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THE NEWS WRAP: Sexual harassment lawsuit against Energy Australia

Tuesday, 27 August 2013 | By Andrew Sadauskas

The former director of corporate and government affairs at Energy Australia, Kate Shea, is suing the energy giant in the Federal Court, alleging she was unlawfully terminated after complaining about an entrenched culture of sexual harassment at the company.


Shea alleges she was sexually harassed by the company’s chief financial officer during a business trip to Hong Kong, and claims the company’s culture is so bad the head of human resources had to follow around a managing director during a staff Christmas party.


Fairfax reports that Shea was made redundant from the company, which was formerly known as TRUenergy, after informing managing director Richard McIndoe in April 2011.


“This is an escalation of the extravagant case against Energy Australia, including very personal attacks on Mr McIndoe,” Energy Australia legal representative Justin Bourke SC says.


"We say Ms Shea is using this litigation to seriously damage the reputation of Mr McIndoe."


Caltex says oil refinery closure will help fuel growth


Oil giant Caltex has posted full-year net earnings $195 million, up from $167 million a year earlier with the oil giant’s replacement cost operating profit, which strips out inventory volatility, down to $171 million, from $197 million a year earlier.


Chief executive Julian Segal says the $680 million closure of Kurnell oil refinery in Sydney will give the company additional investment flexibility.


“As we reduce our exposure to refining following the closure of our Kurnell refinery, we anticipate there will be lower volatility in our future earnings and cashflow,” Segal says.


“Lower capital intensity post the closure of the Kurnell refinery will also allow us to allocate more capital to our marketing and distribution business and/or return capital to shareholders.”


Big challenges for Ballmer successor: Analysts


Steve Ballmer’s successor as chief executive of Microsoft will have major challenges ahead of them in the years ahead, according to leading analysts.


In the past two years alone, Microsoft has lost over $US3 billion on its Bing search engine, written off $US6 billion for the purchase of ad agency aQuantive and taken a $US900 million charge on unsold Surface tablet inventory.


Despite the losses, the company remains committed to a restructure plan unveiled by Ballmer that will see the company transition from being focused on its traditional software businesses into becoming a “services and services” company.


“Taking an internal candidate like Satya Nadella – the guy nurturing servers – or some of the other people on the Windows team, that makes sense to keep a steady hand through this reorganization and strategic shift," Morningstar analyst Norman Young told Reuters.


"But a strong case could be made that the company needs a breath of fresh air, someone who can execute on the strategy but also bring an outsider perspective.”




The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down to 14946.46. The Aussie dollar is down to US90.28 cents.