Month: January 2019


ING to scrap international ATM fees

The fight over ATM fees is expanding overseas, with ING offering fee-free withdrawals from every ATM in the world to customers who conduct their main banking business with the digital bank.
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The move comes as banks face pressure to roll back unpopular fees, while ING is seeking to bulk up its share of the market by targeting regular overseas travellers or shoppers at foreign websites.

As well as scrapping ATM fees internationally, it will also remove international purchase fees from its credit and debit cards – which were previously 2 per cent of the purchase price.

To qualify for the offer, customers will need to deposit at least $1000 a month into the account, and make at least five card purchases each month.

It is a response to growing demand for overseas purchases, and part of a strategy by the lender to win over more customers who use ING for their main transaction account.

The Dutch-owned bank has recently moved into credit cards and insurance, from its roots in savings products and loans, and the transaction account is highly valued by banks because it allows banks to sell other products.

“We are seeing some significant changes in customer behaviour,” head of retail banking Melanie Evans said.

“We’ve got one in three ns leaving the country each year to travel internationally, we’ve got almost half of ING customers shopping online from their living rooms.”

Managing director of payments consulting firm The Initiatives Group, Lance Blockley, said it typically cost banks $1 to $2 when a customer withdrew money from an ATM overseas.

“Depending on the number of their cardholders accessing overseas ATMs, it could be a reasonable expense, but a very good marketing move,” he said.

The removal of ATM fees has also come at a time when customers are turning away from cash – ING said overseas withdrawals by its customers fell 12 per cent last year.

At the same time, however, foreign digital transactions are growing strongly. The bank’s average customer’s overseas spending has lifted by 17 per cent in the past three years.

“There’s nothing worse than coming home from a holiday or potentially doing your shopping for Christmas, and seeing not just the transaction move out of your bank account, but the 2 per cent fee come through after that,” Ms Evans said.

Ms Evans said the bank would not profit from the exchange rate offered for transactions made on the card.

The move will also help ING keep a key point of difference. Since 2009, it has offered fee-free ATM withdrawals across all cash machines in by refunding the fees banks charged customers of other institutions for making withdrawals.

After the big four banks recently abolished their ATM fees for customers of other banks, most customers have far more access to fee-free ATMs. ING will also have saved money because it no longer needs to reimburse customers for the fee.

Even so, Ms Evans said the recent changes by banks to remove ATM fees affected only about 40 per cent of the ATMs in .

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Flight Centre goes home brand in profitability push

Flight Centre will try to sell customers more of its own tours, hotel rooms and other products as the nation’s largest travel agent tries to improve its profitability in the notoriously margin-thin industry.
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The company told shareholders at its annual general meeting on Thursday that it wanted to make selling its own “in-destination” products a core pillar of business growth, along with leisure and corporate travel bookings.

“It is about the vertical experience,” managing director Graham Turner told Fairfax Media.

“You deal with the customer instore and then they go on your own products as well.

“Still, 80 to 90 per cent of our business will be on other suppliers’ product, but because we’ve got the distribution network it is quite important that we sell our own product as well.”

Travel agents take a relatively thin cut from airline bookings compared to hotel rooms and other products, and Mr Turner said selling more ancillary products would improve the business’ profitability.

The company, which has been on an acquisition spree in recent years, owns a number of tour operators, a hotel management business, and “destination management” businesses which arrange services such as airport transfers.

Owning these businesses meant Flight Centre had more control over the quality of what it was selling customers, and could market unique products, Mr Turner said.

Flight Centre is targeting a return to a 2 per cent profit margin within three to five years, up from 1.6 per cent last year, along with 7 per cent average transaction growth over the next three years, and cost growth of less than $100 million this year.

The company said it was on track to return a profit before tax of between $120 million and $135 million in the first half of the financial year.

That will be growth of between 6 to 19 per cent on the same period last year, when profit grew at 1.8 per cent, and will set it up for a full-year profit of between $350 million and $380 million – up 6.2 to 15.6 per cent on 2017.

Mr Turner said its international businesses would be the core growth driver in 2018, as its n and New Zealand stores undergo booking system upgrades that are expected to disrupt sales and see first local half profits dip “slightly”.

North America, which delivered about 10 per cent of the group’s $329 million underlying profit last year, was seeing improvements in the challenging leisure and wholesale markets. That was a result of closing under-performing outlets, which would likely continue as more shop leases expire.

n leisure travellers account for about half the company’s profits, and Mr Turner said that while “very few” of its local shopfronts were unprofitable, it would look to close or relocate struggling stores.

Record low international airfares out of have hurt the company’s earnings over the past year but Mr Turner said fares appeared to have stabilised.

Shaw and Partners analyst Darren Vincent said Flight Centre’s performance update on Thursday gave credence to the performance targets it first revealed in August.

“Investors have been reluctant to factor in some of those aspirational targets,” said Mr Vincent, who has a bullish outlook on the company.

“With today’s announcement you’ve seen Flight Centre management pretty much saying: ‘we’re on track for delivering the start of what we said we’d deliver’. So I think that’s why you’ve seen the share price react pretty positively.”

Shares rose 2 per cent to close at $47.45, up from $29.50 a year ago.

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CBA tipped to avoid second ‘strike’ on executive pay

The Commonwealth Bank looks set to avoid a damaging second “strike” on executive pay, with influential proxy advisers and the peak group for retail investors supporting the bank’s remuneration report.
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However, proxy firm CGI Glass Lewis is advising investors to vote against the re-election of one non-executive director, Andrew Mohl, pointing to damage to CBA’s reputation caused by the money-laundering compliance scandal.

After the bank suffered a fierce shareholder backlash at last year’s annual meeting, chair Catherine Livingstone will next week chair her first AGM at the bank after a tumultuous few months for the lender.

Ms Livingstone is likely to face questions over the explosive allegations from Austrac that CBA repeatedly breached anti-money-laundering laws by failing to report thousands of suspicious transactions through its ATMs between 2012 and 2015.

But in welcome news for the bank, proxy firms ISS, Ownership Matters, and CGI Glass Lewis have advised large investor clients to vote in favour of the company’s remuneration report.

This comes after Ms Livingstone scrapped all executive short-term bonuses as a form of collective accountability following the Austrac scandal, and a revamp of CBA’s remuneration policies.

Last year, 50.9 per cent of CBA’s shareholders rejected the remuneration report, making CBA the first major bank in to receive a first strike on executive pay.

If CBA receives a second “strike” next week, it will trigger another vote on whether to call another meeting to spill the board, but proxy firms are also recommending shareholders vote against this conditional motion, if it comes to that.

ISS recommended a “qualified” vote for the bank’s remuneration report. It welcomed changes such as CBA’s greater emphasis on financial targets when setting bonuses, and the fact outgoing chief Ian Narev will not be eligible to earn new long-term bonus shares.

CGI Glass Lewis also supported a vote in favour of the remuneration report, noting executive pay at CBA this year had been “significantly lower” than last year.

However, CGI advised clients to vote against the re-election of Andrew Mohl, who is seeking re-election for one more year before departing next year.

Mr Mohl has been on the board for nine years, and CBA says it is asking for him to serve one more year because of his experience in insurance, given the bank is in the process of selling its life insurance business.

But CGI said all directors who were on the board at the time of the alleged Austrac contraventions should be accountable, and the only non-executive directors who have served for more than three years were Mr Mohl and Brian Long.

As Mr Long is not up for re-election this year, CGI said it had “no other option” but to recommend a vote against the re-election of Mr Mohl.

While noting Mr Mohl’s insurance expertise, it said: “Nevertheless, we are unable to endorse this nominee up for election this year, in light of the reputational issues that have a significant negative impact on shareholders.”

ISS gave “qualified support” for the re-election of Mr Mohl, and other directors Sir David Higgins, and Wendy Stops.

Shareholders will also vote on the proposed appointment of former Westpac banker Rob Whitfield to the Commonwealth Bank’s board as a non-executive director. ISS and CGI supported Mr Whitfield’s appointment.

The n Shareholders’ Association has also backed the remuneration report, but will vote against the re-election of Mr Higgins as a director, because of his role in overseeing the creation of last year’s remuneration report that incurred a no vote.

“By voting against his re-election, the ASA is holding him accountable for the first strike on the remuneration report,” the ASA’s voting intentions document says.

Since Austrac accused CBA of the massive compliance breach in August, the board scrapped senior executive bonuses for this year, cut board fees, and it was announced chief executive Ian Narev will leave the lender by the end of this financial year.

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Geoff Wilson counters Nick Bolton’s raid on Molopo’s $65m cash box

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 11: Geoff Wilson, from WAM, during the UBS Investment Conference on November 11, 2016 in Sydney, . (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media)It has all the makings of a Sergio Leone western.
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Interests associated with corporate spiv, Nick Bolton, and Perth-based cowboy Farooq Khan, are no longer the only ones making a grab for the $65 million cash box that is Molopo Energy.

A white knight has emerged in the form of respected fundie Geoff Wilson.

His group, Wilson Asset Management, joined the treasure hunt on Thursday with a $33 million cash takeover bid for Molopo.

“If they want liquidity, we are offering 100 per cent cash,” Wilson told CBD.

His bid matches the offer from Aurora, an entity associated with Bolton – the guy who has been banned from acting as a company director for three years following his involvement in the failure of 13 companies that left creditors with debts totalling $25 million.

So if you think Wilson’s $33 million cash for a company doesn’t sound like a great deal, wait until you hear the offer from Aurora, which offers a small amount of cash and then units in an Aurora fund that has a redemption schedule set up by associates of Bolton.

The best option, of course, is to stay put and keep Botlon’s crew out of the driver’s seat.

Wilson is targeting 50.1 per cent acceptance as a minimum condition, which is why its offer is also conditional on the outcome of a legal challenge by the Bolton and Khan-backed Keybridge. It is a major Molopo investor.

The Takeovers panel ordered Keybridge and Aurora to divest some of the shares the two companies acquired as part of their raid on Molopo after declaring “unacceptable circumstances”.

It amounts to a 16 per cent stake in Molopo that ASIC will be selling once the legal challenge is settled.

The Wilson offer should add to the fun at this Friday’s Molopo shareholder meeting. Keybridge will attempt to knock off Molopo executive chairman Alexandre Gabovich, and replace him with one of its own, William Johnson. Fox Cunning

Rupert Murdoch’s crucial backer at 21st Century Fox – Prince Alwaleed bin Talal – sold most of his shares as much as two years ago and the group still hasn’t confirmed this fact to the market.

So there was no way that Fox CEO James Murdoch, and co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch, were going to come clean about any alleged attempt to sell Fox’s TV and movie production businesses to Disney when they fronted analysts for the group’s Q1 results on Thursday.

“Let me be very clear up front that we have a long-standing policy of not commenting on speculations around corporate activity or transactions ??? we will not be responding at all to questions or comments regarding recent press speculation,” Lachlan told analysts in his opening breath.

But he did not entirely avoid the issue, which goes to the heart of why a sale of these assets would make sense: Does Fox has the scale to compete with the Netflixes and other potential new predators in the media landscape?

“Let me be very clear, Fox has the required scale to continue to both execute on our growth strategy and deliver increased returns to shareholders,” said Lachlan.

James dutifully promised that Fox is still engaging with UK regulators over its next big play at building scale – the Sky takeover – and said “we anticipate the transaction to close by the middle of 2018”.

The good news is that there was a brave soul among the analysts who tried to indirectly address the elephant in the room, Michael Nathanson from MoffettNathanson.

He opened with the suggestion that Fox is perceived as an asset collector. Nathanson then asked if industry trends had changed enough for Fox to rethink its asset mix for the long term.

“So I just want to know thematically, are you guys at the right scale?” asked Nathanson.

Both James and Lachlan swung at this one.

“We’ve always been asset builders whether it’s Sky or Star or Fox News or the Fox Network, we operate these businesses to build them and grow. And we will continue to do so,” said Lachlan.

James pointed out that the company has been happy to sell “assets that weren’t going to change our lives”, citing the sale of its Russian outdoor business as an example.

It would have been lost on no one that the sale of Fox’s entertainment assets would be very life changing for James who runs these businesses. Home fires

There’s something brewing in the household of Treasury Wine boss, Michael Clarke.

Just a few weeks ago he sold $2.8 million worth of stock and shuffled another 100,000 shares to his missus, Fiona Clarke.

On Thursday Mr Clarke disclosed to the market that Ms Clarke sold 90,000 of those shares for $1.4 million. Mr Clarke also transferred another 100,000 shares across to his wife.

So we know who makes the big decisions in THAT household.

Follow CBD on Twitter. Got a tip? [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

18/01/2019 0

Every croak counts: ‘Urgent rescue mission’ to save China’s frogs

??????Godzilla?????? the Green tree frog , on a smart phone. The n Museum has produced an app which can identify frog species using their calls for the public to help track species in . Pic Nick Moir 8 nov 2017
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A smart phone reflected in the eye of a Pobblebonk frog .The n Museum has produced an app which can identify frog species using their calls for the public to help track species in . Pic Nick Moir 8 nov 2017

??????Godzilla?????? the Green tree frog , on a smart phone. The n Museum has produced an app which can identify frog species using their calls for the public to help track species in . Pic Nick Moir 8 nov 2017

Like the stars of stage, screen and Sesame Street, the 25-year-old green tree frog called Godzilla??? was immediately ready for his croak up.

When Godzilla saw an iPhone at the n Museum this week, the male frog hugged it. It was an appropriate response given that a new smart phone app called FrogID is being described as an “urgent rescue mission” to save frogs that are vulnerable or endangered.

It’s part of a national citizen science initiative to count ‘s frogs, which is being launched by the n Museum on Friday.

The app developed by IBM works a bit like the music identification and discovery app Shazam by recording male frog’s chirps, barks and croaks. After downloading the app and turning on the location to aid identification, all users have to do is hit record when they think they hear a male frog calling out to attract the females of its species.

The museum’s frog expert Jodi Rowley said frogs were often hard to identify by sight: some species look so similar that she sometimes has to inspect the front legs to find small differences. Like humans, each frog has its own “voice”, and a larger frog will sound deeper than a younger, smaller frog.

Of the 240 native n species, four frogs are already extinct, five are critically endangered, 14 are endangered and 10 are vulnerable, said Dr Rowley, the curator of amphibian and reptile conservation biology.

“Frogs are an incredibly threatened group of animals,” she said. “Globally it is 42 per cent of all species [that are threatened], which is faster than birds and mammals. And one of the major obstacles in preserving frogs is a lack of knowledge.”

Godzilla, the green tree frog. Photo: Nick Moir

In , an estimated 20 species of frogs have yet to be named or identified. There may even be cases where what is thought to be one species could actually be three. “That has huge conservation implications,” she said.

Frogs are bio-indicators, and, like the canaries in the coal mine, they are often the first to perish when the quality of water deteriorates or from changes in their habitat.

Kathy Potter of the Frog and Toad Study Group lives with Godzilla and about 40 other frogs, which the educational group has saved or rescued.

“It is nice to see people doing things with frogs,” she said of the new FrogID app. “It’s usually pretty lonely out there. It is a really specialised kind of crazy.”

A Pobblebonk frog. Photo: Nicholas Moir

Frogs were easier to find than most people thought, she said, adding they were everywhere.

“You don’t have to go out into the wilderness and be the next David Attenborough … you can go to your local oval at night, you find them in drains, you find them in gutters, any parkland with waters, a good thing to do with friends.”

Dr Rowley is hoping citizen scientists may also find some frogs that have gone missing, such as the peppered tree frog, which was last seen in 1970s in NSW’s Northern Tablelands and may be threatened with extinction.

“It is a little bit of a needle in a haystack because it is about two centimetres in body length [and lives in deep gorges],” she said.

“This is one species where it would be amazing if somebody out there recorded its call,” said Dr Rowley who has been looking for it.

Download info available at FrogID苏州夜场招聘.au

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