ACBA: 2009 Business Excellence in Greater China

The celebration of Australian business excellence at a December awards ceremony in Beijing demonstrated that global financial crisis or not, China was the place to be doing business in 2009 writes Sophie Loras.

 Celebrating with much fanfare the 2009 Australia China Business Awards in Beijing in December seemed the perfect way to cap off a tumultuous past 12 months for the Australian business community in China. As the more than 200 guests sat down to a four course meal of Australian Wagyu beef, Adelaide lobster and Victorian wines while enjoying an intimate live interview between ABC chief China correspondent, Stephen  McDonell and acclaimed Australian actor Jack Thompson, the woes of the global financial crisis seemed already well in the past.
For the 21 finalists at the 2009 ACBA, the past 12 months had represented enormous business opportunities in China and the evening was a celebration of the resounding successes enjoyed by those businesses throughout the past year despite the economic downturn.


Taking out the top award of the night – the Business Excellence Award for a business with more than 100 employees – was ANZ which in 2009 became the first Australian bank to offer both local and foreign currency banking capabilities in Mainland China. The bank, which also holds a 19.9 percent stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank and a 20 percent stake in the Bank of Tianjin, was praised for the critical steps it has taken to increase its presence in the Asia Pacific region – especially China.
Christine Ip, ANZ’s CEO China said the country remained a strategically important market for the business as it continued to aspire to becoming a super regional bank in the Asia Pacific region.
“ANZ has had a continuous presence in China for more than 20 years, and we will continue to invest in the region’s growth by working towards obtaining local incorporation in 2010 to enable the expansion of the branch network to offer a broader range of banking products and more convenient services to our customers,” Ms Ip said.
“We are pleased to win the 2009 AustCham Australia-China Business Awards, which recognises our investment in, and endeavours for, growth in the China market during the past 12 months.”
Other contenders in the top category included Elders Limited which in 2009 exported 20,000 predominantly Australian and New Zealand dairy cows to China – a sales increase of almost 3000 percent over the previous year. Elders China business also enjoyed 95 percent growth in sales revenue of car seats through its automotive subsidiary, Futuris, and 21 percent growth in its Fine Food arm which contributed to helping the company offset commodity price falls in its wool and grain businesses.
Other finalists were: Bovis Lend Lease, which has the A$49.15 million contract to provide construction, exhibition and technical operations for Australia’s pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo; Australian multidisciplinary design practice HASSELL which uses principles of sustainability to underpin all its projects in China; project management company Hooker Cochram whose 17-year background in China covers the niche markets of pharmaceutical, microelectronics, laboratory and medical facilities; and Sensis, Telstra’s wholly owned subsidiary responsible for managing Telstra’s business portfolio in China including several of China’s leading online IT and auto websites.



Winner of the Business Excellence Award for a company with less than 100 employees was Spaceframe China. The company has more than 25 years experience in industrial construction in China, providing design build solutions to both foreign and local enterprises. Spaceframe was praised by the judging panel for its strong commitment to resources on the ground in China as well as making significant changes to its business model over the past 12 months to counter the effects of the global financial crisis. The judges commented on Spaceframe’s low staff turnover and a reputation which has seen it pick up additional contracts from China-based clients returning to their home countries.


Western Australian-based Galaxy Resources took out the Business Entrepreneurial Award for its value added services in not only the mining of lithium at its Mt Cattlin mine in Australia, but the on sourcing of the raw materials to its lithium carbonate plant in Jiangsu province, China.
“There are other people looking at what Galaxy are doing – but Galaxy are the ones who are actually doing it,” said Alan Morrell, Chair of the ACBA:2009 judging panel and Austrade Senior Trade Commissioner in Beijing.
Galaxy estimates that by 2010, its Mt Cattlin mine will be the world’s second largest hard rock producer of lithium and, through the development of its value adding lithium carbonate plant in Jiangsu, will be the largest and lowest cost lithium producer in China.
Lithium concentrate and lithium carbonate materials are forecast to be in short supply as future demand for lithium batteries – especially in battery operated cars – increases due to advances in long life batteries, more sophisticated electronics including mobile phones and computers and a global move away from fossil-fuelled sources of energy. Collecting the award in Beijing, Galaxy’s General Manager Marketing, Mr Anand Sheth, said the company was “immensely proud and honoured to be recognised for its effort in building a downstream business relationship with China.”


The 2009 business innovation award went to Telstra subsidiary, CSL. Established in 1983, CSL was Hong Kong’s first mobile operator and remains the island’s leading mobile network. CSL operates services through its three brands: 1010, One2Free and New World Mobility and in 2009, launched its world class Next G network, a commercial mobile broadband network capable of download speeds of up to 21Mbps and Hong Kong’s leading roaming operator providing international multi-media connectivity with over 470 global mobile operators.
CSL was commended by the judging panel for its technological expertise and work with the Hong Kong government to provide Hong Kong’s widest broadband coverage as well as its partnership with Shenzhen-based telecom equipment provider ZTE. CSL’s all IP network allows all data to be handled through the one portal and has ideally positioned the company to upgrade to 4G technology.
“They are positioning themselves well ahead of the game in the Hong Kong market,” said Mr Morrell of CSL’s win. “It is a fascinating company in how they’re using their corporate products, supporting the average consumer and using technology to get ahead in an incredibly competitive market.”

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Sino Gold’s Community Development Programme at work. The 2009 Sustainable Development Award went to Sino Gold for its commitment to sustainable development programmes. Sydney-based Sino Gold is the largest international gold miner in China and operates the Jinfeng and White Mountain gold mines in Guizhou and Jilin provinces and is currently developing the high-grade Eastern Dragon deposit in Heilongjiang province and Beyinhar Project in Inner Mongolia.
In 2007 Sino Gold initiated its first community development programme at its Jinfeng operation – the first of any mining company in China. In 2009, similar programs were rolled out at projects in Jilin and Heilongjiang. Since 2002, Sino Gold has invested RMB65 million (A$10 million) into its Community Development programme which includes education and literacy, teacher training, infrastructure construction, community vocational training, energy resources and environment projects and study tours. Sino Gold also has a five-year commitment with RIAP of Sydney University and the Guizhou Environmental Protection Bureau for sustainable development training for Guizhou public servants. These are considered industry firsts in China and Sino Gold believes it has established a new model of interaction between a mining operation and its surrounding stakeholder communities.
The success of Sino Gold’s community development programme was deemed by the ACBA judging panel to demonstrate the benefits of what an Australian resources company can bring to China.


When Australians Mat Ryan and Frank Li sat down for a couple of beers in a Shanghai living room in 2007 and contemplated the potential for imported Australian lagers to China, little did they know that within three years their newly formed company, Just Beer, would have annual turnover of RMB3 million (A$480,000).
Just Beer, whose portfolio in China includes Fosters, Crown Lager, Pure Blonde, VB, Cascade, Redbacks and James Boags is the 2009 winner of the Business Promotion Award. Moving from a distributor of Australian beers to the mainly Australian expatriate community in Shanghai, the company has successfully segmented the Chinese market, distributing to 20 cities across China (in regions as far away as western Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces) while also looking at other segments of the Chinese market such as Chinese restaurants and KTV clubs.
“It’s very clear that they are no longer about moving boxes of beer, but about brand awareness [for Australian beer] in the Chinese market,” says Mr Morrell.
One of Just Beer’s most successful brands is VB which is being positioned against China’s popular Tsingdao Gold Label. Just Beer is now looking at assisting other Australian products in the alcohol and F&B sectors to break into the China market using their platform and infrastructure.



For the first time, a People’s Choice Award was introduced allowing the public to vote online for their favourite finalist. The 2009 winner was EIC Group Ltd, which provides student recruitment services for international institutions, organizes marketing activities to promote international education in China and IELTS training for students hoping to study abroad. EIC represents more than one hundred colleges and schools in Australia, including all Group of Eight universities.

*The ACBA:2010 will be held in Shanghai in October. For more information visit:


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