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How Mike Smith learnt to love the social media bomb

ANZ's new journalism venture Blue Notes is only a couple of days old, but the banks chief executive Mike Smith has already gone rogue. He posted an article on Linkedin titled 'How I became a social media believer and why banking's future is digital'.

Do we detect a nod to Stanley Kubrick's 40 year old classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb?

In the blog, Smith talks of how ANZ director Greg Clark encouraged him to organise an ANZ board pilgrimage to the US west coast tech gods Google, Cisco, Apple and LinkedIn.

''It was a bit of 'light bulb' moment. It was already clear to me that digital financial solutions were redefining our business,'' says Smith.

''What wasn't quite so clear to me – apart from observing my children with mild amusement – was that social media had become completely main stream and was driving a fundamental shift in the way people find and consume information, and how they expect organisations like ANZ to communicate.''

Smith attests he is now championing ANZ's move to become a socially-enabled enterprise - as opposed to socially inept one we presume - and he even plugged the ANZ service he had spurned.


''As a step in addressing this need, we have launched our own digital publication for news, insight and opinion called BlueNotes. It covers the economy, financial services, investment and society from both within ANZ and from experts outside the bank and provides great thought-leadership content to build our engagement with the social web.''

His article showed up on BlueNotes a day after its LinkedIn debut.

Kohler wearing two hats

Smith is not the only exec who appears to have gone rogue.

CBD couldn't help but notice a wonderful column by Alan Kohler pop up on The Conversation during the week: 'Superannuation is too costly, so bill me'.

It lead us to wonder what restraints have been put on him by new employer, News Corp, which recently paid $30 million for his businesses which include Business Spectator and the Eureka Report.

Kohler assures us that he is not circumventing the new paywall designed to keep Business Spectator afloat.

His column on The Conversation was posted under his academic hat as Adjunct Professor of Business at Victoria University. Kohler says he promised to provide two columns a year to The Conversation as part of his academic role and News Corp's local minders did not object to the modest foray outside of its tent.

Kohler also reminded CBD ''not everything I do on Business Spectator is behind the paywall''.

Hempton gets Posterised

Continuing the warped journalism theme of the column, Bronte Capital's John Hempton received the dubious distinction of being on the receiving end of Rupert Murdoch's fair-and-balanced rag the New York Post.

The source of contention appears to be nutritional supplements spruiker, Herbalife, and the controversial $US1 billion short position taken by US fundie, Bill Ackman.

Hempton's Bronte Capital is a fan of Herbalife and gained prominence with its defence of the business against the campaign being waged by Ackman. Its long position on Herbalife came at a cost recently when the company's shares dived after the US Federal Trade Commission announced it is investigating Herbalife last month.

Hempton's blog and Twitter feud with New York Post reporter, Michelle Celarier, ensured it did not go unnoticed.

''An obscure Australian hedge fund manager who last year became a media darling with his acerbic attacks on Bill Ackman's $1 billion Herbalife short is now sobbing to his investors about losing money,'' she reported - if that is the right term - in the Post.

''Hempton has been wallowing in self-pity, said sources familiar with the hedgie. Hempton, they said, feels humiliated by Ackman's recent successes given that Hempton — who runs a $46 million fund in the US — spent last year adamantly professing that the activist billionaire was 'wrong','' she wrote.

It was less colourful than her language on Twitter anyway where Celarier tweeted Hempton was "full of sh-t as usual" when he questioned whether she had possession of potentially market sensitive documents on Herbalife.

CBD rates it as the most bizarre media spray against a fundie since James Packer's parrot, Alan Jones, launched a radio-controlled attack on Perpetual's Matt Williams in 2012. Apparently he was incensed with the fund manager's profit decline.

It had nothing to do with Williams refusing to support Packer's bid to roll Echo Entertainment's chairman, John Story.

Hempton did not want to comment on the Post article, so the final word should go to Bronte Capital's recent investor update.

''There is good stuff going on at Bronte and one day it will show it in returns. Until then it is just getting positions right most of the time and managing the risk for the times we are wrong.''

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