Anglo American will hold a results presentation for analysts next week, but when ZA Confidential requested the details, we were told these events are no longer open to the media. There will be an opportunity to dial in to a briefing, but that is hardly the same. I find analyst briefings useful not just for the content, but for the opportunity to interact with various players. It also helps if there is a glass of the red stuff to sustain me though the afternoon. So what should we make of Anglo American’s media ban? ZA Confidential sought the views of some of our experts….
Caxton Professor of Journalism at Wits Anton Harber:
It seems inappropriate for a public company to limit media access to an event of such importance, particularly since much of the company’s communication with its shareholders and other stakeholders will come through journalists. Companies will be quick to complain if journalists don’t understand or get something wrong, but slow to accommodate their need to be present to learn more. Access at such events is not just about hearing the words; it is also about feeling the mood, hearing the tone, watching the body language and interchanges, and getting a chance to pick up nuances and subtleties on the sidelines. Preventing this is a disservice to all the parties involved and very concerning.
Founding editor of Engineering News and Mining weekly Martin Creamer:
I have always attended the presentations and have always found them useful. It will be a great pity not to have the networking opportunity.
Chris Gilmour from Absa Investments (a former Financial Mail journalist):
You have touched on a pet subject of mine. When I was an honest journalist at the FM, I often found myself excluded from briefings that were attended by analysts. But in recent years, most companies have softened their approach and let journalists and analysts alike attend at will. Some have separate briefings for each category. I have never quite understood why companies do this. I have tended to interpret it as follows; corporate top management tends to feel that they have a better rapport with analysts than with journos, from the perspective that analysts can be "controlled" while journos can’t. Analysts often enfeeble their comments about companies if their corporate finance divisions have links with those companies. Journalists, on the other hand, tend to tell it like it is. Excluding journos is, in my opinion, a counter-productive idea. Journos are sensitive people (no laughing please) and often feel aggrieved when excluded or demoted to a webcast. This in turn can sometimes colour a journo’s view of a company, transforming it from objective into something less so. A better approach, in my opinion, is to embrace journalists as fully as possible and never hold back on non-price-sensitive information. Companies perceived as transparent tend to be treated professionally by journalists.
Simon Brown from justonelap.com, and TV Business Presenter:
Restricting media from results presentations only makes one wonder what is being hidden? Sure a webcast is available but that is poor second cousin to a face to face presentation- as one is unable to read body language, gauge conviction nor ask unhindered questions.
Journalist of the year Jan de Lange:
It is extremely useful to hear the questions from analysts and fund managers and the responses from management. These issues are often much more technical and complex than our own. The opportunity to discuss the issues with the person who asks the questions after the Q&A session is very valuable.
Head of News at Power fm Benedicta Dube:
At face value it looks like an ill-advised and ill-conceived decision. Not only does it handicap the journalists who are reporting on the results, but it also limits the company’s ability to network personally with the journalists covering their industry. One would want to understand the logic applied and the reasoning behind the decision.
AECI’s Investor and Media Relations Executive Fulvia Putero:
Information on matters such as the Company’s results is in the public domain once released.
The media has a role to play in terms of disseminating this information to, and interpreting it for, stakeholders. The relationship between the Company and any representative or section of the media must be built on mutual respect and responsibility. The media are invited to AECI presentations on the basis that such a relationship is acknowledged and accepted by both parties.
On the whole, this has always worked well to mutual benefit.
Anglo American is often perceived as remote and arrogant, wishing to remain distant from its ZA roots. I wonder why?
Update: Have received an invitation to a “wire/media” phone-in on Monday morning.
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