AUSTRALIANS love a dark horse and Australian public company, NeuroScientific Biopharmaceuticals Ltd (NSB), is just that, leading the way against other much larger pharmaceuticals in finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

As featured in Nature, The Economist and the February 2019 issue of Fortune, Alzheimer’s research has pivoted towards a ‘radical new approach’ focused on the ‘survival’ of brain cells to combat degenerative neurological disease.

To NSB chairman, Brian Leedman’s knowledge, NSB is the only company in the world poised to commence human studies in this specific field of research. 

Mr Leedman said, “NSB’s novel approach to cell survival was considered ‘radical’ at the time of its public listing mid-last year, but now is likely to be considered mainstream by the scientific community. We’re moving into human trials this year, which is effectively light years ahead of the competition.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2015 there were an estimated 342,800 people living with dementia in Australia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, an overall term for conditions that occur when the brain no longer functions properly.

An Access Economics report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Australia (AA) and published in March 2005, also projected that by 2050 - if no cure is found - the total number of Australians with dementia will be over 730,000, or 2.8 percent of the population. The costs are more than human too, with AA estimating dementia cost $8.8 billion in direct expenditure in 2016, and forecast it to rise to $16.7 billion by 2036.

NSB’s current main focus is the development of its leading drug candidate, EmtinB, towards clinical human trials, estimated to commence in Q3 of this calendar year. They are also looking to make their mark in the investment community to further their exciting research into effectively treating Alzheimer’s worldwide.

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THE Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is aware of the announcement by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia regarding their research and development (R&D) tax incentive disputes with the ATO and Innovation and Science Australia (ISA).

ISA has legislative oversight of the (R&D) tax incentive, which is administered jointly by the ATO and AusIndustry in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS).

Deputy Commissioner of Taxation Rebecca Saint said this is an important development in ensuring that the R&D Tax Incentive is working for innovative Australian businesses as it was designed.

“While we cannot comment on specific taxpayer-related matters due to confidentiality laws, this development sends a strong signal that digital transformation and software development costs do not automatically qualify for the R&D tax incentive," Ms Saint said.

“The ATO is committed to supporting innovation of Australian businesses, however, activities must meet strict legal criteria to qualify for the R&D tax incentive. Just because a project is large, expensive or risky does not mean it necessarily qualifies as R&D for the purposes of the tax incentive.

“The ATO and DIIS work together to ensure that the R&D tax incentive supports innovation activities of Australian businesses as intended. Our ongoing joint efforts in this area will ensure the continued strength of the program.

"We are continuing our joint focus on helping companies get their claims right by providing guidance, including flagging areas of concern and common mistakes," she said. "Companies and their advisors should consider how this guidance applies to their circumstances to be confident that their claims are correct."

DIIS has recently published guidance material on software activities and the R&D tax incentive. The guidance provides detailed information to assist taxpayers determine whether their software development activities are, or are not, eligible for the program and common errors.

“We encourage companies who are seeking greater certainty about their R&D tax incentive to seek advice from us and DIIS directly in relation to their specific facts and circumstances,” Ms Saint said.

She said companies should seek help from the agency that administers the aspect of the program that relates to the query. Further information on where to get help can be found on the ATO website.

Background

The R&D tax incentive encourages companies to engage in R&D benefiting Australia, by providing a tax offset for eligible R&D activities. Companies are responsible for self-assessing whether they, the activities they are conducting and the expenditure incurred for those activities meet the eligibility requirements of the R&D tax incentive.

The ATO and DIIS jointly administer the R&D tax incentive. DIIS is responsible for determining eligibility of R&D Tax Incentive registrations. The ATO determines whether or not the expenditure claimed as relating to those activities is sufficiently related to those activities to obtain the incentive.

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QUINN Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (Quinn Emanuel) has announced its intention to file a class action against IOOF Holdings Limited (IOOF) (ASX:IFL) on behalf of investors who purchased shares in the company between 27 May 2015 to 6 December 2018. 

Quinn Emanuel’s claim against IOOF will be backed by litigation funder, the Regency Group.

IOOF is one of Australia’s biggest wealth management companies with more than 500,000 customers and a current market cap of more than $2 billion.

Quinn Emanuel’s action arises from evidence given at the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Royal Commission) that subsidiaries of IOOF breached their duties as superannuation trustees, and that directors and officers of IOOF were well aware of those breaches.

In the wake of these allegations, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) launched legal proceedings against those subsidiaries and directors of IOOF, seeking amongst other things, to disqualify those directors from acting as superannuation trustees. From August 2018 to the announcement of the APRA action in December 2018, IOOF shares plummeted to a five-year low – dropping more than 35 percent.

Quinn Emanuel’s class action will allege that IOOF was aware that its conduct would have significant legal and regulatory risks. During the period 27 May 2015 to 6 December 2018, IOOF is alleged to have breached its continuous disclosure obligations and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.

Quinn Emanuel and Regency Group are encouraging all investors who acquired shares in IOOF between 27 May 2015 to 6 December 2018 (inclusive) to register their interest via the Regency Group’s website page www.ioofclassaction.com.au

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MARITIME workers will rally outside The Grand Hotel in Gladstone tomorrow morning (Monday March 18), urging immediate and decisive action from the Queensland Government to deliver a boost to local jobs, the economy, and the environment by supporting an enhanced coastal shipping industry.

A public hearing of the Inquiry into a Sustainable Queensland Intrastate Shipping Industry will be held in the MacArthur Room of The Grand Hotel from 9am, which the Maritime Union of Australia will use to outline a blueprint for reform.

More than 11,000 voyages are made by large ships along the Queensland coast each year, carrying 23 million tonnes of cargo between Queensland ports, yet the vast majority of these voyages take place on international 'Flag of Convenience' ships that use foreign crews on poor wages and conditions.

In a comprehensive submission to the Inquiry, the MUA urges the Queensland Government to turn this situation around by ensuring coastal transport and energy infrastructure delivers for Queensland by providing local jobs and protecting the state’s precious coastline. The recommendations include:

  • restoring a strengthened Restricted Use Flag to explicitly provide for the economic regulation of foreign ships operating in Queensland;
  • legislating to quarantine known large intra-state shipping routes for Australian ships;
  • reform of Australian coastal shipping legislation to ensure that regular shipping between Queensland and other states takes place on Australian ships with decent working conditions; and
  • support the creation of a Queensland coastal shipping service tailored to our needs.

The union said these proposed reforms would increase local jobs, ensure shipping off the Queensland coast and through the Great Barrier Reef is of the highest standard, take trucks off our roads, and reduce carbon emissions by ensuring domestic vessels conform to the highest emissions standards.

The union will also highlight a number of case studies showing the need for reform, including:

  • Rio Tinto ships millions of tonnes of bauxite from Weipa to Gladstone each year. In 2010, the company agreed to carry up to 80 per cent of this cargo on Australian crewed ships, yet in the past decade the percentage of bauxite cargoes on Australian-crewed ships declined to just one-third;
  • Origin Energy relies on coastal shipping for its LPG distribution network. It charters two LPG tankers that have worked continuously in Australia since they were built in 2008. For this entire time, Origin has avoided having Australian working conditions and an Australian crew on board.
  • Orica has been using the same ship to transfer ammonia from Newcastle to Gladstone to make explosives for the mining industry since 2010, but has never employed Australian crew.

The MUA’s submission to the inquiry is available at: http://www.mua.org.au/queenslandshippinginquiry/

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THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has congratulated the National Australia Bank’s lead in expanding its definition of small business to capture total lending of up to $5 million -- higher than the aggregate $3 million in the Banking Code of Practice 2019.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction, although we continue to call on the Australian Banking Authority (ABA) to adopt the Hayne recommendation in full," Ms Carnell said.

The full definition recommendation is: 'Recommendation 1.10 – Definition of ‘small business’. The ABA should amend the definition of ‘small business’ in the Banking Code so that the Code applies to any business or group employing fewer than 100 full-time equivalent employees, where the loan applied for is less than $5 million.'

“We feel up to $5 million is appropriate for many small businesses especially capital intensive businesses and family enterprises, such as farms and manufacturers," Ms Carnell said.

“Anything below $5 million is clearly out-of-date and does not represent the true lending picture of Australia’s small businesses. Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy and it’s vital they are able to grow and to employ.

“I applaud NAB for taking a leadership position and urge other banks to follow," she said.

“The ABA should immediately accept the Haynes Recommendation 1.10 and amend the Banking Code to ensure more small businesses are covered.”

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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