World-first tech or 20-year long con? Fletcher’s consultants bill balloons, Pop goes the bubble?

In NBR Print today

Campbell Gibson reveals that a police officer is copping two decades-worth of frustration from investors in “the Matariki Codex”  – an ambitious technology project once touted as having the potential to change the laws of mathematics. Among those who have now had their day in court are an NBR Rich Lister and a prominent property developer. The case included talk of fraud and deceit – but the police officer who directs the company that owns the technology insists he’s just trying to do right by shareholders.

Jenny Ruth finds Fletcher Building has coughed up more than $30 million for consultants since Mark Adamson became chief executive – despite the ranks of its highly paid executives bloating by more than 50%. Meanwhile, Mr Adamson only has to reach 90% of his earnings target to effectively double his base salary and his chairman, Sir Ralph Norris, is the highest paid of the chairs of New Zealand’s Top 30 companies. All as the company manages to underperform in the middle of a building boom, she writes.

In Hunter’s Corner, Tim Hunter says retirement villages have had a charmed life for more than a decade, aided by a tax-free business model tacitly endorsed by a grateful government.

Their shareholders have enjoyed excellent returns as they ride a wave of demand on a generous swell of property prices. But a series of politely critical notes from FNZC’s Arie Dekker about retirement village valuations and disclosure standards suggest the market is contemplating the end of the housing boom – or is that a bubble?

In Shoeshine, Duncan Bridgeman notes that at a time the local equity market is struggling for depth, it’s propitious to contemplate how the overly conservative KiwiSaver can be improved.

Among the ideas gathering support are: enabling punters to split their investment between more than one provider; introducing an age-based asset allocation; and allowing people to manage their own portfolios.

In Order Paper, Rob Hosking writes that Todd Barclay’s behaviour leaves much to be desired but – to be fair to National’s youngest MP – the problems surrounding him are a little more nuanced than portrayed. He is not the only new government MP to find the electorate staff he has inherited are somewhat set in their ways. Nonetheless, the resulting omnishambles has caused real damage – particularly to the public’s perception of the prime minister.

All this and more in today’s NBR Print Edition. Out now.