News Corp nets huge rebate
Rupert Murdoch’s Australian operations pocketed an A$882 million (US$800 million) tax rebate from the new conservative government, reports said yesterday, blowing a major hole in the country’s budget. The massive payout to News Corp — one of the largest-ever made by the Australian Taxation Office — related to complex shuffling of assets through local and overseas businesses in 1989 that netted the company a A$2 billion tax deduction, according to the Australian Financial Review. The payout was a significant element of the A$17 billion spending blowout unveiled by the new government in December last year.
Lloyds may go solely retail
Lloyds Banking Group PLC is in talks with Britain’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) over “ringfencing” rules in an attempt to save its investment banking functions, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. The state-backed group is concerned that the cost of operations after ringfencing takes effect may outweigh the benefits, forcing the group to shut investment banking activities and operate as a retail business alone, sources familiar with Lloyds’ plans told the newspaper. Ringfencing for banking groups in the UK is scheduled to be implemented by 2019. The PRA is expected to consult and finalize the structure of ringfencing with banks this year.
RSA calls for buyers
British insurer RSA is looking for prospective buyers for the sale of one of its Canadian businesses, which could help the company raise as much as ￡200 million (US$335 million), Sky News reported on Sunday. RSA has begun the auction of Noraxis Capital Corp, a network of Canadian regional insurance brokers, the news service said, citing unidentified sources. RSA spokeswoman said a business review was under way and RSA would announce the outcome on Thursday next week. She declined to comment on the Sky News story. RSA operates in 31 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada and the Middle East.
Kickstarter site hacked
Online fundraising site Kickstarter says hackers got some of its customer data. The breach was disclosed on Saturday on the Kickstarter blog. The company said it learned about the breach from US law enforcement on Wednesday last week and closed it immediately. Cofounder Yancey Strickler said hackers accessed usernames, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and passwords. The passwords are encrypted, but the company said it is possible for a hacker to guess a weak or obvious password. It recommended that users change their passwords.
GDF Suez contests reports
French energy giant GDF Suez said on Sunday it was “astonished” by Belgian press reports alleging it had tried to avoid paying local taxes. “GDF Suez is astonished by the published articles and formally contests their content,” the company said in a statement. It said it had no knowledge of a probe being carried out by Belgium’s Special Tax Inspectorate. “If such an inquiry were to be opened, then GDF Suez would, as normal, fully cooperate,” it added. The statement came in response to a report in the weekend edition of L’Echo business daily which alleged that GDF Suez had inflated the bill for gas it supplied to its Belgian unit by hundreds of millions of euros in 2012.