Weaven's bold digital media play
Industry funds veteran Garry Weaven says the sector's multi-million dollar investment in a new general media site can be justified on commercial terms.
He expects the site to be profitable within four years, despite indicating it will not allow advertising from rival financial services organisations.
"I'm the first one to understand that it is somewhat speculative," Mr Weaven, a director of The New Daily, told BusinessDay. "The market is moving all the time. But, on the numbers we've done, it can be justified as a commercial investment."
Industry superannuation fund AustralianSuper, United Super, the trustee of building industry fund Cbus, and Industry Super Holdings, a company that owns various industry fund entities, have ploughed at least $3 million into the site, guided by Crikey backer Eric Beecher.
Mr Weaven said the site, to host content from national broadcaster ABC, will seek "broad appeal" beyond the industry fund members who are being encouraged to subscribe.
AustralianSuper spokeswoman Susan Fairley said the fund saw the investment as a "communications vehicle" in the marketing budget rather than a direct investment.
Asked if the site would allow rival financial services to advertise, Mr Weaven said he would "prefer to see financial services that are completely aligned with industry funds' objectives" and The New Daily shareholders would have the final say on the matter.
Of editorial independence, Mr Weaven said, advertising would be self-evident, advertorial would be made clear and finance content would not be dominated by "guff about self-managed super funds".
"If there's a genuine story about a stuff-up of some kind in the industry funds community, it will be aired," he said. "[But] what I have faith in is if we stick to telling the truth, the truth will probably be pretty kind."
The super industry is in a privileged position of receiving 9.25 per cent of Australians' pay, with a bipartisan commitment to increase compulsory contributions to 12 per cent in the next decade.