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Coles’ war on costs in five-year plan

COLES Myer this week announced the outcome of its five-month strategic review of the company, looking forward to the next five years. Included in the review platform was an initiative to simplify management and reporting lines, increase the number of CEO direct reports to include human resources, supply chain, corporate affairs, finance and information technology. It also plans to implement a new bonus structure based on group and brand objectives. The retailer also announced that it would continue to wind back its shareholder discount program with the first rate of reduction to take effect on July 31 and discounted from 2004. A new loyalty program will be made available for all customers.

Resources gains

RUSSELL Crowe and Nicole Kidman missed out on best actor Oscars this week, but local resource companies did some celebrating, not least Consolidated Minerals, which shipped its millionth tonne of manganese ore from the company’s Pilbara Woodie Woodie mine, in a 30,000-tonne load destined for China.

Newcrest Mining announced $1 billion worth of plans to recommence work at the Telfer mine, after updating its resource by a factor of three to 19 million ounces, while Bullion Minerals secured an agreement to acquire unlisted company GE Resources and hence grow its gold book by two advanced projects and exploration applications.

Aquila Resources toasted a WA Supreme Court win, gaining access to MIM Holdings and Pasminco documents, which will allow it to better assess its position in an unsuccessful bid last year for Pasminco’s 49 per cent stake in Queensland copper and gold mine. Aquila was left waiting for action, while major mine partner MIM gained an extension of time from Pasminco and then exercised a pre-emptive right over the proposed sale. Aquila received $3 million in compensation from Pasminco, which later went into administration.

Tax boost for plantations

FORESTERS have welcomed the formal introduction of the tax law amendment designed to provide an incentive for investment in plantation forestry.

The new law introduces a “12-month rule”, which it is hoped will stimulate investment and allow the company greater flexibility.

The 12-month rule allows for full tax deductions to be made in the current year for certain prepaid expenditures by forestry managed investment companies.

The legislation also introduced changes to the rules regarding non-commercial losses that remove the limit on the Commissioner of Taxation to exercise discretion on matters regarding forestry companies.

Controversy follows Palandri

WA wine maker Palandri Wines has been given the green light from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. Approval has been given for Palandri to re-issue a prospectus through Margaret River Wine Production Limited, raising $5.95 million to finance the doubling of its Bussell Hwy winery in Cowaramup, as well as fund capital works for the 60-hectare third stage vineyard.

ASIC raised concerns that Palandri had failed to specify where the money would be channelled in the event that the offer was not fully subscribed.

ASIC warned that it would continue to look at situations were no minimum subscription was specified. When a minimum subscription is set, any money raised must be returned to investors.

In the supplementary, MRWP said it would first allocate funds toward the establishment of the stage 3 vineyard and then determine how much to expand the winery by depending on funds.

Controversy has never been far from Palandri Wines. It first hit the headlines three years ago because of local South West concerns with the design of its winery. More recently, however, it has been feeling the heat of AISC over concerns about disclosures in its prospectuses.

Fast advertising

A SPATE of devastating motor vehicle accidents underscored strong criticism of some manufacturers’ advertising. The Federal Government is considering a code to ban advertising promoting unsafe driving. The WA Government, which has a reported $7 million annual budget for road safety campaigns, said it would support action to regulate vehicle advertising.

Regional rebates boost mooted

THE State Government said it would put a case for increasing WA regional tax rebates at the regional development ministers’ meeting in Canberra next month, claiming the current rebates did not sufficiently compensate for higher living costs.

Bankruptcy rorts may go

PROPOSED legislation put before Federal Parliament this week seeks to make it more difficult to declare bankruptcy as a means of avoiding debt repayment.

The Bankruptcy Legislation Amendment Bill 2002 includes changes promoting a new discretion for official receivers to reject a debtor’s petition if it appears the debtor can afford to pay debts and the removal of early discharge provisions that allow some to be bankrupt for only six months

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