Mike Cannon-Brookes

Australia and Telstra have been placed first in an Asia Pacific diversity, equity and inclusion ranking by UK’s Equality Group, with high gender diversity representation in leadership and ethnic and cultural minority engagement across their geographic regions. 

The study examined almost 150 leading organisations across nine APAC nations to identify the countries and top ranking organisations based in Australia, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. 

Business news

The big talk around town on Monday was that energy company AGL has rejected a $8 million takeover bid by billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and giant Canadian based fund manager Brookfield. Australia’s biggest energy company rejected the buyout bid that was conditional on AGL meeting net zero emissions by 2030, and could have closed its Latrobe Valley coal power station 15 years ahead of the 2045 target. 

AGL said the bid: “materially undervalues the company on a change of control basis, and is not in the best interests of AGL stakeholders.” Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to stop the bid on energy security grounds. 

Director of the Monash Energy Institute Professor Ariel Liebman said: “This was a game changing offer.”

“The offer to AGL shareholders seemed very generous and I imagine many shareholders would be very tempted. I find it hard to believe they will get much better offers than that for the legacy fossil generation portfolio in the future.”

The bid – successful or not – is already a triumph for the renewable energy cause and climate action.  The message is it’s now only a matter of time before coal is declared not finite but useless. 

The Cannon-Brookes news came just a week after another highly interesting announcement – that Australian climate change advisory firm Pollination had secured a $70 million investment (about 12 per cent of the firm) from ANZ Banking Group. Pollination aims to be “the world’s largest dedicated natural capital asset manager, committing to raising $6 billion over a series of funds”. 

The deal gives the bank access to a wave of global green financing opportunities.

“They were the first bank to do sustainability loans, and we’ve been doing a lot of really interesting things around rainforest bonds and working with many governments and corporates in terms of their transition to net zero,” says Pollination co-founder Martijn Wilder. “This entire decarbonisation shift is now really accelerating, as you’ve seen over the last 12 months.” 

Speaking of pollinating, Australian Honey Ventures (AHV) got a sweet injection of funding with the start-up’s crowdfunding campaign securing $1 million on Birchal in the space of 30 minutes. The West Australian fair pay honey business has now raised over $1.38 million to date from over 480 investors since the crowdfunding campaign went live yesterday.

Including its first crowdfunding raise in July 2021, AHV has raised over $2.1 million in eight months, enabling the scale of operations for AHV’s Real Good Honey brand, secured two landmark export deals to Kuwait in the UAE heavyweight retailers late last year.

Read: Australian medicinal honey start-up creates a buzz in the Middle East

And Aussie e-bike company Zoomo announced it has secured $US20 million led by US venture capital fund Collaborative Fund and consisting of SG Fleet, Akuna Capital, MUFG Innovation Partners and WIND Ventures.

Predictions for the year ahead:

Marketing, business development and PR firm Lindy Johnson recently released a research paper predicting “stacks and stacks” of work in 2022, despite supply chain issues, labour market challenges and ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic.

The firm, which works with architecture and design studios, reached out to architects, landscape architects and peak industry body leaders to get their predictions the year ahead.

Apparently retrofitting buildings to improve ventilation, and developing flexible work and education spaces and climate-adaptive architecture, is huge at the moment. 

The Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe noted on 5 February that it costs 7.5 per cent more to build a new dwelling than it did 12 months ago. This is related to the pandemic supply chain pushing up the price of building materials.

To add to supply chain concerns are fears that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could force a rethink of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s outlook for interest rate hikes. Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer. A potential invasion could push oil prices above $UA120 a barrel and lead to a global supply shock “al la the 1970s” Andrew Ticehurst, economist at Nomura Australia told The AFR. 

All this could hurt fragile consumer confidence and drive inflation higher. 

We know that in Sydney for example most Sydneysiders are concerned about the cost of living, and sometimes or always forgo essential goods and services because of the high cost of living, although they earn more than the national average. 

Read: We thought Sydney had taken a hit – now we know

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