ESG Archive

May 01, 1996
Corporate IR professionals, by and large, tend to practise in a vacuum - their own corporate cocoon - working hard to make their programme value-adding, but never really knowing how successful they have been. Or not. Certainly, many of them belong to professional IR bodies, such as the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), the Investor Relations Society (IRS), or one of the many other societies now established around the world. They attend meetings and...
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Apr 01, 1996
I'm thinking of quitting,' said Mike. 'Quitting what?' I asked. 'The agency or the investor relations business?' 'The country,' came the reply. 'I think it's time to go home.' I had time to take in this surprising news while the waiter placed two beautifully presented antipasti in front of us. We were lunching in a Venetian restaurant - in a room that everyone might have thought was in a real palazzo - except perhaps Peggy Guggenheim. In fact we weren't ...
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Apr 01, 1996
Americans are suffering through our quadrennial presidential primary season, and many of us are already numb to its seemingly interminable existence. As if standing warily just inside the entrance to a long dark tunnel, we know that there are many months to go before we can, hopefully, give Bill and the Czarina the old heave-ho. I feel like I'm trapped in my centre seat at an inscrutably boring opera when all I want to do is visit the men's room - urgently. Th...
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Apr 01, 1996
I always thought of TRW Inc as an ogre company, the one that snoops into my private financial affairs and sells that information to whomever will pay. It is one of the three leading credit-reporting agencies in the US, and one that is regularly hauled up in front of Congress to talk about whether it is guilty of invading the privacy of Americans. Little did I realise - like plenty of other Americans, I suspect - that credit-reporting is only a small part of TRW...
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Apr 01, 1996
Many years ago, when I was a starving - or at least an occasionally hungry - student, I put a windfall of three five pound notes in a book for safekeeping. Even then, I had thousands of books, and to this day I have never found the money. On the upside, it probably spurred me to pay even more assiduous attention to my books than I would have done otherwise. On the downside, even if I were ever to excavate that crock of paper, the sum that would then have kept ...
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Apr 01, 1996
Pity poor executives with profits too high. It's hard for many American companies to decide just what to do with all that excess cash. Should they please income investors and raise dividends? Go on an M&A binge to grow the business? Pay down debt? Last year corporate America chose all those paths, but more than ever before they also took another route - the stock buy-back. Altogether some 1,100 US companies announced stock repurchases, worth within a hair'...
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Apr 01, 1996
Imagine being the investor relations officer of Apple Computer, an icon of American business that has fallen on hard times. For an IRO it could be the biggest headache in the world or the best possible career opportunity. Apple is a prime example of the vagaries of technology stocks. Exaggeration rules and no one can be sure which company will be on the front seat of the roller coaster next week, or even tomorrow.In early February, Apple's stock was selling at...
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Mar 01, 1996
Where beans were once counted, now they are ground and brewed. Mary Ellen and I were making our way through what had once been a bank but was now a gourmet coffee shop. We found a table and sat down. 'I have to write a paper on the relationship between owners and managers in modern corporations,' she said in response to my enquiry as to what she was up to. Mary Ellen was majoring in economics and business. 'And..?' I asked, not really expecting any new i...
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Mar 01, 1996
More Latin American ADRs are on their way to help break the ice that still clogs the pipeline of US capital to the region. Telefonica del Peru will unveil its ADR in June, when the government sells its remaining 29 per cent stake in the company for some $1.4 bn. JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch will manage the international sale, while Banco de Credito hopes to sell $250-$400 mn worth of Telefonica shares on the domestic market. 'Telefonica is a huge transact...
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Mar 01, 1996
Is there gold in them tha'r malls? Texas property company American Industrial Properties has now been the subject of a three year siege by grimly determined majority shareholders trying to oust the company's management. It has a little way to go before it matches the siege of Troy, but the epic battle has revealed some surprising things about corporate governance. Above all, even uninvolved investors across the US were surprised by the revelation that an NYSE-...
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