Amazon starts Australian trial after months of hype

Australia has long had Amazon-registered sellers but they have been limited to sending goods offshore as Amazon had no warehouse in the country. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2017
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Amazon starts Australian trial after months of hype

SYDNEY: Amazon.com’s Australian arm began an order-taking trial on Thursday, giving life to the hype which has preceded its arrival in the world’s No. 12 economy and weighed on the shares of the brick-and-mortar retail sector.
The trial kicked off at 3pm with the Amazon Australia website’s search box filling in product names automatically. A representative for Amazon, which has never given a start date for Australia, declined to comment.
“It’s obviously working because auto-population is there,” said Liz Cassidy, founder of Amazon-registered beauty products retailer Third Sigma.
Cassidy, who already sells product overseas via Amazon, said she had made no Australian sales in the first hour, but noted that the trial involved a limited number of shoppers.
Australia has long had Amazon-registered sellers but they have been limited to sending goods offshore as Amazon had no warehouse in the country. Until now, Australians have had to wait long periods and pay sizable shipping costs for deliveries.
While online vendors are excited about the opportunities, Australia’s more traditional shopkeepers have faced pressure to convince investors they can compete against the US giant since it confirmed its plans for Australia in April.
Shares of Harvey Norman, Australia’s biggest electronics retailer, are down 9 percent since April 17, the day before Amazon said it was coming to Australia. Shares of Australia’s biggest department store chain Myer Holdings Ltd. are down 39 percent.
“It’s not as if the majority of retailers in Australia are making a fortune and growing their businesses,” said Gerry Harvey, executive chairman of Harvey Norman.
“If you’re in clothes and shoes and handbags, you can’t take a lot more pressure.”
Amazon set up its warehouse in Australia’s second-biggest city of Melbourne, on the east coast where four-fifths of the country’s 24 million people live.
Shoppers will watch delivery times closely with Christmas just around the corner.
“It will be really interesting to see whether it lives up to the hype,” said Tim McKinnon, the Australian managing director for eBay Inc, an Amazon competitor.
Some shoppers took to social media to voice frustration that the Amazon Australia website had not begun taking orders publicly.


Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank forced to close by US sanctions

Updated 19 September 2019

Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank forced to close by US sanctions

  • Jammal Trust Bank is accused of helping to fund the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon
  • The bank has 25 branches in Lebanon and representative offices in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Britain

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank has been forced to wind itself down after being hit last month by US sanctions for allegedly helping to fund the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, the bank said on Thursday.
The central bank said the value of the bank’s assets, and its share of the national deposit guarantee body, were “in principle enough to pay all deposits and commitments.”
Jammal Trust Bank denied the US allegations in August after the bank and its subsidiaries were hit with sanctions, accused of helping to fund the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.
“Despite its sound financial situation ... and its full compliance with banking regulations, the (bank) was forced to take the decision to liquidate itself in full coordination with the central bank,” Jammal Trust said in a statement.
The bank has 25 branches in Lebanon and representative offices in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Britain, its website says.
It is a relatively small lender, with net assets of 1,600 billion Lebanese pounds ($1 billion) at the end of 2017, according to the annual report on the latest year for which data is available.
Washington has sought to choke off Hezbollah’s funding worldwide, with sanctions among a slew of steps against Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.