Finance

Phosphagenics appoints new chief; Retailers optimistic about the start of 2015: Midday Roundup

Eloise Keating /

Biotechnology firm Phosphagenics has appointed Dr Ross Murdoch as chief executive, replacing Dr Esra Ogru who was convicted of defrauding the company of $6 million in November.

Murdoch previously headed up Prana Biotechnology and was senior vice president of Shire Pharmaceuticals. He will relocate from the US to Melbourne to take up the position.

Phosphagenics said in a statement this morning Murdoch’s appointment follows an “extensive global search”.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome Ross to Phosphagenics as chief executive officer,” said Phosphagenics chairman Lawrence Gozlan in the same statement.

“His background as a leader who has successfully built and rebuilt businesses, combined with his strong management, R&D and commercial experience convinced us that he is the right person for the job,” Gozlan said.

Retailers optimistic about the start of 2015

Retailers are generally positive about the first quarter of 2015, according to CIMB’s Christmas trading review, although margins are likely to come under pressure with the Australian dollar set to fall.

According to The Australian, the survey of 2300 retailers shows many used strategic discounts to “bait” customers in the lead-up to Christmas. However, they were not forced into deep discounts as a result of overstocked and unsold merchandise, as in previous years.

Meanwhile, more than half of retailers surveyed described gross profit margins growing in the lead-up to Christmas, with margins flat for an additional 17% of retailers.

“The survey found a relatively solid outlook for January and February sales momentum. Stock levels appear well kept as at the end of December and early trading momentum in January has been positive,” said CIMB analyst Daniel Broeren.

Shares down on open

Aussie shares have traded lower this morning, entering the local markets third consecutive day of losses.

Tristan K’Nell, head of trading at Quay Equities, said continued volatility in the commodities market and concern around the European Central Bank’s economic stimulus plans are continuing to worry local investors.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 6.1 points at 5398.6 points at 12.13pm AEDT. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones closed 27.16 points lower, down 0.15% to 17613.7 points. 

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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