Officeworks IPO off the table … Maccas ad slammed for “exploiting childhood bereavement” … Treasury responds to banks’ tax worries

Mathias Cormann

Treasurer Scott Morrison and Minister for Finance Senator Mathias Cormann ahead of Budget 2017. Source: AAP.

By Eloise Keating, Dominic Powell and Emma Koehn 

Australian retail conglomerate Wesfarmers will not pursue an initial public offering for its Officeworks business, but hasn’t ruled out offloading the stationery chain in a trade sale.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on Wednesday morning, Wesfarmers said following a strategic review, it has decided that spinning off Officeworks into its own listed company “would not realise appropriate value and would not be in the best interests of its shareholders” at this point in time.

A potential float of the Officeworks business has been discussed since February and earlier this month, JP Morgan researchers suggested an equity valuation for the retailer of between $1.14 billion and $1.52 billion.

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said in the statement this morning that Wesfarmers is “comfortable” retaining the Officeworks business, which would only be divested if “it was considered to be in the best interests of Wesfarmers’ shareholders”.

Maccas accused of exploiting grief 

A UK advertisement from fast food giant McDonald’s has been pulled after it was accused of “exploiting childhood bereavement”.

The Guardian reports the advertisement shows a boy inquiring about the similarities between him and his deceased father, seeming sad as his mother explains they did not have much in common.

The ad then shows the pair at McDonald’s, where the boy orders a Fillet-O-Fish. The mother responds, “that was your dad’s favourite too”.

“What [McDonald’s] have done is exploited childhood bereavement as a way to connect with young people and surviving parents alike – unsuccessfully,” founder of children’s bereavement charity Grief Encounter Shelley Gilbert told The Guardian.

“We have already received countless phone calls this morning, with parents telling us their bereaved children have been upset by the advert.”

A spokesperson for McDonald’s told The Guardian the advertisement has been taken down, saying “It was never our intention to cause any upset”.

“We are particularly sorry that the advert may have disappointed those people who are most important to us: our customers.”

Treasury says it will reveal bank levy details later

Treasury secretary John Fraser has written to President of the Australian Bankers’ Association Anna Bligh, saying the formulation of the government’s planned levy on bank deposits followed “normal budget processes”.

The ABA asked wrote to Treasury on Monday, asking in its submission on the tax that the government release modelling on its economic impact after the policy was revealed in the 2017 budget papers.

In response, Fraser said more details would be released when the bill is introduced to the House of Representatives.

“As is usual practice we will be providing further relevant information including a regulatory impact statement canvassing the broader economic impacts, compliance issues and revenue estimates as part of the explanatory material accompanying the draft legislation when it is introduced into Parliament,” Treasury said in response.

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