DRINK TO IT
At Moa Group's sharemarket debut this week, the Insider was cheered to hear master salesman and brand creator Geoff Ross declare that "every self-respecting country in the Western world really ought to have its own brewery on its own exchange." So if, in the fullness of time, some foreign buyer with a fat chequebook makes a generous offer for NZ's own brewery - as happened with vodka-maker 42Below - does that mean the shareholders will say "no thanks"? The Insider thinks not.
XMAS EARLY AND LATE
MPs are preparing for the long summer holiday, and the press gallery Christmas party scheduled for December 14 is a sign that the Parliamentary year is winding down. Parliament will not resume until January 29, giving MPs plenty of downtime.
NUDGING THE AUSSIES
With Australian and New Zealand politicians focused on their own problems, a bit of steam has gone out of the push towards a single economic market. Commerce Minister Craig Foss and Trade Minister Tim Groser have been across the Tasman for CER meetings, looking for ways to turn the little steps being taken in several areas into more ambitious strides. They believe it would be good to get some runs on the board, as next year marks the 30th anniversary of CER.
BIG NAME, BIG MONEY
American domestic goddess Martha Stewart knows how to extract the maximum return from her assets. The New York Times reports that as well as getting a salary from her namesake company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she is also paid a minimum of US$2 million ($2.46 million) a year under an "intangible assets licence agreement," which gives the company the rights to "Martha Stewart's lifestyle and the public perception of Martha Stewart's lifestyle," - everything from her houses down to the minutest detail, even the way she arranges her outdoor furniture.
Health Minister Tony Ryall's opponents will be hoping he doesn't come back with any bright ideas from his trip to Washington. Ryall is swapping notes with President Obama's Health Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Ryall's plans for health funding and structures look positively socialist in comparison to the Democrats' "Obamacare". Ryall will also visit the World Bank, which may give him further ideas about how far to the left New Zealand politics is.
MATTER OF TRUST
Politicians' reaction to the Law Commission's proposed reform of trust law will be interesting. The commission has zeroed in on trusts being used to mask assets for financial advantage. While no one would be so cynical as to believe that our representatives would use them for such venal reasons, trusts are very popular with MPs. They are used by some for good purposes - they create a Chinese wall between their political work and those managing the financial assets. But they can also be used to mask assets and interests from public scrutiny. Will MPs be brave enough to apply the commission's desire for clarity to themselves?
With John Key considering a reshuffle, there's the interesting prospect of a tussle for a Cabinet spot between Auckland MPs Nikki Kaye and Maggie Barry. In Kaye's favour is the fact that she was elected in 2008, and has twice won the previously strong Labour seat of Auckland Central. On the other hand, Barry can point to her wide-ranging experience in the public eye.
The annual Best Investor Website Awards are out again, naming the NZX50 companies that do the best (and worst) job of communicating with shareholders online. And again, there's a question: does a nifty website mean a better return? And again, the answer is no. The five companies with the best websites produced an average return of just over 9.28 per cent in the past 12 months, taking into account dividends and the rise or fall in the share price. The five companies with the worst websites did rather better - an average return of almost 36 per cent.