Seven Group Holdings chairman Kerry Stokes is rumoured to have joined a consortium of high-profile business and media figures planning an investment in peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne. According to a report in The Australian Financial Review, the consortium is led by former Challenger chief executive Dominic Stevens, and includes both News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch as well as Crown chairman James Packer. The report also states the lender has attracted the attention of a rival consortium, which includes US private equity giant The Blackstone Group and New York-based investment bank Credit Suisse. The foreign rival bid is reportedly interested in expanding the company overseas. A spokesperson for SocietyOne told StartupSmart it is not in a position to comment on speculation. Popular overseas, the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending model works by allowing investors to lend a fraction of a loan directly to a borrower, without using a traditional bank or financial institution as an intermediary. In turn, companies such as SocietyOne provide a platform that links credit-worthy borrowers with investors. SocietyOne, which claims to be the only active lender of its type in Australia, cites a number of benefits of the P2P model. This includes lower fees and more flexibility for borrowers, along with a new class of asset for investors. Last month, the P2P lender dropped its personal loan rate for a prime borrower to 9.80% pa, 5% lower than the average rate from the major banks. It currently offers personal loans of between $5000 and $30,000. The consortium’s interest comes after Westpac’s Reinventure Group made a $5 million investment in SocietyOne during April. The investment was believed to be the first equity stake a bank has taken in P2P lender anywhere in the world. A further $3.5 million was poured into SocietyOne by Rocket Internet and several local investors at the same time as the Reinventure. StartupSmart attempted to reach a representative of Stokes through Seven West Media, but received no response prior to publication.
Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media has announced Tim Worner will replace Don Voelte as its chief executive, while private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has announced it is selling its 12% stake in the media giant. “When I asked Don [Voelte] to accept the responsibility [of chief executive], it was on the basis that he would recommend when he thought he had delivered what he could deliver to the team, and we've arrived at that point,” Stokes said. “Our decision to sell our shareholding is based on a broad range of parameters on which we based our initial investment and how we sought returns for our investors. We know Seven West Media is a great company; its future is strong and we know it has a well-credentialed board and management,” said KKR local head Justin Reizes. Apple defends tax minimisation strategies Apple chief executive Tim Cook has denied the tech giant uses offshore holding companies in Ireland and the Caribbean to minimise the amount of tax it pays in the United States to a US Senate hearing. “It is completely outrageous that Apple has not only dodged full payment of US taxes, but it has managed to evade paying taxes around the world through its convoluted and pernicious strategies,” Republican Senator John McCain. “The way I look at it is that Apple pays 30.5 per cent of its profits in taxes in the United States… We do have a low tax rate outside the United States but this tax rate is for products we sell outside the United States,” Cook said. “We don't depend on tax gimmicks. We don't move intellectual property offshore and use it to sell our products back to the United States to avoid taxes... We don't stash money on some Caribbean island.” Door-to-door sales tactics cost AGL nearly $1.5 million A lawsuit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the Federal Court in Melbourne has resulted in utility giant AGL being fined $1.48 million fine in Victoria and a further $70,000 in South Australia over its door-to-door sales tactics. The lawsuit was largely the result of a CPM Australia contractor who sold gas and electricity for the firm in Coburg making false statements to customers about prices while claiming he was not selling anything. AGL has since stopped using doorknocking as a sales tactic, describing it as a “risky sales technique”. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.35% to 15,388.27. The Aussie dollar is steady at US98.06 cents.
The father of Swisse chief executive Radek Sali has launched a defamation action following claims on ABC’s consumer affairs program The Checkout, claiming a recent episode ‘‘severely injured his reputation and standing’’. Presenters Craig Reucassel and Julian Morrow along with executive producer Nick Murray and the ABC are all named as defendants in the lawsuit. Avni Sali’s lawsuit centres around claims made during the episode broadcast March 21, which alleged the National Institute of Integrative Medicine he founded was not independent in conducting clinical tests of Swisse products. “The program was meant and was understood to mean that the plaintiff performed clinical tests... and then manipulated the published results for the commercial benefit of Swisse,’’ Sali says. Packer lieutenant John Alexander appointed to Seven West Media board Seven West Media has announced it is appointing John Alexander, the former executive deputy chairman of James Packer's Crown Casino empire, to its board of directors. "We are delighted John has accepted the invitation to join the board of Seven West Media," Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes states. “His success in media and business speaks for itself. His appointment adds further depth to the board of our company as it continues to develop its businesses.” Treasury looks at closing tax loopholes for digital services The Treasury has released an issues paper examining the ways in which international online giants, including Google, Apple and Microsoft, minimise their tax bills by shifting profits from online services into low-tax jurisdictions. “The global reach of multinational enterprises, along with the developments in information and communication technology…provides them with a high degree of flexibility in how to structure their affairs,” the paper states. “These developments raise serious concerns about the efficiency, equity and sustainability of the income tax system.” The paper also calls for submissions suggesting possible solutions to the erosion of tax revenues by international tech companies, along with further data that could assist the Australian Tax Office. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.9% to 14831.6. The Aussie dollar is up to US102.48 cents.
Rip Curl, the Australian surf icon founded by two friends in 1969, has been put up for sale, with analysts anticipating the business will go for around $300 million.
Having very little money has served as the motivation for many successful entrepreneurs, from Seven Media chief Kerry Stokes to Harry Potter mastermind JK Rowling.
The Federal Budget will forecast an extra 500,000 jobs will be created over the next two years, treasurer Wayne Swan has revealed.
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has bumped media mogul Rupert Murdoch off the top spot in this year’s BRW Executive Rich List, with mining companies dominating the list of Australia’s 200 wealthiest executives.
James Packer resigned as a director of the Ten Network after a falling out with Lachlan Murdoch over the appointment of a new CEO, according to media reports.