One.Tel directors bow to pressure

WHAT a week it has been in finance. The heirs to two huge empires, James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch, have gone from being badly misinformed One.Tel shareholders to potentially feeling the wrath of the Australian Securities and Investments Comm-ission. It appears the ASIC is not buying their “profoundly mis-informed” story.

Meanwhile, disgraced One.Tel managing directors Jodee Rich and Brad Keeling have bowed to pressure and agreed to give some of the $6.9 million bonus they took home last year towards meeting staff entitle-ments. It seems likely the 1,400 One.Tel employees will be looking for new jobs soon. The good news for them is a report by that believes the 1,000 or so One.Tel callcentre workers will rapidly find re-employment.

THE man tied up with both the One.Tel and HIH collapses, Rodney Adler, is still showing a brave face. After falling on his sword at Anaconda and assuring the ASIC he and his wife, Lynda, would give $7.7 million as surety in lieu of the royal commission into HIH fall, Mr Adler was seen at a $1,000 a head charity function.

AFTER months of attack and counterattack, Anaconda CEO Andrew Forrest’s role with the nickel miner has been pruned. At the company’s May 31 extraordinary general meeting, Mr Forrest agreed to leave at the company’s November AGM unless a replacement CEO can found be sooner. He will remain Anaconda’s non-executive deputy chairman.

Even though Swiss metals trader Glencore International had displaced South Africa’s Anglo American Corp – the company baying for Mr Forrest’s blood – the pressure proved too much. Anaconda chairman Norman Fussell and chief financial officer Michael Masterman have both been removed from the company.

PRESSURE has risen on the WA Government to cut taxes such as bank accounts debit tax and stamp duty on commercial property in wake of the New South Wales Govern-ment’s budget. The NSW Govern-ment dropped its BAD taxes – something it was not planning to do for another four years. But instead of cutting taxes, the WA Government seems set to raise them.

WA Treasurer Eric Ripper announced there would be a $485 million hole in the Government coffers. Speculation is mounting that businesses could be facing increased imposts, such as higher payroll tax. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has attacked the Government’s bookkeeping, saying the $485 million blowout was largely due to former Government pro-grams factored into forward estimates that have not been ratified and, therefore, not funded.

ONE Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson has won a small victory in her battle to keep former head of Australia First, Graeme Campbell, out of the Senate. At a meeting on Saturday, the state executive backed Ms Hanson’s motion to re-open nominations for the Senate ticket, increasing the chances of competition for WA party favourite Mr Campbell. The re-opening of nominations will delay the pre-selection ballot, which was to be held on June 9.

Ms Hanson said she wanted to entice more rural and small business candidates to nominate. She played down her previous concerns of Mr Campbell’s links to the right-wing League of Rights and her accusation he was a career politician.

HOSPITAL and health diagnostics company Mayne Nickless plans to move into pharmaceutical distribution and manufacturing, with a $2 billion share swap bid for generic drug manufacturer FH Faulding. The two-tier bid for the Adelaide group would result in Mayne being transformed into a $4 billion integrated health care company. Faulding’s main businesses are oral and injectable pharmaceutical products, consumer health products, pharmarcy retail management and distribution services, and hospital logistics management services. Its brands include Banana Boat, Betadine, Bio-Organics and Nature’s Own.

ABOUT two million casual workers last week won the right to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. The Australian Industrial Relations Commission granted the leave to casual employees who had worked for the same employer for at least a year. The decision was applauded by employer groups and unions, which claimed it would give about 1.2 million women maternity leave.

WEST Australian football teams again turned in appalling perform-ances, with the West Coast Eagles losing to Carlton and the Fremantle Dockers folding in the final quarter to lose to Richmond. Saturday’s 119-point drubbing means the insipid Eagles have lost their past six games by an average of 74 points. And despite statistics showing a team is more likely to draw on emotion and win a game after their coach has been sacked, the Dockers clocked up their 10th loss in a row. Once again the Dockers were competitive for three quarters of the match but lost it in the final quarter.

BHP cleared a critical hurdle in its $58 billion merger with Billiton. After winning the support of shareholders, the company won the conditional approval of the Federal Government on the guarantee that BHP’s chief executive and corporate head-quarters still call Australia home.

But the merger is not trouble-free, with the shock resignation of Billiton’s executive director of finance, Mick Davis, who played a central role in the deal. Mr Davis was expected to be the deputy to BHP Billiton chief executive designate, Brian Gilbertson, but will instead join Swiss resources group Xstrata.

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