Apple Sales International’s plummeting Irish tax rate

When I wrote my  Financial Review piece on how $A8.9 billion of Apple’s Australian sales revenue from 2002-2013 ended up as profit with Apple Sales International, I hadn’t noticed that Apple pays more tax in Australia than it pays in Ireland.

In Ireland, from 2002 to 2011, Apple Sales International reported $US 45.6 billion profit, on which it paid $US63.2 million tax. Over the decade the tax rate didn’t just drop. It broke the sound barrier on the way down. These are ASI’s year by year earnings over the decade: Continue reading

Confessions of a conspiracy theorist

(Please don’t try this at home)


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Journalists are often accused of being obsessive, irresponsible, badly supervised, out of control, obsessive again, prone to ka-razy conspiracy theories, ornery, really bad dressers, mouth breathers, showing poor table manners and did I mention something about wretched conspiracists?

Into every life a little criticism must fall. For example in my case here, here and here from News Corp. Also behind the News Corp paywall, here and here. And that’s just in the last week, triggered by this modest effort by me on page 8 of the AFR. Continue reading

How I started following Rupert Murdoch

REALLY bad career moves? I’ve got it completely covered.

Decyphering Rupert Murdoch is like doing a cryptic crossword. You either get this stuff or you don’t. His influence on world media, and the power that gives him, is so pervasive that keeping track of his latest moves is a legitimate, and I believe important, exercise. It’s a job, it’s a story, it’s nothing personal. But in such a pursuit, one thing is clear: you need to put your own personal history clearly on the table.

I almost worked for Rupert Murdoch. For ten minutes I regarded myself as virtually on the staff. Continue reading

Rupert’s sweetest deal of all was at his family’s expense

Murdoch biographers don’t ever get into this stuff, but the biggest threat to Rupert Murdoch’s control of News Corp was always his family. Sir Keith Murdoch left his son only 28 per cent of Cruden Investments, the holding company for the family’s holding in News Limited. Today the family holding is worth $US11.7 billion, but Rupert holds all of it. He’s done some peachy deals in his time, but none as good as the ones he did with his sisters. I wrote this 20 years ago, and it remains unexplored territory. (The super shares referred to here became News Corp’s limited-voting A stock.) Note the crazy suggestion in the intro that Murdoch at 62 was “in the last decade of his working life”. What was I thinking? It clearly speaks of inadequate levels of gin. Continue reading

A footnote on Australia’s role in Sri Lanka’s war

In September 2007 I wrote about an unreported naval battle halfway between Sir Lanka and the Cocos Islands, which seemed a little mysterious. The Sri Lankan navy only had five offshore patrol boats. How did they know to amass sufficient force to intercept a four-ship Sea Tiger convoy 1100 kilometers from home? Their accurate intelligence suggested a US and possibly an Australian role. In any case, 18 months later the Tigers were finished as a fighting force. Continue reading

How to read Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter feed

Duchessing Rupert

Rupert Murdoch’s tweets have an almost irresistible appeal. He’s indestructible. He shrugs off the hundreds of hostile slaps he gets for much of his Twitter feed, the same way he has ignored his critics for six decades. Like him or hate him you have to admit: he’s perky. And of course really wacky. The man who built the world’s most powerful media empire, and he thinks things like that? And hey, now he’s on Tumblr, doing kooky things all over the world!

There’s a rich vein of comedic material in @rupertmurdoch—probably a whole sitcom series. But that’s not the only way to read Rupert Murdoch on Twitter. 

It’s a micro-blog, and his 750-odd Tweets provide snapshots for what’s on Murdoch’s mind.

More specifically, his Tweets are a record of the last person that Murdoch has been talking to—it just gets recycled and blurted out. The tweets are also an indicator, for journalists who work for the most famously interventionist media proprietor on the planet, of just what the boss might be thinking about.

Put those two things together and you may glimpse the process where people gain Rupert Murdoch’s ear, and how that message can be re-broadcast around the world. Continue reading