knew I didn’t need to give up that much of my business. It was really important to me that I retain control of the business I built.”

When Mr Roupell told representatives for Ms Meaden and Mr Jones that he had decided not to go ahead with the investment, they were “reasonable about it,” he said. “I explained that I had secured the money for no equity stake and they wished me luck. They’ve even been in touch since to see how the business is doing.”

In the past year since the show was filmed, Bobo Buddies has gone from strength to strength. The company has now sold more than 20,000 units and supplies Debenhams, Harvey Nichols, Fenwick and 250 other retailers across the UK. Bobo Buddies are exported to eight countries and turnover has now hit £160,000.

Despite turning down the Dragons’ offers of investment, Mr Roupell said that going on the Den was a worthwhile experience. “It was a huge confidence boost to sit in front of these guys you see on TV and have them all want to invest,” he said. “And beating the targets I set out in the Den – by a long way – while keeping 100pc of my business has been extremely satisying.”

THE TELEGRAPH

Wife of missing Perth man Paul Weeks missing praying for a miracle

Perth man Paul Weeks among the missingDoor of Malaysia flight MH370 possibly found: VietnamWhat happened to Flight MH370?Why missing flight is such big news
Shanghai night field

The wife of a Perth man among the passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines plane has said she is still praying for a miracle to bring him home.

Danica Weeks broke down in tears when she told Nine News she was still praying her husband Paul Weeks was still alive.

“I can’t give up hope. I would love him to walk through that door, hold him one more time… I see him everywhere in the house,” she said.

“We don’t know … It’s just waiting to hear, and look, we just have to face that when that happens … you know, fingers crossed.”

“It’s so hard, so hard. I mean we are praying for a miracle but what happens I don’t know.”

Mrs Weeks recounted his last day at home with his children and hopes he spent what may have been his last hours looking through photographs from that day.

“He took lots of photos obviously because he had his Surface [tablet] which he was taking with him so we did you know video selfies of the four of us.”

“I hope Paulie would have been looking through it [his photos].”

Mr Weeks was one of two New Zealanders named on a passenger list for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared off the coast of Vietnam yesterday. The other Kiwi was named as Ximin Wang, 50.

The aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Chinese authorities said the Boeing 777-200 never made it into Chinese airspace.

Mr Weeks left Christchurch for Perth in 2011 with his wife, Danica, and two young children after the earthquakes in search of a better life.

The 39-year-old was en route to Mongolia for his new job with Transwest Mongolia.

Mr Weeks’ older sister, Sara Weeks, of Christchurch, said: ”At the moment we’re all just here hoping to find something out. I think we’re hoping that it landed somewhere nicely and he’s sitting having a coffee. We don’t know anything other than what we have seen on the television, but I think when you put two and two together… it’s not looking good.”

Sara Weeks said she spoke to her brother’s wife in Perth on Sunday morning and “she is very, very upset – naturally. She is of the understanding that it’s looking like the plane has crashed. She is bracing herself for the worst”.

Mr Weeks’ mother, who followed him to Perth and “lives about two doors down on the same street” flew to Christchurch this morning on a pre-booked flight, Sara Weeks said, to attend her 40th birthday next weekend.

”Everyone other than my grandparent moved over there. My mother, my youngest brother and my oldest daughter all flew over this morning. We’re with my grandparents. We’re just basically sitting here watching the news,” she said.

“We’re obviously very upset. But you kind of cling to that little bit of hope when you don’t know.”

Sara Weeks said she had not seen her brother since he moved to Perth, but they kept in regular contact on Skype.

”He had just taken on a new role. That’s why he was heading to Mongolia. He was going to be based there for a month on [at a time]. It was a really good job and he was going to be paid very well,” she said.

”He was excited and looking forward to getting started. It was going to set them up. When [Danica] kissed him goodbye she was hoping he would be back in a month.”

Sara Weeks said her brother was a “lovely man”, “lots of fun” and “very family-oriented”.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was in contact with their next of kin and providing consular assistance to the families.

Robyn Preston, Fairfax New Zealand

‘Dividends are the great Australian export’

The future looks bright: Investment banks are predicting solid gains for the ASX next year. Photo: Peter BraigDividends at Australian companies are increasing at the fastest pace among the developed world’s largest stock markets amid project spending cuts and an unstable global economic recovery.
Shanghai night field

Australian firms paid $US40.3 billion ($44.5 billion) in dividends last year, 89 per cent more than in 2009, according to Henderson Group data. That’s the largest increase among the 10 biggest developed equity markets and compares with a 43 per cent increase in payouts worldwide in that period, the data show.

Investors at Equity Trustees, Threadneedle Asset Management and Epoch Holding who manage a combined $US217 billion say a reduction in capital expenditure from some of Australia’s largest firms will keep pressure on chief executive officers to return cash to shareholders. Business investment shrank the most since 2009 last quarter, dropping more than economists had estimated, a government report showed February 27. Companies from BHP Billiton to Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum last month raised payouts.

“Dividends are the great Australian export,” George Boubouras, who helps oversee $US30 billion as chief investment officer at Equity Trustees, said by phone. “For the next three to five years dividend-per-share will continue to dominate until larger companies really start to take on new growth projects which they are still a long way away from. They are going to continue to give cash flow back to the shareholder.”

The S&P/ASX 200 Index offers a forecast dividend yield of 4.8 per cent this year, the highest among the world’s 10 largest equity markets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a 2.2 per cent forecast payout on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and 2.8 per cent for the MSCI World Index of developed-market shares, the data show.

Share Rally

The S&P/ASX Accumulation 200 Index gained 12 per cent in the past 12 months, recouping losses from the financial crisis. That compares with a 6.9 per cent advance on the S&P/ASX 200 that doesn’t include reinvested dividends and remains 20 per cent below its 2007 peak.

While Australian dividends grew at a faster pace in the past four years than global payouts, they remain a small chunk of the total $US1.03 trillion paid last year, according to Henderson data.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, the world’s biggest mining companies, and Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, all increased the proportion of earnings they paid to shareholders — the so-called dividend-payout ratio — in the past 12 months. The Commonwealth Bank, the nation’s biggest lender, boosted its interim payout by 12 per cent last month, more than analysts had estimated.

Foreign Investors

About $US9 billion in dividend payments went to foreign investors last year through the third quarter, according to data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s on course for the largest outflow since 2009.

Australian companies have historically paid out more on average to shareholders than US counterparts due to a tax incentive known as franking credits, which reduce a shareholder’s tax bill by recognising that the company has already paid a levy on its profits.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 4.1 per cent in February, its best monthly advance since July. That left the measure trading at 15.1 times estimated earnings of its constituent companies, compared with 15.8 for the S&P 500 and 15.4 for the MSCI developed markets gauge, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

BHP, Rio

BHP on February 18 increased its dividend 3.5 per cent and forecast more cost savings. Rio Tinto boosted its payout 15 per cent last month after a 43 per cent surge in second-half profit, and Woodside said it will pay a final dividend of$US1.03 a share, up 58 per cent on last year.

Bill Priest, who oversees $US38 billion as chief executive officer of Epoch, favors Amcor due to its payout policy. The Melbourne-based packaging company posted dividend expansion of 5.6 per cent in the past three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This will grow a further 7.3 per cent through 2017, forecasts show.

“We have a mutual love affair with Amcor because we look at capital spending the same way they do,” he said.

“We are still going to get pretty good dividend growth. We are going to have dividends continue to be wanted and needed.”

Companies worldwide are not investing enough, according to a record 69 per cent of global asset managers surveyed by Bank of America in February who oversee$US591 billion, with 58 per cent saying they would rather see cash spent on capital expenditure returned to shareholders. For Jonathan Crown at Threadneedle Asset Management, he wants both.

Good Allocation

“Companies that are generating cash flow are able to put it back into the company to get good earnings growth but at the same time they are also giving money back to shareholders,” Crown, who helps oversee$US149 billion, told Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong. “The key to long-term returns is this good capital allocation.”

Capital spending in Australia dropped 5.2 per cent in the three months ended December from the previous period, the statistics bureau said last month. That was the biggest decline since 2009 and compares with the median estimate for a 1.3 per cent slide by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before the report.

Company spending cuts may continue after the US Federal Reserve began tapering record stimulus and amid expectations China will post the slowest economic growth since 1990.

China Growth

Premier Li Keqiang last week announced a 7.5 per cent target for economic expansion for 2014, meeting the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said growth below the goal is acceptable, with employment, not the exact level of expansion, being key. BHP relies on China for 29 per cent of its revenue, compared with 35 per cent for Rio Tinto.

For Shane Oliver, the head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors, dividend growth shows Australian companies are optimistic about the future and don’t see the need to hold on to excess cash. AMP Capital oversees$US131 billion.

“The surge in dividends is a good sign that companies are confident about the outlook,” Oliver said.

Bloomberg

Women want as much sex as men

Unlocking a cultural cage: Daniel Bergner believes both genders would be surprised at what women really want from sex. Photo: Supplied ‘A desire pill might help to keep us in our marriages’: Daniel Bergner. Photo: Supplied
Shanghai night field

Couple hugging Photo: Eye Candy Images

We all know what causes the inherent tension between the sexes – men want sex more, lots more, than women. They’re genetically programmed to spread their seed as widely as possible, while women want to mate for life. Right?

Wrong. The truth is women want sex just as much as men do, and with lots of different partners, according to a provocative investigation into female desire by American author Daniel Bergner. They’re just not being honest about it with themselves – or with anyone else.

”One of our most comforting assumptions … that female eros is much better made for monogamy than the male libido, is scarcely more than a fairy tale,” Bergner argues in his book What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire.

Bergner, who visits Australia this month, says ”it’s almost comical” how long the myth that women are better suited to monogamy than men has existed. His journey into the wilds of female desire turned up no evidence that women are ”evolutionally scripted” to be more chaste than men.

”There is nothing to suggest there is any difference between the innate selves of men and women, their sexual desires, their promiscuous desires, their visualisation desires,” he says on the phone from his home in Brooklyn.

Instead Bergner blames our culture for holding men and women to different sexual standards for thousands of years. The slut/stud double standard has constrained female sexual desire to the point that women don’t even fully recognise it within themselves.

”We human beings are infinite in our erotic variations but, in general, women seem more disconnected from desire than men,” says Bergner, whose previous book The Other Side of Desire traversed the extremes of desire. He believes men find it reassuring to think women aren’t as randy as they are. ”This is so comforting for men, and society in general, to think half the human species is naturally made to be a stabilising force. It’s particularly comforting for men to think the woman they’re with is not thinking about other sex partners as much as they are.”

To find out what women really want in the bedroom, Bergner interviewed sexologists, ordinary women, scientists working on the development of a female Viagra and spent a week at a primate colony.

He discovered women actually lose interest in their long-term partners quicker than men do, are more likely than men to want to receive sexual pleasure than give it, and get much more turned on by strangers than known lovers. The revelation that women are just as lusty as men could spell real danger for monogamy – except women are unlikely to own up to their true desires.

Canadian psychologist Meredith Chivers starkly illustrated the female desire disconnect in a series of experiments that prompted Bergner’s book. She placed a miniature light bulb and sensor (called a plethysmograph) inside the vagina to measure the blood flow as her female subjects watched a variety of pornography. To establish what turns women on, Chivers showed them sex between men and women, men and men, women and women, and a pair of bonobos (a type of chimpanzee) while she measured their physiological reactions. The women also had to rate their own feelings of arousal on a key pad.

According to their self-reports, straight women were indifferent to the bonobos, and not especially turned on by gay sex involving men or women. Yet their plethysmograph readings told a different story, soaring no matter who was on the screen and what they were doing.

”Chivers found there was a very consistent difference between what women say turns them on, and what their bodies say turns them on,” Bergner explains.

When Chivers conducted the same experiment with men, their physical and mental responses matched. Straight men were unaffected by the bonobos, sort of turned on by male sex, very turned on by heterosexual sex, and incredibly aroused by lesbian encounters. So why are women less in tune with their sexuality than men? Bergner says we still raise our girls with far less sexual permissiveness than we allow boys.

”Even though we live in a sexually unrestrained, a sexually infatuated society … there is still a slut shaming culture to some degree [for women],” he says. ”There is no corresponding shaming for men.”

Yet up-end those cultural norms and women are more likely to express their true desires. In a typical speed dating scenario, when men progress down a line of women, men tend to pick a lot more candidates for second dates than women do.

But Bergner says when researchers reversed these gender roles and women progressed down the line, they selected just as many partners for second dates as men did, and rated their desire equally.

”It vividly shows when you remove the forces of culture, female desire gets stronger,” Bergner says. ”There is something in the act of approaching – it’s active, it’s a bit aggressive, it sparks a feeling of desire. When our culture places women in a passive role it is containing desire.”

One psychologist quoted in What Do Women Want? calls monogamy a woman’s ”cultural cage” that distorts their libido. A German study of thousands of committed couples found female desire wanes more rapidly than male desire during a long-term relationship. Within several years of being together the woman’s desire for her partner plunged, while the man’s desire for her declined gradually over time.

Once again our culture is at fault, the theory being that because men are encouraged much more than women to think sexually, that reinforces the neurocircuitry of desire in their brain in a way that female desire isn’t. ”Men bring that home at the end of the day,” Bergner suggests.

What Do Women Want? also debunks the myth that whereas men need sex to feel intimate, women need intimacy to feel sexual desire. On the contrary, women crave being erotically worshipped, and nothing is more of an aphrodisiac than a fantasy involving a stranger.

One psychology professor interviewed by Bergner says women’s desire is ”not relational, but narcissistic”, that is, it’s not about the connection with their partner, it’s about themselves. Research shows that compared with men, women’s erotic fantasies are less about giving pleasure than receiving it.

”The research [suggests] that intimacy, too much closeness, creating one soul out of two may lead away from heat, away from lust,” Bergner says.

Meredith Chivers uncovered the sexual pull of the stranger for women in another round of experiments. She played tapes to her female subjects of X-rated stories involving people known to them and strangers. While women maintained they weren’t turned on by the stranger scenarios, the plethysmograph showed sex involving male strangers stirred eight times more blood than sex involving friends or former lovers.

It seems what makes for sexual frisson – distance and wanting something you don’t have – is incompatible with the elements of an enduring committed relationship such as emotional intimacy and stability. But even though intimacy is not the key to getting the female libido pumping, women still pursue monogamous relationships because that’s the cultural norm, and they’re considered the most stable foundation for families. American drug companies are now racing to create a female desire drug, for which there is estimated to be a potential $US4 billion market in the US alone. Bergner believes a female Viagra would bolster, rather than threaten, monogamy because it would be sought by women in long-term relationships who have lost their desire. ”The buyers won’t be women going out on a third or fifth or seventh date,” he says. ”There’s no shortage of desire early on. The problems come with time, because, biologically, genetically, there’s no evidence that when it comes to lust, women are any better suited to monogamy than men are… A desire pill might help keep us in our marriages.”

Ironically, despite efforts by the anti-monogamy movement to co-opt Bergner into their cause, the author claims he is the romantic in his own relationship. ”I cling to my monogamous relationship,” Bergner insists. ”[With the book] I’m trying to strip away the cultural notions about love and commitment, which cloud discussion of desire.”

Frustratingly he doesn’t offer many solutions as to how we integrate his findings about female desire into the monogamous relationship model that most still favour. ”The best books, the best journeys to understanding, are the ones that don’t result in tidy solutions,” he says. ”We are human.”

While Bergner thinks it would be arrogant of him to tell women how to unlock their innate lustiness, he does have this advice for men: ”Hold on to the sides of your chair, and even if you need to ask five times before getting a candid response about your partner’s sexual desires and wishes, have a candid conversation that might actually lead to sexual electricity.”

Daniel Bergner will speak at the All About Women Festival at the Sydney Opera House on March 30.