Wotif hits its use by date as big players dominate

Wotif founder Graeme Wood still holds 15.5 per cent of the company. Photo: Louise KennerleyExpedia to buy Wotif for $703 million
Nanjing Night Net

It started as a pioneering technology disrupter in the hotel booking space 14 years ago, but Wotif has already reached its use by date.

The next wave of global competitors has now disrupted it, leaving it little option other than to get out.

Under these circumstances, the $703 million price tag being offered for Wotif by Expedia is generous enough, but the shares were worth significantly more than this a year ago.

The offer of $3.30 a share (which runs to a value of $3.40 if you can use the franking credits) represents a 30 per cent premium to the prevailing share price, but doesn’t compare well with last year’s high of $5.63.

Over the past 18 months it has become increasingly evident that large accommodation sites have been more aggressively colonising the Australian market for online accommodation and airfares.

The IT race

In the online world, improving technology provides the differentiator between companies occupying this arena. Wotif had fallen behind in the IT race.

Where online providers of services have traditionally been viewed as “capital lite”, the relentless drive to enhance the customer and wholesaler experience using more seamless technology has provided the big, resource-rich international players with an increasing edge.

The international players have also increasingly dominated travel and accommodation sites at the expense of local players, as middle-class customers search for offshore travel options.

Over the past year the Wotif board has conducted two strategic reviews. The latest sought to put the company on the market, allow them to conduct due diligence and find the highest bidder.

US giant Expedia was already responsible for Wotif’s market share falling over the last year. An earnings update released yesterday for the 2014 financial year confirms the trend has continued over the past six months.

Over the past 12 months, Wotif’s share price had roughly halved in response to softer earnings.

Ripe for consolidation

The online accommodation and airfares business in Australia is ripe for consolidation and others like Webjet will likely come under the microscope as a result of the Wotif transaction.

Webjet recently bulked up with the acquisition of Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai based online travel agency Zuji.

The formerly Fairfax owned site Stayz was sold to US group HomeAway in December last year for a rather generous $220 million.

During its strategic reviews Wotif looked at taking on the role of consolidator, finding a joint venture partner and even thought about a share buyback.

Ultimately the decision reflected what it called the risk and uncertainties of going forward.

It a deal that will also represent a major pay day for its founding investors, Graeme Wood (who just fell off the BRW Rich List) and has about 20 per cent and Andrew Brice who has 15.5 per cent.

Follow us on Twitter @BusinessDay

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Japanese telco giant lobbies Telstra for partnership

Japan’s biggest telecommunications player NTT is lobbying Telstra to become its biggest partner in a push to become a dominant player in Asia.
Nanjing Night Net

Telstra chief executive David Thodey has set Telstra the ambitious goal of reaping around 33 per cent of its net profit and revenues from Asia by 2020 onwards compared to the 3 per cent it currently stands at. Analysts believe this can only be achieved with major acquisitions or partnerships.

NTT Communications ICT chief executive Monte Davis told Fairfax Media that partnering with the Japanese giant was one of the only ways Mr Thodey could achieve his goal due to the lack of takeover options.

His comments come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leads a major trade and diplomatic delegation to Australia on Monday.

NTT is Japan’s version of Telstra – a former government-owned monopoly that is one of the world’s largest telcos with more than 200,000 employees and a market capitalisation of more than $75 billion.

“We have a relationship with the board level with Telstra and I’m trying to sit down with David Thodey specifically to talk about its Asia Pacific plans and how we can work together,” he said. “Telstra seems to be saying it wants to grow and expand with Australian companies overseas and that was NTT’s entire global strategy years ago.

“As long as that’s the model they’re going on it’s fairly easy to leverage the NTT assets, connecting them to Telstra assets and delivering a regional and more global service.”

This could see Telstra connect customers to its networks while using NTT’s data centres around the world, which in turn would cut down on the money Telstra needed to splurge on building and buying assets in Asia.

Telstra has already begun with incumbent telcos in Asian markets. It signed a contract with Telkom Indonesia in January to sell its services in a deal that would see both companies share the resulting profits.

While Telstra could choose to spend billions of dollars buying technology providers and mobile operators throughout Asia, Mr Davis said it was a competitive market where the established players like NTT and Optus-owner SingTel are expanding.

“A strategic partnership with a player that has significant assets in the region is probably the best way for a Telstra to reach that critical mass in that kind of time frame,” he said. “If you’re doing it in a 15-year period then you can build and acquire … because the [established companies] are fairly consolidated players and they’re doing just fine financially and there aren’t many distressed assets.”

Ovum research director David Kennedy said a partnership between NTT and Telstra could be very successful but it was all dependent on the fine print.

“NTT has assets in the Asian region [and] they’ve got a pretty good reputation in Asia but they’re strongest in Japan,” he said. “Regional partnerships are what they’re doing now and it would come down to details like how much access Telstra would have to the Japanese market because that’s what they’d be most interested in.

“If they’re going head to head in many of these markets then you wouldn’t think there are many prospects of a partnership emerging.”

Mr Kennedy said the smarter move for Telstra would be to court Chinese telecommunications giants, which are trying to work out how to expand out of China.

“The only people who I think would be interested in an overarching partnership are companies that don’t have an established position in the region and want one,” he said. “What comes to mind there are players like China Telecom.

“But the other players like BT and AT&T have their own offers and have been in the region for a long time so they’re not really looking for partnerships.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

The season is over for Rosa

Matt Rosa could miss the rest of the season with a pectoral injury.West Coast midfielder Matt Rosa will miss the remainder of the season with a pectoral injury.
Nanjing Night Net

After having scans on Monday, the extent of the injury was revealed, and the wingman will require surgery, likely sometime this week.

Rosa sustained a right pectoral tendon tear in Sunday’s 28-point loss to Sydney, coming off the ground just before three-quarter-time and not returning for the rest of the match.

Unfortunately for West Coast, Jeremy McGovern had struggled to have an impact in the wet conditions and was already subbed out of the contest.

So the Eagles, who trailed the Swans by just 13 points at the last break, were down one rotation for the last term.

As a result, the Swans kicked the first three goals for the quarter and claimed their 11th consecutive win to leap to the top of the AFL ladder.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson said the loss of Rosa didn’t help his team’s chances of winning.

“It didn’t help,” he said.

“It felt like the game was telling us we needed to get our sub on a bit earlier.

“[Sam] Butler came on and had nine possessions and had an impact. Gov [McGovern] had two touches so we thought we made that call. It didn’t help that Rosa hurt himself just before three-quarter-time.

“He is in a bit of strife. We think he has hurt his pectoral muscle. So it will be multiple weeks.”

Rosa has enjoyed arguably the best of his 10 seasons at the Eagles. He played his 150th game a week ago and also recently signed a contract extension for a further two seasons with the Eagles, ignoring temptation to return to Victoria as a free agent.

With the finals now only a very slim hope (the Eagles are in 11th place and 12 points behind eighth place) Simpson concedes that it may be time to start playing some youngsters.

They may not have a choice.

Rosa joins Elliott Yeo (hand), Beau Waters (shoulder), Scott Selwood (foot), Darren Glass (retired) and Mitch Brown (knee) on the sidelines.

Nic Naitanui was a late withdrawal on Sunday due to general soreness and is no certainty to play against Brisbane next weekend.

Josh Kennedy has been offered a one-game ban  after Swan Zak Jones was subbed out from the game early on Sunday with concussion after colliding with him.

The Eagles key forward tucked his shoulder in and chose to bump Jones, but hit him high.

“Two weeks in a row, we have played two teams who probably may play for the premiership [Sydney and Fremantle] and we have challenged them at stages. Good teams respond and both the teams have done it in the past two weeks. They have both pulled away from us,” Simpson said.

“There are areas of our game and personnel we have got to look at, no doubt, because we are in the business of winning.

“I am always looking at what we need and how we go about it, how we need to develop. There are a lot of good players at East Perth, the kids, we may look at that too.”  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Everyone’s a winner!

A crowd of about 400 people turned out to mark six months of fire recovery in a charity football match at Romsey Park on Sunday.
Nanjing Night Net

Hosted by Macedon Ranges Shire Council with assistance from the Victorian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Events Program, the event was an opportunity to thank our emergency services for their work in protecting the community during the February grassfires which swept through the Macedon Ranges.

To the delight of all involved, the match resulted in a draw with five goals, four points apiece to the two teams – Volunteers v The Rest of the World.

AFL veteran, Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico, coached the volunteers team and is pictured at the quarter-time huddle talking strategy with his players.

Midland Express sports reporter and the Highlands FM Sports Wrap team broadcast live at the ground and were joined by comedians and tv presenters, Charlie Pickering and Tom Gleeson (pictured at the desk), who provided special commentary on the day

Midland Expresssports reporter, Chris Yeend, and the Highlands FM Sports Wrap team broadcast live at the ground and were joined by comedians and tv presenters, Charlie Pickering and Tom Gleeson (pictured at the desk), who provided special commentary on the day, while local singer/songwriter, Taylor Sheridan and his band performed at half-time.

Eleven brigades were represented on the day and raised funds for vital equipment. People can still bid on the silent auction on the Macedon Ranges Emergency Alert facebook page or by calling fire recovery officer, Karen Dunstan, on 5422 0217. The auction closes July 28 at 5pm.

AFL veteran, Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico, coached the volunteers team and is pictured at the quarter-time huddle talking strategy with his players.

See a full wrap up in Friday’sMacedon Ranges Guardian.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Nowra’s Steve Dodd the face of NAIDOC Week’s beginningPHOTOS

POB Mathew Goward, WO Colin Watego, (front) Korean War veteran Steve Dodd and ex-navy Glen Luland celebrate the beginning of the 10th NAIDOC week in the Shoalhaven at Shoalhaven City Council chambers on Monday.KoreanWar veteran Steve Dodd represented the opening of NAIDOC week celebrations on Monday.
Nanjing Night Net

Better known within the indigenous community as Mulla Walla (flying fish), Mr Dodd said this year’s celebrations wereimportant to recognise the military contributions and sacrifices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“I wouldn’t miss it [the celebrations],” he said.

The 10th anniversary will celebrate this year’s theme: serving country, centenary and beyond.

Gerry Moore from Habitat Personnel said this year’s celebrations were also a chance for the indigenous community to remember fallen tribal warriors.

“Aboriginal Warriors like Broger who defended Wodi Wodi women and the sacred cedar forests of Kangaroo Valley,” he said.

“Yager,one of our local worriers from the Jervis Bay area … many will not even be aware that such great warriors existed.

“Our people were heroic in combat and served their country and their families proudly as well.”

Mr Moore said NAIDOC week celebratedtheentiretyof Aboriginal culture, achievements and history.

Mayor Joanna Gash raised the Australian flag alongside the Aboriginal flag at the Shoalhaven City Council chambers and thanked everyone for being there.

A barbecue lunch was held in Harry Sawkins Park giving guests the opportunity to share stories and celebrate the beginning ofNAIDOC week activities in the Shoalhaven.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Campbell Newman a ‘Nazi’: Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer has launched another attack on Campbell Newman. Photo: Clive palmer mingles at the Fairfax festival weekend at Palmer coolum resort.28th of June 2014. Photo: Harrison Saragossi Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. Photo: Ken Irwin
Nanjing Night Net

Clive Palmer has labelled Campbell Newman a “Nazi”, a “criminal”, less popular than Hitler, and a “demagogue” in yet another public attack against the Queensland Premier.

Mr Newman, fresh from holidays, attempted to laugh it off.

“I think his comments, well, people will make what they will of them,” he said.

Mr Palmer launched straight into his attack as he entered Parliament House in Canberra with his senators on Monday morning, after an interview with the ABC where he called Mr Newman a “Nazi”.

He showed no remorse.

“He is a Nazi, of course he is a Nazi, he wants the Gestapo,” Mr Palmer said.

“Look at his popularity, he is just below Hitler when he got elected.”

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, who himself is no stranger to verbal combat with Mr Palmer, also tried to shrug off the comments.

“We’ve come to expect that of Clive Palmer,” he said.

“Litigation is Clive Palmer’s hobby, it is not ours. Getting Queensland back on track is what we’re about.”

Mr Palmer and the Queensland government have waged a very public war against each other since the mining magnate quit the Liberal National Party in spectacular fashion in November 2012.

The government said it was forced to stand its ground when Mr Palmer asked for favoured treatment.

In response, Mr Palmer accused the government of being corrupt and started his own political party, which has since become a growing force, with Mr Palmer winning the federal seat of Fairfax from the LNP and three Senate spots.

Palmer United also holds two seats in the Queensland parliament after former LNP MPs Carl Judge and Alex Douglas defected to the party.

But the growing popularity of Mr Palmer and his party has only inflamed tensions between senior government members and the man who wants to bring back the Titanic.

After a policy of ‘no comment’ in response to Palmer questions, Mr Newman broke the floodgates accusing Mr Palmer of attempting to buy his government.

He reiterated the comments several times after and Mr Palmer launched legal action. He added Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney to his litigation list last month, accusing both senior ministers of defaming him.

Mr Seeney turned over documents relating to his office’s dealings with Mr Palmer to the Crime and Corruption Commission, asking it to review the files, but did not make an official complaint.

With the Palmer Party continuing to grow in popularity in Queensland and polls showing it is picking up voters disenfranchised with the LNP government, the animosity between the Mr Palmer and the government shows no signs of simmering down.

While Mr Newman has demurred from commenting as strongly on Mr Palmer has he has in the past, Mr Palmer shows no signs of slowing down.

“I am the only political leader in Queensland standing up to the Queensland Premier as he puts people in jail, as he abuses their rights, as he backdates legislation to get his mates off and he takes corrupt payments from people,” Mr Palmer said.

“He hasn’t sued me, I am suing him, he is going before the Supreme Court, so is Mr Seeney, they don’t like it, they want to abuse their power further and create Queensland as a police state.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Person stabbed outside Myer cosmetics department in Westfield Parramatta

A man has been stabbed to death inside the Westfield shopping centre at Parramatta in Sydney’s west.
Nanjing Night Net

Emergency crews were called to the cosmetics section in the Myer store at 10.30am on Monday following reports of an attack.

Parts of Westfield shopping centre closed after a fatal stabbing at Myer. Photo: Emma Partridge

Police said they found the body of a man inside the shopping centre. Another man was arrested and taken to Parramatta police station where he is assisting with inquiries.

Shopping centre employees said they heard two women screaming: “He’s killing him! He’s killing him!”

Myer employee Bianca Zoratto-Ivanov said a friend of hers saw the stabbing close to the entrance of the store’s cosmetic section.

“He heard a scream, like a man yell,” she said. “He heard it again and then he heard two young women scream: ‘He’s killing him! He’s killing him.’

“That’s when he turned around and saw the incident was taking place. He saw the man facing the store and doing the stabbing motions.”

Ms Zoratto-Ivanov said she knew the employee at Aquila Shoes who hadseen the offender drive a machete into the victim.

#Myer is closed at #Westfield Parramatta as are several other nearby shops. Police guarding scene. @NewsTalk2UEpic.twitter南京夜网/JqDeVmOTWR

— Michelle Taverniti (@M_Taverniti) July 7, 2014This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Royal Commission: Scone trophy named after convicted coach until 2014

THE Scone Swimming Club continued awarding a trophy named for a formercoach convicted of indecently assaulting young swimmers in the 1980suntil one of his victims contacted it this year and asked it to stop,the Royal Commission has heard.
Nanjing Night Net

The victim, referred to as “AEB”, told the commission on Mondaymorning, it made her “nauseous” to learn the Stephen Roserbreaststroke award had been given out to children, even after he wasconvicted in 1994 of indecent assault and for committing acts ofindecency against a child, relating to her and another complainant.

The Royal Commission’s 15th case study of institutional responses tochild sexual abuse, which entails a public hearing that began inSydney on Monday, is focusing on the sport of swimming and responsesto allegations against three coaches.

Roser was the coach at Scone between 1985 and 1987.

He was AEB’s coach in the summer of 1985-1986 and at a trainingsession that December wanted her to try a new swimming “technique” toimprove her breaststroke.

Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC told that Roserinstructed AEB, then aged 13, to float stomach-down in front of him.

He was supporting her then moved his hands to her inner thighs and put his fingers inside her swimmers.

She was abused another three times by Roser, who, when convicted, wasordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

In her evidence, AEB told of the depression and anxiety she sufferedas a result of the abuse, which she reported to police in 1993.

She wanted to tell her story so that it was understood abuse occurred”not only in the big institutions but the small institutions like theScone swimming club”.

This year, she emailed the club about Roser’s convictions and askedthem to change the name of the breaststroke trophy.

About three days later it replied that it had held an extraordinarymeeting and resolved to remove Roser’s name from the club book.

Ms Furness said current club president Joanne Wright was expected togive evidence that the club was not aware of Roser’s convictions untilAEB contacted it.

Ms Furness also said the club did not put a child sexual abuse policyin place until June 3 this year, following AEB’s correspondence andinquiries from the commission.