Perth, as anyone with the merest scintilla of scientific awareness will know, is the biotechnology capital of the world.
It is here, amid the slew of junior mineral explorers, that dozens of high-technology companies are domiciled.
Lest readers be deluded by the notion that most ASX companies might be headquartered in Sydney or Melbourne, it is not so. Here are their homes, state by state: Adelaide, 86; Brisbane, 198; Melbourne (including Tasmania), 366; Sydney, 710; and Perth, 866.
A great deal of these West Australian entities – if they are not in the swing of appointing a voluntary administrator to backdoor-list another exciting opportunity into a gutted shell – are poised for a major breakthrough.
Some stand at the cusp of a great mineral discovery, others a giant leap of technology. And we are proud today to share one story that we have personally followed for many years; a company which has discovered a cure for humanity’s greatest affliction … pain.
We speak of Pharmanet Ltd which announced six years ago, to jubilant accolades by its stock price, that it was on the verge of a cure for none other than pain itself. At the time, there was some confusion as to whether this might have included all pain, both mental trauma and broken bone pain.
That has since been clarified. Six years later, in the wake of umpteen quick-fire stock rallies, executive options exercises, capital raisings and even a “major international forum” – attended exclusively by the Pharmanet scientific team – we have an actual product about to hit an actual market, which is not the stock market.
We applaud the vision of the company’s executive chairman, the mining entrepreneur John Palermo, for persevering with his cure for pain. The world applauds him.
After $25 million of accumulated losses – much of it through consultants’ fees and directors’ benefits and virtually nothing in R&D – the topical cream Thermalife is soon to hit pharmacy shelves.
The cure has been narrowed down from universal pain to “temporary relief of muscular and arthritic pain”. Nonetheless, your humble essayist is in a special position to conduct Phase III Clinical Trials of his own as he suffers from arthritis of the pointer finger. This is true, and we will report the findings.
In developing a product which is visible with the human eye, Palermo has confounded the critics. Perth really is the citadel of scientific achievement, not just a horror show of zombie phoenix companies staggering about with their arms out trying to drink the blood of minority shareholders.
As Europe sank further this week – Spain is the latest to encounter a sharp blow-out in bond yields – there was an interesting piece in The Economist which questioned whether aliens were buying Louis Vuitton handbags.
The article looked at the biggest global trade imbalance of all, that is, the current account surplus which planet Earth appeared to be running with little green importers elsewhere in the solar system.
“In theory, countries’ current-account balances should all sum to zero because one country’s export is another’s import. However, if you add up all countries’ reported current-account transactions, the world exported $331 billion more than it imported in 2010, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook,” the article read.
Was it that China’s surplus was overstated, America’s deficit understated perhaps? Why had there been a persistent current account deficit for the three decades until 2005?
Was the imbalance due to the explosion in vertically-integrated multinationals and their intra-company cross-border trades? Or to tax evasion, mismeasurement of services income, or transfer pricing?
Official statistics were more reliable in developed nations, said The Economist, “…dodgy statistics lead to policy mistakes. Governments should clean the figures up.”
Indeed, trustworthy policy and information is critical to a properly functioning democracy, and to efficient markets.
And so it was that your scribe was dumbfounded this week to find that the Reserve Bank, perhaps in cahoots with Treasury (they are slow to respond to questions), has been deleting information from the public database.
We had stumbled over this culling while looking into another story. “Details of (taxpayer-guaranteed program) are removed when requested by the relevant financial institution,” a RBA spokesman said.
We are talking about a public scheme of which the Reserve Bank is scheme administrator. Apparently a private institution, a bank in this case, can ask a government agency to remove public information and the public servants simply carry out the request.
It was the ante-penultimate week of pay season and, if you thought you’d heard it all, think again. Bluescope Steel director Dianne Grady told the annual meeting the law was to blame for executive bonuses.
Bluescope – which blew a billion dollars off its bottom line, canned its dividend, suffered a 40 per cent share price fall, put its hand out for $180 million in taxpayer support, sacked a thousand workers and still splashed $3.1 million on executive bonuses – copped a 39 per cent vote against its remuneration report on Thursday.
But executives had “worn the pain”, she said. Things were “bleak”, “tough”, “a perfect storm”. The managers might leave. “It was in the best interests of the company and by law directors have to act in the best interests of the company.”
Grady and her chairman Graham Kraehe – who also backed up with a stout plea on pay – proved again that shame is no regulator of corporate behaviour.