AMP’s contemporary history was written down in all its glory and shame on the pages of Australian Financial Review from the time the mast top was founded in August 1951.
That Financial review published a cover photo of AMP’s new building at Circular Quay when it opened in 1962. The project was groundbreaking because it put an end to the Sydney CBD’s height limits.
When AMP bought a 51 percent stake in Stanbroke Pastoral Company in September 1964, it was sprayed across the front page, and AMP chairman CG Crane said it was a further reflection of AMP’s desire to support projects that are fundamental to the growth of the Australian economy.
In May 1965 became Financial review reported Crane’s remarks at AMP’s annual meeting, saying that AMP’s support for bauxite mining and gas extraction was in the interests of policyholders and Australia.
It was also the largest single buyer of government and semi-government bonds, duly noted in Financial review articles in the 1960s.
AMP’s transition to unlisted investments, which precedes similar initiatives by industrial superfunds by more than three decades, was in part in response to its dominance of public sector stock registers.
Observers in recent times have noticed the common board positions between AMP and the companies it invested in. In fact, a CEO was once called to the board to explain why he had sold shares in a company affiliated with the board.
Chanticleer was the first business column to apply forensic analysis to AMP’s widespread power and influence, including a column published in June 1976 that examined AMP’s 10 percent ownership of 20 of the largest listed companies.
Blow from mandatory super
This resonates with the debate that is going on at the moment, with Liberal MP and House Finance Committee Chairman Tim Wilson running a study on major superheroes’ concentration of ownership of listed shares.
AMP’s strategic advantage was its nationwide network of agents selling retirement savings and protection to society. It was a distribution rather than a product capacity.
The introduction of mandatory retirement in the early 1980s shifted the flow of retirement savings away from voluntary life insurance to standard super funds.
It is ironic that the diminished influence of Australia’s greatest mutual is due to the emergence of a new mutual race.
Other legislative measures over the last decade, such as the best interest tax, have had a drastic impact on the AMP network.
AMP’s fortunes were already declining before it was transformed and listed on the stock market. But its poor choice of CEOs, clumsily carried out expansion moves abroad and lots of mishaps led to numerous purges of board and management.
Between 2002 and 2005, a board of directors led by Peter Willcox and a management team led by CEO Andrew Mohl laid out a strategy to turn the company around, including the sale of assets such as Pearl Insurance and global investment firm Henderson.
The strategy recognized the power of the AMP brand and the inability of others to copy the network of community-based planners.
But AMP’s failure to recognize the importance of independent advice and the damage to its business from the Royal Hayne Commission contributed to an existential crisis.
After receiving the last $ 524 million for the sale of AMP Life to Resolution Life, AMP will have raised $ 3 billion for a company valued at between $ 8 and $ 9 billion in 2011 when AMP took over the Australian operation of AXA Asia Pacific (formerly arch-rival National Mutual).
New CEO Alexis George will take heart from the nearly 9 percent jump in the stock price on Wednesday. Once all asset sales have been completed, she will have a strong balance sheet and a chance to rebuild in banking, consulting and property and infrastructure management.