Product safety and advertising in ACCC’s crosshairs; Orica appoints Alberto Calderon to replace “aggressive” chief: Midday Roundup

Product safety and advertising in ACCC’s crosshairs; Orica appoints Alberto Calderon to replace “aggressive” chief: Midday Roundup

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has named product safety, truth in advertising and misuse of market power among the watchdog’s priorities for 2015.

Sims told the National Consumer Congress in Sydney on Friday that protecting vulnerable consumers, scam disruption, carbon and online issues would also be areas of focus in the year ahead. He also highlighted a clampdown on the medical and health sector, debt collection and private health insurance.

The ACCC last year launched legal proceedings in eight new competition cases and 20 consumer protection matters in the Federal Court, according to Sims. It also accepted 14 consumer protection-related undertakings and issued 15 infringement notices.

“In 2014, our court actions under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) netted a total of $14.5 million in pecuniary penalties,” said Sims.

Sims emphasised the watchdog’s success with its handling of cases such as Coles’ supplier bullying, Harvey Norman franchisee misrepresentations and Fisher & Paykel’s misleading warranties.


Orica appoints Alberto Calderon to replace “aggressive” chief


Mining giant Orica this morning revealed ex-BHP Billiton boss Alberto Calderon as its interim chief executive officer, after the company’s previous chief stepped down following allegations of aggressive behaviour.

Chief executive Ian Smith was forced to step down last week after an “outburst” at Orica’s general manager of investor relations, which was said to be the final straw for the mining explosives company.

“He has a direct style and can on occasion be overly aggressive. If you are the recipient of that you have every right to think you are being bullied,” chairman Russell Caplan told Fairfax.

Calderon has served as a non-executive director on the Orica board since August 2013 and will take up the top job immediately.

“The importance of ensuring stability and operational continuity at Orica has been at the forefront of my discussions with the board,” Calderon said in a statement.

“The ongoing implementation of our strategy will be my priority while the board continues the process of selecting a permanent CEO.”


Shares down after push to 6000


Local shares are currently flat this morning following an early surge by the ASX index towards 6000. If the index had exceeded the 6000 mark, it would have been the first time since 2008.

“At this level, the rally that began in October would be the same size as the rally that took place between mid-2013 and mid-2014,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

“This equivalence in the size of trends is a common feature in markets. There is also potential resistance from old support dating back to 2007 around this level.”

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 19.3 points to 5956.2 points at 12.02pm AEDT. On Friday, the Dow Jones closed up 0.94%, jumping 168.62 points to 18,127.6 points.


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