Sound Advice from Les Hinton

“Be Confident That You Can Make It Worth More Than You’re Paying For It”

Les Hinton, who began his career as a copy boy for the Adelaide News in 1960, became a reporter, editor and executive across various media avenues, establishing a long and prestigious career. Described by many as Rupert Murdoch’s ‘Hitman’, Les Hinton was Murdoch’s most trusted employee. His memoir, The Bootle Boy has within it a selection of fantastic quotes and stories from his illustrious career. 

Below is a selection of Hinton’s writing that our very own Graham O’Hehir thought worthwhile to relay to our GMO friends and family. Les Hinton’s incredible mind and view on business & media will no doubt influence generations to come.


“Any business comes down to this: The proper balance between spending and earning; increasing revenue while controlling costs; how much actual cash the business earns; whether customers are being charged enough; and whether debtors pay up on time.

In making acquisitions, you need, simply, to understand the business and be confident that you can make it worth more than you’re paying for it. Mostly, it is about the talent who will come with the purchase; the most valuable assets go home at the end of the day, and that doesn’t always need to include the bosses. Will the new people be easy to work with and fit into the company’s personality and style? if it’s a business with a new idea, is their intellectual property safe – patented – or easily copied? How crowded is the competition? If it is crowded, will our purchase accelerate the target company’s chance of success?

In deciding whether to buy a new company, other calculations come into play, but the final decision is more abstract than any mathematical equation. There is a natural tension between ‘ideas people’ and ‘numbers people’, but they need each other. Numbers keep a creative business grounded, but ideas make it fly. You can’t rely too much on piling statistics into a computer when the most important currency is ideas, and everything depends on those quirky, mercurial, undependable customers.

-Les Hinton, ‘The Bootle Boy’

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