With free money on offer, we ought to seize the day and think global
IT MAY not grow on trees, but now is the season for free money. Cash is king. Since last week's column, I've been to London and back to attend a board meeting, and I have been reminded all over again about how small this world is and how the cost of money drives opportunities right around the globe, no matter where we live.
And the world of media and marketing is become smaller as well, with Bauer, the German magazine company, taking full control of The Australian Women's Weekly and all the ACP stable of magazines. And as we already know, two big American hedge funds now control the Nine Network.
In the case of my own company, we have already rolled our business interests into the London-based Aegis, and in the process become its second-biggest shareholder. This global expansion will extend further as Aegis shortly becomes part of the Dentsu company of Japan.
Make no mistake, the Australian media scene will continue to become more and more a part of a global industry.
Charlie, our resident oracle, who has picked every economic change in the past two decades, has always seen the world as a very small place and it's the reason why he has developed his green credentials so assiduously.
He knows that our future depends on a sustainable green natural environment, as well as the health and well-being of the greenback.
And money is where the action is at the moment. Charlie sees a clear trend in all the "free money" that is driving some of the biggest global deals the world has seen.
These transactions are being done in currencies where the borrowing costs are almost nil. This effectively free finance, which provides a billion dollars at less than 1 per cent, means that we can expect dramatic changes in ownership.
Gone are the days when good family housekeeping, of being debt-free and living on dad's weekly pay envelope was a useful model for business growth and development.
Remember the thrill of opening that pay packet, a brown envelope with real money inside - notes and coins down to the last cent, or penny or farthing, depending on how old you are. And how you had to immediately turn it over to mum for her to deduct your board, leaving just enough for a couple of mixed grills, and a half-dozen packets of Craven A.
And if you were married, then the pay packet went to your wife.
And then of course there was the "other" envelope, the overtime cash, or "mad money" as we called it, which allowed for a little Corio whisky and a punt or two.
But those days are over, even if the lady of the house now runs the online banking, as she does in most households today.
Nevertheless, it is clear that we can expect a volatile world. Australian companies should be proactive and take the game on, rather than just sit back and be overtaken.
We have much in our favour. Our dollar is strong, our people are among the best in the world, our banks are better than most, our regulators are vigilant and flexible, and despite any other headlines in the rest of the paper, the economy is in good shape.
Just go to Europe and you'll see the difference. I did it with our family enterprise and became part of the rest of the world of media.
Kerry Stokes did it with his Caterpillar enterprise in China. Rupert Murdoch has done it for decades. Our great mining companies, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, have been leading the way globally for half a century.
I'm fond of reminding people that Google Maps came from two clever people in Sydney.
Charlie reckons that we are facing our best opportunity since the gold rush, to take control of our own destiny and use the availability of free money to expand Australian business interests as we have never done before.