Australian Financial Review – 6 March 2018
‘No whiteboard needed’ when expanding abroad
For Macquarie Group, the decision to launch a business in South Korea didn’t involve a long session on the whiteboard or an extensive strategy paper.
According to John Walker, vice-chairman of the investment bank in Asia, it was just one conversation with his then boss, Nicholas Moore, who is now the group’s chief executive.
“In late 1999, at a half-yearly conference, Nicholas Moore was talking about the dangers of Macquarie getting too dominant in its home market,” he said.
“I went to see him after the speech and said ‘I want to go somewhere’.”
The way Mr Walker tells it, the first suggestion from Mr Moore was the US, which he quickly declined, and after that South Korea was raised.
“Three weeks later I had an apartment, 12 months later I was divorced. Now we have 4000 people in 45 investments across the country, and 250 Macquarie staff. No grand strategy.”
“Now we are the largest foreign asset manager in the country.”
The grand strategy would come later and a belief by Mr Walker that to successfully go offshore a company needs to have a strong, differentiated offering.
“You need a niche to enter a foreign market and then you build from that beach-head,” said Mr Walker.
And to do this you need the best people from your home market to come with you.
“If you are very strong in your home market it is difficult to ask your best people to go overseas, but I do strongly believe you need your best people to be successful,” he said.
Mr Walker from Macquarie said part of the reason the bank had been successful offshore was that the board and senior management team were behind the move.
“We’ve been fortunate in that we were profitable quite early on. People were patient for a year and then we started making money.”
Australian Financial Review – 14 March 2016
New investment model de-risks Asian infrastructure projects, says John Walker
John Walker, chairman of InfraCo Asia and Macquarie’s Korea operations, has called on Australian engineering and construction groups to be more adventurous in Asia and participate in broader range of infrastructure projects to help boost private investment in the region.
Australian expertise in building water projects, heavy and light rail, airports and seaports as well as infrastructure technology, such as road pricing and logistics systems, could help Asian countries develop dams, wind farms and grain markets, Mr Walker said.
“We would like to see a little more of [Australian companies],” Mr Walker told The Australian Financial Review.
Mr Walker, also chairman of Macquarie Capital’s Asian infrastructure business, joined the government-funded InfraCo Asia group as chairman in January.
Singapore-based InfraCo Asia, which receives money from Australia, the UK and Switzerland and is backed by the Private Infrastructure Development Group, provides funds to kick-start new infrastructure projects in 12 Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam. While Australian contractors are comfortable operating in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, they have been less keen on working in other parts of Asia due to financial and legal risks, Mr Walker said. “People have been burnt.”
But InfraCo Asia, which has worked with infrastructure consultants SMEC and Tasmanian power and water consulting group Entura, believes its co-development model makes it less risky for Australian firms to participate in Asian public-private partnerships.
The group, which has nine projects under construction, uses donor funding to take the risk of designing and developing infrastructure projects, and only brings in additional investors once financing contracts have been signed. It abides by the UK’s tough Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and requires its local joint venture partners to do the same.
It aims to fully exit projects at a profit after construction is finished by attracting investment from private equity and pension funds, and recycle the profits back into new projects.
Current projects include wind power plants in Pakistan and a waste disposal plant in Sri Lanka.
InfraCo Asia could build hundreds of projects over the next decade, Mr Walker said. InfraCo Asia, which is domiciled in Mauritius, started operating in 2010 with $US30 million ($39 million) in funding, and now has capital commitments of $US200 million, of which $US100 million is currently deployed. The Australian government has contributed $22 million since 2012, and InfraCo Asia has requested additional funding.
It wants more governments to participate as donors and hopes Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Canada will consider contributing.Separately, French construction and engineering companies have joined the first French business delegation to Australia in 20 years to assess opportunities. Executives from construction group Vinci, public transport operators Transdev and Keolis (which already has a joint venture with Downer EDI in Australia) are visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra this week.
Singapore Airlines – 2 March 2016
Singapore Airlines adds Rain Dreaming to their inflight play list – now an even better way to fly.
‘노래방서 기타’파란눈 CEO가 앨범·공연 나선 사연 – 14 February 2016
지난 4일 만 61세의 생일을 맞이한 존 워커(John Walker) 한국 맥쿼리그룹(맥쿼리인프라) 회장의 얘기다. 호주 출신인 그는 본래 어려서 배운 기타 실력은 대학 시절 ‘짭짤한’ 아르바이트 자리도 꿰찰 정도였지만 공직자로 일하면서 취업 이후 약 20년 동안은 거짓말처럼 단 한 번도 기타를 잡은 적이 없다.
그런데 맥쿼리코리아 총 책임자로 한국에 온 2000년, 그는 다시 기타와 사랑에 빠지게 됐다. 직원들과 회식 후 2차로 간 ‘노래방’이라는 한국 문화와 맞닥뜨리면서부터다. 평소 그는 “한국에 거주하는 외국계 투자은행장들 중에 개인적으로 부동산(주택)을 직접 매입한 사람은 나밖에 없을 것”이라고 말할 정도로 지한파지만 한국이 과거의 취미까지 되살려줬다며 자랑했다.
워커 회장은 “노래방에 기타를 가지고 온 직원이 있어서 오랜만에 기타를 치며 노래를 해봤는데 칭찬과 격려가 쏟아졌다”며 “그때부터 자신감을 얻어 음악생활을 다시 할 수 있었다”고 말했다.
노래방에서 다시 발견한 ‘끼’는 외국계 CEO들로 구성된 아마추어밴드 추천가입으로 이어졌고, 여기서 자신감을 더 얻은 그는 아예 한국의 전문 음악가들을 소개받아 앨범 제작까지 하게 된다.
’12개의 다리(Twelve Bridges)’라는 자선앨범을 처음 선보인 워커 회장은 지난 1월 두번째 앨범 ‘레인 드리밍(Rain Dreaming)’을 내놨다. 지난 1년간 인도네시아 태국 호주 등으로 출장을 다니면서 공통적으로 가뭄을 겪고 있는 것을 보고 단비를 꿈꾼다는 노래를 하게 됐다고 설명했다.
특히 한국 생활 17년차에 내놓은 ‘레인 드리밍’에는 한국이 고향처럼 익숙해진 반면 진짜 고향인 호주는 오히려 낯설어졌다고 노래한 ‘백 인 오스트레일리아(Back in Australia)’가 담겨있다. 또 세월호에 대한 큰 애도를 표현한 ‘윕포미(Weep For Me)’와 세계태권도연맹이 지원하는 어린이 난민 캠프에 대해 노래한 ‘플라잉버터플라이(Flying Butterflies)’ 등 총 13곡이 수록돼 있다.
워커 회장은 “작곡, 작사, 노래 모두 직접 했고 영상까지 제작했다”며 “반은 호주 농장에서, 반은 한국에서 작업했는데 이중 ‘더리버(The River)’는 16세에 작곡·작사한 것”이라고 설명했다. 앨범 수록곡들은 모두 아이튠즈, 멜론, 네이버 뮤직을 통해 들을 수 있다.
그는 여기서 멈추지 않고 한국 유명 밴드와 함께 맥쿼리가 진출해 있는 아시아순회공연까지 계획하고 있다. 이미 지난 1월 29일 서울 한 식당에서 첫 선을 보였고, 오는 25일에는 일본 도쿄에서, 4월 8일에는 필리핀 마닐라에서 자선공연을 펼칠 예정이다. 이어 홍콩과 호주에서도 공연을 계획하고 있다.
앨범판매와 공연 등 그의 음악활동을 통해 얻게되는 수익금은 2억원 정도로 기대된다. 워커 회장은 “첫 앨범 출시 때는 서울과 마닐라에서만 공연을 했는데 공연수익이 1000만원 정도, 앨범판매 수익 9000만원 등 총 1억원의 수익을 거뒀다”고 말했다.
두번째 앨범의 분위기는 더 좋다. 지난 1월 29일 서울 한 식당에서 첫번째 공연을 가졌는데 앨범 판매수익이 500만원, 후원금 1300만원 등 총 1800만원의 수익을 거뒀다.
워커 회장은 “음원 판매 등 수익금을 전액 어린이 난민 캠프를 지원하는 태권도박애재단에 기부할 예정”이라며 “첫 앨범 수익금은 자연재해와 관련된 곳에 기부했는데, 나이 들면서 미래를 살아갈 아이들에 대한 관심이 커져 난민캠프를 지원키로 했다”고 밝혔다.
그는 “한국이 음악 영감을 불러일으킨다”며 “이미 5곡을 또 썼고, 이 중 산신에 대한 이야기 ‘아름다운 강산’은 한국어로 작업할 예정”이라고 말했다. 워커 회장은 이어 “윕포미는 한국어로 부르고 싶었는데 일정상 어려웠다”며 “다음 앨범에는 꼭 한국어로 부른 곡과 랩을 넣을 계획”이라고 강조했다.
Sydney Morning Herald, CBD – 8 February 2016
While Nic Moore was busy distracting the financial world with Macquarie Group’s operational briefing on Thursday, CBD was tuning into the latest musical release from the head of its Korean operations, John Walker.
Your columnist has been a big fan of Walker since the release of his first album some years back, and Rain Dreaming has been worth the wait.
“Like 12 Bridges before it, the songs combine slick professional musicianship with the unique perspectives of an Australian country boy who has become a truly global citizen. With virtuoso performances from some of Asia’s leading session musicians, Rain Dreaming is re-defining the term World Music,” says Walker’s web site.
“The breakout Country & Western tune Waiting for the Rain promises to be the special hymn for those farming communities around the world who are facing long dry spells.”
Walker has long since gone native in South Korea, and is an exponent of the country’s martial art, taekwondo. He has even joined the governing body as chairman of the marketing committee of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).
And being a Macquarie guy, Walker obviously knows a thing or two about synergy, so one of the new songs on his album, Flying Butterflies, was specially written as the theme song for the WTF’s Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.
The foundation “aims to empower refugees and displaced persons worldwide with the exercise, discipline, martial art and Olympic sport of taekwondo”.
WTF president Chungwon Choue has charged the Swiss-based foundation with dispatching instructors to refugee camps worldwide to teach taekwondo, Olympism and related values.
World Taekwondo Federation – 30 January 2016
Rock ‘n Roll Banker Donates Profits, Song to Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation
At a launch event in Seoul, a prominent investment banking executive previewed his second music album and announced that profits from the work would be donated to the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.
Seoul-based John Walker, Chair of Marketing Committee of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and recently appointed WTF Treasurer, is executive director at Macquarie Group Limited and chairman of Macquarie Group of Companies in Korea. Beyond his career in finance, the energetic Australian is a practicing martial artist, a published children’s book author and a singer-songwriter.
“Flying Butterflies,” a song on Walker’s new “Rain Dreaming” album, was specially written as the theme song for the WTF’s Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation., which aims to empower refugees and displaced persons worldwide with the exercise, discipline, martial art and Olympic sport of taekwondo.
All profits from the sale of “Rain Dreaming” are being donated to support children in refugee camps, including projects operated by the THF. Walker had previously donated profits from his first album to Asian charities.
The launch event for “Rain Dreaming” was held at restaurant “Piece” in Bangbae, in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district, with prominent locals and expatriates in attendance. Mr. Jin Bang Yang, Director General of WTF attended, but WTF President Chungwon Choue was absent.
Dr. Choue and a team of WTF executives were, that day, en route to Nepal to meet the country’s president and to carry out a reconnaissance for a THF pilot project to be established in the earthquake-ravaged nation.
“I apologize for being unable to attend the launch, but extend my very sincere thanks to John, who has so generously donated profits – and even a song – from his new album to the THF,” Choue said in a special message. “John’s selfless generosity is highly encouraging as we get the foundation up and running.”
Walker performed several songs from his latest release and a range of pieces from his debut album “12 Bridges.” The lyrics of the “Rain Dreaming” songs focus on the sensations and experiences of travelers who leave home and acquire new experiences.
Korea4expats.com – 19 January 2016
FACES OF KOREA – JOHN WALKER ‘RAIN DREAMING’
John Walker AM, the Chairman of the Macquarie Group of Companies in Korea, has just last week released his second music album “Rain Dreaming”. This follows hot on the heels of “12 Bridges” which was his debut album 12 months ago. As with “12 Bridges, John wrote and performs all of the songs which, this time around, are more “country” in style. The albums are recorded and produced in Seoul.
Up until his late twenties, John was a very active musician and performer, having studied classical piano and jazz guitar in his youth. He also composed a number of rock songs in that period and took his band into a number of talent shows playing those songs in Australia. John then launched into a career in government and then investment banking and as he says “let his guitars gather cobwebs.
When moving to Korea in 2000 to establish Macquarie’s business, John soon rediscovered his guitar. He says he had no choice as nearly every business meeting involved Karaoke and every Korean person he met had an infectious love of music.
Although John began playing his guitar again, he did so in the privacy of his own apartment for a number of years. But in 2011, he was approached to join an amateur band then known as “The FORCA Band” and now known as ”The CEO Band” in Korea. John recalls his great nervousness in again playing with a group of other people, who were doing public performances. His guitar playing was very rusty and his singing even more rusty.
John and his wife Gina are very focused on philanthropy and decided to donate the proceeds of 12 Bridges to two charities. The first of this was the Philippines Red Cross to support the victims of Typhoon Yolanda and the second, the center for the Elderly in Korea, which supports older people living alone. The Album had launching parties in both Seoul and Manila and both were used as fund raising events for these two worthy causes. 12 Bridges continues to be available on itunes, Melon, Spotify and Amazon and continues to sell and raise money. Cathay Pacific also carried the Album for 12 months on its in-flight entertainment system.
“Rain Dreaming” contains another 13 songs and the title is inspired by John’s business travel throughout 2015 where everywhere he went, including Korea, countries were gripped by drought. The first song on the album “Watching for the Rain” was written at his farmhouse in Australia as he sat waiting for much needed rain. Most of the songs, however, were written in Seoul. They include numbers about life, love and special moments. For example,”Back in Australia” describes John’s feeling when he visits Australia.
A special feature of the new album is the song “Flying Butterflies” which is the theme song for a new global humanitarian foundation being introduced by “The World Tae Kwon Do Federation” which will support children in refugee camps. This foundation has the full backing of the United Nations and indeed the song was played at a joint WTF UN event last year. The issue of refugees from middle east conflicts is one of the greatest disaster that the world has faced according to John, who is joined on this track by a children’s choir.
As was the case for the first album, all proceeds are to be donated to charities with the primary one being the WTF Humanitarian Foundation. The album will be officially launched in Seoul and performances in Tokyo and Manila will also occur over the next two months. John is also very hopeful of some performances in Australia and Hong Kong this year. These will also be fund raising events for the Foundation
The backing band and back up singers for both albums are a group of top session musicians and singers, and John’s friend SS Lee is the musical director and arranger of the songs. The quality of the music and sound really reflects the great Korean musical tradition and mastering technology.
John says he can never thank his “new home” Korea enough for the gift of bringing back his music and for the gift of business success, which has allowed him and Gina to reinvest that success into worthy causes. Gina is also an active animal welfare person and founded and runs moonbears.org which seeks to have the laws on bear farming in Korea changed.
In the album John equates rain with human kindness and generosity.
To use his words as appear in the CD Cover-
“It seems so much of the world needs more rain.
To dream of rain is to dream of happiness
It is to dream of growth
It is to dream of peace
It is to dream of plenty for all
Rain brings a generous spirit and a forgiving heart
The world needs more rain”