Sun, sea and sail lures investor
- 19 February 2003

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The money that wasn't out on the water in Auckland on Monday was inside the Hilton Hotel conference venue.

More than 280 delegates to Investment Regatta 2003 rubbed shoulders and heard speakers support the 50 reasons Invest New Zealand has given for why they should help funnel investment bucks into New Zealand business.

All except for one, that is.

Kevin Roberts, the fervent Kiwi who heads Saatchi and Saatchi Ideas Company, gave them a 51st.

Describing New Zealanders as deviants, in the sense that they don't like rules, let alone following them, Roberts espoused his "Edge Theory".

"The return on investment (in NZ) is unbeatable edge - the convergence of attitude, location, agility, risk taking and velocity," the ebullient Roberts said, urging the investors in the audience to step back from spread sheet mentality.

Minister of Economic, Industrial and Regional Development Jim Anderton said there was no reason why New Zealand could not grow at an average rate of above 4% for the next eight years.

"The optimism in New Zealand is better than anything I have seen in the past 40 years," he said.

And unlike the conclusions in a recent NZIER report, Anderton believes the domestic economy is not moving at anywhere near "full steam".

He promised the current government would work through compliance problems that it was presented with and it would make the application of Resource Management Act standards more consistent throughout the country.

Advice to New Zealand firms came from a bevy of international speakers, including Hermann Hauser who was a co-founder of Acorn Computers, and now leads Cambridge University's answer to Silicon Valley.

Hauser, who is married to a Kiwi and spends considerable time here too, says he hopes the investment sector has bottomed after the bubble and telco sector woes and that investment can start heading toward the intrinsic value of companies because of the cash flow they can generate.

There was no surrogate for profit, he said.

But Hauer warned it sometimes took up to seven years for a sector to get back to the peak it had experienced. And he said today's environment meant venture capitalists had gone back to growing a company for five to seven years before exiting.

NZ companies must play globally and have an ambition to dominate a sector, Hauser said.