Business news of interest this week

Business stories from the past week, compiled by Jason Maywald:

1) Robert Priestley resigns from ASX board

JP Morgan Australian chairman Robert Priestley has resigned from the board of sharemarket operator ASX and from the Future Fund board of guardians saying a cartel case being pursued by the competition regulator could prove to be a “distraction”.

Investment banks Citi and Deutsche Bank, and their client ANZ, are facing criminal charges regarding alleged cartel activity related to the sale of ANZ shares following a botched capital raising in 2015.

JP Morgan was a joint lead underwriter on the share sale, but has been granted immunity.

“I am very conscious of the unique role that the ASX plays at the heart of Australia’s financial marketplace, and with all of its participants,” he said in a statement.

“There has been considerable interest in the ACCC banking matter which may become a potential distraction for the ASX and my board colleagues.


2) Amazon Prime customers in Australia to be hit wiht two day delivery times

Australian consumers signing up for Amazon Prime will have to wait two days for delivery rather than the same-day or next-day service offered in most countries.

Amazon’s premium offering launched in Australia on Tuesday with a monthly subscription of $6.99 or $59 a year, and a $4.99 a month introductory offer. On the US site, an annual membership is $US119 ($160) a year, with free same-day and one-day delivery to major cities when spending over $US35.

The launch of Amazon Prime comes after the ecommerce giant recently blocked Australians from shopping on its international websites blaming the government’s new GST rules on online purchases.


3) Karbon raises $7m to target MYOB

A start-up accounting practice management software company backed by Blackbird Ventures has raised $7 million, and plans to pounce on the opportunity created by the recent failure of incumbents MYOB and Reckon to merge.

Karbon, a cloud-based software-as-a-service provider in a market still dominated by legacy desktop-based products, has surpassed 1000 clients since it was founded in 2014 by Stuart McLeod and John Freeman, who sold Xero, their online payroll provider, in 2011 and then fronted the Kiwi company’s early efforts to break the US.

Karbon is based in San Francisco and 55 per cent of its revenues are from US mid-tier accounting firms, but about half its 20 staff are in a Sydney product development office and about 35 per cent of revenue derives from Australia.

Mr McLeod said MYOB’s withdrawal in May from its $180 million offer to buy the accounting practice management business of Reckon – once it became apparent the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission would block the merger anyway – offered it revenue opportunities.


4) BridgeClimb Sydney loses contract to Harbour Bridge

Sydney’s BridgeClimb experience is about to change after the company lost the contract to work on the world famous Harbour Bridge.

BridgeClimb had been operating on the bridge for 20 years, until today when the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) announced their time had come to an end.

BridgeClimb has reportedly lost the lucrative $50 million contract to Scenic World.

The operators of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, the most visited privately- owned tourist attraction in Australia, has been awarded the 20-year contract.

In a statement today, BridgeClimb Sydney’s Chairman and founder Paul Cave thanked every Climber and customer who had gone through the iconic experience.


5) Concerns over future of ABC

The Turnbull Government is scrambling to rule out any sell-off of the ABC after the Liberal party membership voted in favour of privatisation on the weekend.

On Saturday, the Liberal federal council passed a motion with a two-to-one majority calling on the coalition to sell off the ABC, except in regional areas.

The government has not supported the motion, which was reportedly supported by a majority of the 110 delegates by a show of hands.

Government frontbencher Josh Frydenberg backed Saturday’s assurance from Treasurer Scott Morrison that the government had no plans for privatisation.

“The Liberal party membership are entitled to their views and are as frustrated as we are from time to time about the coverage on the ABC,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News on Sunday.

“But the reality is this is an iconic national institution which will remain in the public’s hands.”