Andrew Heathcote Rich Lists editor

Andrew is BRW's Rich lists editor and is responsible for the Rich 200 and Young Rich flagship issues. He also reports on matters relating to wealth and investment for BRW and The Australian Financial Review.

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How the Rich 200 invest: Clive Palmer

Published 29 November 2012 05:13, Updated 26 January 2013 22:17

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Clive Palmer is happy to do whatever is necessary to protect his most lucrative investment deals. Last week, a dispute with his Chinese partners and mine developers CITIC Pacific was elevated to the courts.

The deal is highly advantageous to Palmer and he is working hard to keep it that way.

Palmer’s long history in attracting and managing Chinese investors offers lessons to other entrepreneurs looking for customers, manufacturing capabilities or financing. Here are some of them:

Be patient and persevere: Don’t expect success in China to come easily. Palmer has been building relationships with Chinese business interests since the 1980s.

Favour face-to-face contact: When a contact in China wants to talk, get on a plane. This is, of course, easier when you have your own fleet of private jets but non-billionaires should also seek to hold as many face-to-face discussions as possible.

Keep the same staff: Many of Clive Palmer’s key executives have known him for decades. His legal director, Geoff Smith, went to primary school with Palmer and the general manager of his Queensland Nickel refinery, Ian Ferguson, gave him his first job in real estate. Staffing continuity is always important, especially when dealing with foreign partners.

Give as good as you get: Ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” before forming joint ventures or other business relationships with foreign investors or partners. Unless there is mutual benefit, they won’t last.

Get it in writing: Palmer’s latest dispute involves debate about whether royalties are due once mining starts or once the iron ore is shipped. Avoid disputes by ensuring everyone understands their obligations.

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