by Greg Bright
Asset consultants hate this, but members love it. It’s when single-industry funds invest back in their own industries. Cbus has been doing it, famously, for years in property, as has Media Super, less famously, in film and TV production. Media Super has now passed $200 million in film and TV investments.
This little milestone means a lot more than the Government and regulator appear to understand. Media Super, which started life in 1987 as JUST Super after the birth of “Award Super” a year earlier, has been challenging the consensus over the last 31 years that “scale” is all that matters. With $5 billion under management, the fund can both satisfy member peculiarities, such as investing back into its industry, and take on its bigger competitors with performance. The 7.24 per cent annualised return to May this year for the Media Super default option over 10 years puts the fund in the top 10 of all funds, according to the SuperRatings annual survey.
But it’s not just about returns, which tend to come and go. And while the asset consultants are correct in theory – investing in your own industry increases the risks if that industry goes into decline – members still like to see their super fund caring about their industry. In an era when investors clearly wonder who they can trust, exacerbated by revelations from the Royal Commission, industry super funds are looking increasingly good by comparison with other financial services organisations. Even small-to-medium-sized ones look good – APRA please take note.
Media Super has again increased its support for local film and television production at a time when tax-incentivised support is on the wane. The latest investment is Fulcrum Media Finance’s cash-flow lending on the Goalpost Pictures feature film “I Am Woman”, the story of Helen Reddy, which takes Media Super’s total lending for Australian film and television productions past $200 million.
Graeme Russell, Media Super chief executive, announced at the Australian Screen Awards a further increase in the fund’s revolving Australian film and television financing fund, to $80 million. The revolving loan facility, used to cash-flow the ‘Producer Offset’ and ‘PDV Offset’ tax rebates and provide pre-sale advance loans, is managed through an eight-year partnership with Fulcrum Media Finance
Russell said: “In the 30 years the fund has worked with members in the entertainment and arts industries a lot has changed, but one thing certainly hasn’t – Aussies are a talented bunch with amazing stories to tell.
“We have a rich history of story-telling in this country, but it’s always been a challenge to get these stories onto our screens, so we’re extremely proud that we’re able to support our industry to make this happen,” he said.
Since 2010, Media Super’s film and TV production loan fund has earned its members an average return of 6.4 per cent a year.
Note: The author has been a contributing employer, member, and occasional critic of Media Super since the fund’s inception.