Home World Business Ignore performance reviews, PR and ditch HR: Words of wisdom from Computershare...

Ignore performance reviews, PR and ditch HR: Words of wisdom from Computershare founder Chris Morris

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Computershare founder, Chris Morris, may have let go of the reins at the multibillion-dollar global registry group, but he obviously has not forgotten the golden rules which cemented his fortune.

Speaking at a business forum in Port Douglas earlier this year, the local press reported on Morris’ pearls of wisdom which include never have an HR department, forget annual reviews, and ignore PR people. 

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“Managers should manage people,” he told CBD.

And don’t get him started on PR types who advise our corporate titans – and politicians – to never admit to any weakness or mistake: “Don’t you just wish they would admit it sometimes,” he said of our current batch of pollies.  

CFOs beware. When Chris Morris buys a business you'll be one of the first people out the door. CFOs beware. When Chris Morris buys a business you’ll be one of the first people out the door. Photo: Josh Robenstone

But he gets really ruthless when it comes to the humble bean counters. 

“It has also been my belief that when I buy a business, I immediately replace the chief financial officer,” he told the forum – which is handy news for any number crunchers at the businesses he is setting his sights on.

This recently included Jupiters Casino in Townsville, which is the hub of the massive tourism empire he is building. 

The casino, and resort island Orpheus, are just two of the projects in far north Queensland that have helped soak up a considerable portion of the fortune he built at Computershare.  

Canning Fok did not duck anything at Friday's Hutchison Telecom shareholder meeting. Canning Fok did not duck anything at Friday’s Hutchison Telecom shareholder meeting. Photo: Churchill Yik

The properties faced a problem more formidable than pesky HR and PR types when Cyclone Debbie came calling. 

“We were very lucky,” said Morris. “At one stage it was due to come straight over Orpheus and the casino, which was a building site,” he told CBD. 

The Orpheus Island resort in Queensland. The Orpheus Island resort in Queensland. 

A direct hit by the cyclone would have hurt. The casino is undergoing a $50 million refurbishment that won’t be finished until Christmas.

Morris sold another $28 million worth of his Computershare stock in March this year to fund the new swimming pools and convention centre that will help rejuvenate the business. 

It’s not the only stroke of luck for Morris. He said the casino does not rely on Chinese high rollers which would make it one of the few which remain unaffected by James Packer‘s woes in China where Crown Resort employees have been detained by the local authorities. 

Morris reported things are going well at another interesting business he is backing, Choovie. 

It is an app with an algorithm that will introduce dynamic pricing to the world of cinema tickets. The basic idea is that most cinema seats fail to find bums and it is a lost opportunity for operators, given the high fixed costs and the fact that every dollar of revenue falls to the bottom line. 

“Because cinemas are only 16 per cent full, there’s not going to be a lot of surge pricing,” said co-founder Shane Thatcher. “Mostly, prices are going to fall.”

The app launched in April and everyone loves it and the company is now doing bigger trials of the service, said Morris. 

Crank call 

Shareholder meetings can prove to be a tough day at the office for many ASX boards. You never know what sort of gnarly question will be lobbed from the floor. 

So, you’ve got to hand it to Hutchison Telecom chairman, Canning Fok, who did not duck anything at Friday’s shareholder meeting – including some spiky submissions handed in prior to the meeting.  

One investor dared to ask when this sorry mobile joint venture between Hutchison and Vodafone might actually turn a profit. 

Fok pointed out that neither company provided earnings forecasts, or, in their case – loss forecasts. But he did point out that “we expect the loss position to continue to improve”. 

Fok then referred to a second submission that was more of comment on the hapless companies’ performance “but I am happy to address it,” he added.

“Hutchison is clearly not going to be successful, so I suggest the company be sold and the shareholders get the proceeds. It seems to me that the only people getting anything out of the company are greedy incompetent directors,” said the submission.

“HTAL supports VHA’s strategy, and is pleased with its growth and performance. In relation to director remuneration, only two out of eight directors receive directors fees,” said the ever professional Fok.    

Follow CBD on Twitter. Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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