I was wrong - you had 'better buy Bega'


"The phrase "Doing a Bradbury" has since entered the Australian sporting lexicon as a byword for an indecent fluke. And he doesn't mind one bit: "Every time it's used I love it and I hope they're still using it when I'm dead," he says." The Guardian


In case you have forgotten, in the 2002 Winter Olympics Australia's Stephen Bradbury, a speed skater, won Gold even though he was a good 15 yards behind the four leaders, because they all collided and fell down and he just skated on through. I didn't know that he had also actually got into the final by two more flukes, having failed in the quarter finals but was reinstated by the disqualification of someone ahead of him, and in the semis, similarly to the finals, others in front of him fell down. Not that he was a complete loss as a skater but he had been plagued by injuries and sickness in the previous years and was still not up to his youthful form. Anyway it was a "glorious, ludicrous and hopelessly comic" win which has inspired many others to keep going when all seems lost. And it wasn't just a win for him, it was also the first time a Winter Sports Gold Medal had been won by anyone from the Southern Hemisphere. Well that's what the Guardian said.


I think when I wrote my piece on Bega a week or so ago, I had thought from my 'research' that Bega was in trouble. They were in a trading halt after all and to me that spelt trouble and the inference in the articles that I had read was that they had problems. But no what actually happened was that they were in the process of closing the purchase of Lion's dairy and drinks portfolio, after the Stephen Bradbury moment - in the sense of better fancied competitors falling by the wayside. In this instance it was a Chinese company - China Mengniu - which was eliminated by our Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as "contrary to the national interest", back in August. And like the Stephen Bradbury Olympics win it was a second chance win because the price that the Chinese company had paid - $600 million was lower than everyone expected, causing John Irvin, Bega's Executive Chairman to say, "We thought oh gee, we should have been in there". There were other competitors for the business - well there are lots of well-known brands in there - Pura, Dairy Farmers, Farmers Union and Big M plus the drinks - but as the AFR said, they were successfully elbowed out of the way for a mere $560 million, to enable Bega to more than double their revenue. Let's hope they are successful in developing them.


It also means that those businesses are now back in Australian hands, as Lion itself was sold to Kirin - a Japanese company many years ago. We used to own shares in Lion but we sold them at about the time of the Japanese takeover - or maybe we had to. I can't quite remember now. Lots of Australians own shares - ordinary Australians. I don't just mean through their superannuation funds and banks, but directly. I suspect it's a higher rate of mum and dad (as they are referred to by the press) - ownership of shares here than in other western countries, which is interesting. Perhaps it dates back to the days of the massive mining boom back in the 70s - Poseidon and all that. When fortunes were made and lost. For Australia also likes to gamble. They also gamble more than other countries - except perhaps China ironically enough. So now that houses are getting ever more unaffordable people look to do something else with their savings and that is often shares. You will find that the checkout chicks in the supermarkets for example have shares in their employers, and since they have them, then they might also have some in one of the banks or the big miners. Cheap online trading has made the buying and selling shares so much easier.


As you know Australia is deeply embroiled in an economic war with China. I'm not quite sure how I feel about our government's approach, which is pretty hard line. I suspect that, even though I really do not like our current government at all, I actually feel that in this case they are doing the right thing. I am all for free trade, but I don't think I am for foreign ownership of crucial things like food, water, and power. It probably doesn't matter that much now but who knows what will happen in the future when there may well be wars over access to these things. And yes it will mean horrendous problems for many of our exporters, and some of them may well go under, but many will keep going and battle through. COVID19 has shown that the best businesses find a way to get through hardship. Let's hope the trade wars will do the same.


Anyway well done Bega - and their Executive Chairman of 20 years Barry Irvin, who has recently had his own battle with cancer - for the moment won. Maybe I should buy shares, but I'm probably too late.




BACK FROM THE SHOPS TODAY

As I was unpacking the shopping I glanced outside and saw the annual trek of mother duck with her new babies trying to get out of our block of land and down to the river. Apologies the photos are not very good - one can't get too close or she panics and goes the wrong way, but we managed to open the gate for her and she knew we were doing this. I do not know where she nested this year and we missed the ducklings jumping out of their home, but she looks to have them all.


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