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Fonterra’s $5m PR spend, homeowners 'underinsured', strong economy might boost equities and Foss plays Colombo

Fonterra’s rising PR bill is upsetting some farmers, as the dairy giant splashes out on public relations, Milk for Schools and celebrity endorsements.

That’s despite New Zealand's biggest company's string of recent communications failures, including the botched handling of the false botulism scare.

Fonterra is understood to be spending more than $5 million a year on public relations, today’s National Business Review print edition reports.

Meanwhile, Construction Cost Consultants estimates up to 93% of homeowners are underinsured, representing about $167 billion worth of residential property.

It has been a cracker year for equities, with fresh data showing the NZX50 has had its third-best year since inception. Financial analysts ruminate on what that means for 2014 and whether a strong economy, underpinned by the Canterbury earthquake rebuild, could push company returns along.

Remember the TV detective series Colombo? Shoeshine does, and he reckons Commerce Minister Craig Foss was doing his best Columbo impression when the threw in last-minute additions to the Companies and Limited Partnerships Amendment Bill.

The column also picks up on Abano Healthcare’s model defence against an unsolicited takeover offer.

In other news, the Shareholders Association is concerned about a string of transparency and disclosure issues around listed company meetings – something it might raise with regulators.

Media reporter Victoria Young traverses the chances of cinema advertising making a comeback, what with fewer eyes on TV.

In Technology, digital editor Chris Keall gives teleworking the once over, and asks, why aren’t we doing it more?

Economics editor Rob Hosking details how Inland Revenue and other authorities are pursuing trustees with increasing vigour, and how “passive” trustees have fewer places to hide when court action is taken.

Agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth challenges to Auckland’s latte drinkers over the economic benefits of a strong dairy industry and the necessary environmental balancing act.

For light relief, In Tray quizzes readers on Paul Henry, who will soon be returning to our screens, to determine how much of the shock jock’s wisdom has entered the public consciousness.

A six-strong Commerce Commission team is working nights and weekends to complete an investigation into interest rate swaps to rural customers – involving about $8 billion of swaps loans between 2006 and 2009.

Margin Call details how Bathurst Resources finally has the greenies off its back and how a broking firm analysis allays fears on several fronts, including the Pike River hangover.

Briefly:

  • In Asia Watch,Nathan Smith examines China’s Third Plenum and the contradictions of pursuing market-driven goals while ensuring the legitimacy and centrality of the ruling party.
  • In Economically Speaking, Neville Bennett looks at sluggish global demand and wonders if mild depression is a normal economic state.
  • Order Paper runs its finger over next year’s parliamentary timetable, looking for an obvious election date, and wonders what National will be offering voters to win a third term.

All this and more in today’s National Business Review. Out now.

Comments and questions
1

In comparison to Len Browns office fonterra is pretty good . Fonterra is also a private company and spending it's shareholders money not ratepayers money.