Winners and losers from this week

It’s been another big week in business and just in case you’ve spent the week trying to figure out how your iPhone works, we’ve picked out the winners and losers.

It’s been another big week in business and just in case you’ve spent the week trying to figure out how your iPhone works, we’ve picked out the winners and losers.

Winners

Richard Branson
The flamboyant billionaire and founder of the Virgin empire regained control of local airline Virgin Blue this week after major shareholder Toll Holdings decided to get rid of its stake by giving it away to Toll investors. But Branson faces a tough battle to get Virgin back to profitability with airline fuel prices soaring and passenger numbers falling.

Average Australians
It might not feel like it, but we Aussies are actually doing pretty well. According to data from CommSec, the average wealth held by Australians in property, shares and other assets has climbed 8% or $21,700 over the last 12 months to $250,000. Not bad, given how rotten the economy looks at the moment.

Ted Baker
British fashion house Ted Baker got plenty of justice over copyright infringements by Australian retailers and designers. Target paid Ted Baker $98,000, Witchery paid $35,000 and JAG coughed up $305,000 infringing the UK company’s “intellectual property and design rights”.

eBay
Customers and users the world over might be up in arms with the online auction giant, but it scored an important victory this week when a US court ruled eBay did not have responsibility to prevent users from selling fake Tiffany & Co jewellery.

Apple
One million iPhones sold in just three days last weekend. Best product launch ever? Locally, Optus is claiming it grabbed the lion’s share of iPhone sales, although there’s little doubt this much-hyped gadget will also be a winner for Vodafone and Telstra.

Losers

Frank Lowy
The billionaire founder of the Westfield property empire is being investigated by the Australian tax office and the US senate into allegations he hid millions of dollars in a foundation in Liechtenstein. Lowy denies any wrong doing.

Carbon intensive industries
The Rudd Government’s green paper was criticised in some quarters for being too soft and in others for putting too big a burden on business and households. Whatever the case, it was clear that those hardest hit by the introduction of an emissions trading scheme will be energy producers and heavy industries such as the aluminum sector.

Boat owners
The tax office’s investigation-by-stereotype crusade continued this week, with the taxman announcing he will look at the tax records of 160,000 boat owners to make sure they are not dodging tax. The move, which comes a few months after the tax office announced it would look at luxury car owners, is part of the organisation’s attempt to target conspicuous signs of wealth.

Exporters
Exporters were dealt a triple blow this week. First, the Australia dollar hit US98c. Then it emerged that exports are likely to be among the hardest hit by the introduction of an emissions trading scheme. Finally, grants paid by the Government for export assistance will drop from a maximum of $70,000 to a maximum of $40,000.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Who would have thought Australians would become so familiar with two ridiculously named US mortgage companies? The near-collapse and subsequent US Government bailout of these mortgage companies sent shockwaves through global markets and reminded everyone that the credit crunch ain’t over yet.

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