Insights

12/03/18

Boardroom Brief: Week commencing 12 March 2018

Welcome to Edition 53 of Boardroom Brief.

This is a service specifically targeted at the needs of busy non-executive directors. We aim to give you a “heads up” on the things that matter for NEDs in the week ahead – all in two minutes or less.

KEY BOARDROOM BRIEF

ASIC releases consultation paper on its approach to overseeing the AFCA. On 5 March 2018, ASIC released a consultation paper seeking the views of interested stakeholders, including scheme, industry and consumer representatives on: (i) ASIC’s proposals for two aspects of its oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA); and (ii) whether financial firms need any transitional relief from external dispute resolution disclosure obligations. The AFCA - which is being established under legislation passed by the Senate on 14 February 2018 - will provide a one-stop shop for resolving disputes with banks, insurers, super funds and certain credit providers and will commence operations no later than 1 November 2018. The consultation paper was accompanied by draft updated Regulatory Guide 139, which sets out how ASIC will administer its new powers under the legislation to perform its oversight role of the AFCA. The consultation closes on 6 April 2018 and the guidance will be finalised and published by the time the AFCA commences. See ASIC’s media release.

Green Project Bonds. Directors of companies involved in so-called “green” enterprises should be aware of the increasing array of non-traditional financing options available to them for new infrastructure developments. In Green Project Bonds: Why Project Bonds will be a bigger part of Australia’s Infrastructure Future our Banking + Infrastructure Partner Adela Smith and DCM Lead Louise McCoach, along with other G+T experts, explain why funding via “green” project bonds and similar sources is set to become the way of the future.

Proposal for a cross-industry framework for the management of information security. On 7 March 2018, APRA released a discussion paper that sets out a package of measures intended to respond to the growing threat of cyber-attacks for industry consultation. The package is aimed at shoring up the ability of APRA-regulated entities to repel cyber adversaries, or respond swiftly and effectively in the event of a breach.  Written submissions on the proposals are invited until 6 June 2018. See APRA’s media release.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Exemption deals on new US steel and aluminium tariffs. After US President Donald Trump signed an order for 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminium imports respectively last Thursday, exempting Canada and Mexico in the process, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed over the weekend that Australia has also won similar concessions (and was quick to rebuff the suggestion that Australia will concede something in return) . A 15-day negotiation period is now underway with other US trading partners (including Brazil, Japan, Argentina and the EU) to win waivers from the measures, which will come into effect on 23 March 2018. We are yet to see – as threatened by the EU – whether a complaint will be made to the WTO in the coming months.

Whistleblower protection reforms. The Senate is expected to report on its consideration of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017, which is currently undergoing its second reading in Parliament and anticipated to come into effect from 1 July 2018.

US CPI. US inflation figures for February will be released on Wednesday (Australian time) and should provide further clues to the trajectory of interest rates in the US. Core inflation in the US is currently around 2.6% annualised, and any upward revision is likely to stoke fears of an inflationary break-out in the world largest country: particularly now that the Trump Administration has committed to tax cuts that will deliver a staggering US$1.5 trillion in fiscal relief to US taxpayers over the next decade.

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