12/11/2008 - 06:47

Today's Business Headlines

12/11/2008 - 06:47

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Analyst attack savages Asciano; Gillard widens childcare probe; More hurdles for Kimberley LNG plant; Jobs more important than credit rating - union; General Motors, AIG troubles spook sharemarkets

Today's Business Headlines

Analyst attack savages Asciano
Port and railways infrastructure group Asciano last night rushed to reassure investors that it was under no pressure to refinance debt after its share price crashed to levels that left the company effectively ''worthless'' according to one analyst. The Australian

Gillard widens childcare probe
Julia Gillard has sent forensic accountants into failed childcare group ABC Learning Centres as part of a growing investigation into the company's collapse that includes the corporate watchdog. The Australian

More hurdles for Kimberley LNG plant
More doubt has been placed on the state government's push to build an LNG hub at North Head in the Kimberley, with the release of a federal government report finding the local marine environment contains unique ecological features and is a haven for vulnerable species. The West

Jobs more important than credit rating: union
Unions have urged the state government to adopt Labor's multi-billion-dollar infrastructure program as a way to protect jobs, even if this meant driving the budget into deficit or costing WA its much-vaunted triple-A credit rating. The West

General Motors, AIG troubles spook sharemarkets
Fears over the cascading fallout from the global credit crunch rattled Asian markets yesterday amid mounting woes at big US financial institutions and car giant General Motors, while the bankruptcy of a leading US retailer stoked worries about the deepening recession in the world's largest economy. The Fin Review

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The $2.2 billion expansion of Alcoa's Wagerup alumina refinery in the South West, which was to have created thousands of jobs and generated millions of dollars in tax revenue, has been shelved because the global financial crisis has crushed demand.

Page 3: Drink manufacturers would be able to add fluoride to bottled water under a proposal from the Australian food regulator aimed at countering tooth decay because health authorities believe the popularity of bottled drinks means people consume less fluoride-enhanced tap water.

Page 4: Unions have urged the state government to adopt Labor's multi-billion-dollar infrastructure program as a way to protect jobs, even if this meant driving the budget into deficit or costing WA its much-vaunted triple-A credit rating.

Business confidence has plunged below levels seen in the last recession 17 years ago amid signs that companies are set to lay off tens of thousands of workers in coming months.

Page 5: The crippled ABC Learning empire is to be carved up, with Education Minister Julia Gillard yesterday inviting rival providers to take over its child-care centres.

Page 6: Mining giants Fortescue Metals group and BHP Billiton are suing the WA registrar of Aboriginal sites for placing part of Port Hedland harbour on the Aboriginal heritage list.

More doubt has bee placed on the state government's push to build an LNG hub at North Head in the Kimberley, with the release of a federal government report finding the local marine environment contains unique ecological features and is a haven for vulnerable species.

WA gas prices could be five times higher than those on the east coats if the North West Shelf partners were not forced to market their share separately, a group representing WA's biggest gas users said yesterday.

Page 14: Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore should not be excluded from dealing with issues relating to BHP Billiton and Woodside despite his wife holding shares in them, Colin Barnett told parliament yesterday.

Page 16: A top federal Treasury official says it would have been pointless to model the impact of Australia going it alone on emissions trading because actions by other nations to cut greenhouse gases are inevitable.

Business: Global shares sank to their lowest point in nearly two weeks yesterday, amid signs that business confidence has hit a record low.

Shares in agribusiness investment manager Timbercorp fell to a five-year low yesterday, after the group warned its full-year profit had taken a haircut thanks to a $19 million provision for two of its underperforming managed projects.

Listed Perth stockbroker Euroz is set to face off against millionaire car dealer Bruce Drummond in a two-year trial next year over Mr Drummond's claim the broker gave him "unsound" advice which led to him losing an $8 million share portfolio in the Opes Prime collapse.

China's trade surplus swelled in October to a monthly record but export growth weakened amid a global economic slowdown that has battered Chinese exporters, according to figures reported yesterday.

Pressure is building on Asciano to deal with rejected US takeover predators after the port and rail group's shares went into freefall and were placed in a trading halt.

The North West iron Alliance, whose members include several of the Pilbara's mining juniors, has poached former Association of Mining and Exploration Companies boss Justin Walawski to run the fledgling lobby group.

The Kerry Stokes-controlled Iron Ore Holdings has struck more iron ore at its Pilbara projects after intersecting Brockman-style ore at its Weeli Wolli project.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Fears over the cascading fallout from the global credit crunch rattled Asian markets yesterday amid mounting woes at big US financial institutions and car giant General Motors, while the bankruptcy of a leading US retailer stoked worries about the deepening recession in the world's largest economy.

Australian and New Zealand Banking Group's long-standing chairman, Charles Goode, will step aside for an external placement and not seek a full term when he faces re-election at next month's annual general meeting.

Page 3: The federal government has cleared the way for failed child-care operator ABC Learning Centres to be carved up and sold, with Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling for expressions of interest.

Kevin Rudd's chief of staff will begin lobbying for Qantas Airways within three weeks in a surprise appointment that appears to skirt the prime minister's new lobbying code of conduct.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Julia Gillard has sent forensic accountants into failed childcare group ABC Learning as part of a growing investigation into the company's collapse that includes the corporate watchdog.

Households and businesses face a raft of tax hikes -- including a congestion levy to drive into the CBD from Sydney's north -- as the struggling NSW Labor Government raises an extra $3.6 billion to plug a gaping budget hole.

A senior state Labor minister has defied Federal Court action to lead a group of union officials into the site of Sydney's proposed desalination plant, against the will of the firm constructing it.
The American owners of local Ford and Holden plants will be laughing at the Australian "suckers'' who have handed them a $6.2 billion industry assistance package, former car company executives say.

Page 2: The federal Government's bank guarantee is putting a squeeze on state government fundraising for crucial infrastructure.

Page 3: Virgin Blue will slash its fuel surcharge by 20 per cent in recognition of the falling oil price.

A move this year by John B. Fairfax to cement his influence over the company that bears his name has seen him take a hit of at least $300 million to his personal fortune.

Page 4: The car industry is warning that the Government's $6.2 billion rescue package could be undermined by a $2 billion shortfall in available credit for car dealers.

Business conditions slumped last month, with forward orders dropping further than at any time since the 1991 recession.

The credit crisis and falling Chinese demand for commodities continues to bite the resources sector, with two more major project expansions in Western Australia put on hold.

Page 5: Evidence justifies a coronial finding that Beaconsfield Gold Mine failed to assess the adequacy of ground support in the lead-up to the death of miner Larry Knight, a court has heard.

Australia's $60 billion coal industry, long painted as the villain in the climate change debate, will launch a fight back campaign today.

Business: Port and railways infrastructure group Asciano last night rushed to reassure investors that it was under no pressure to refinance debt after its share price crashed to levels that left the company effectively '' worthless'' according to one analyst.

World equity markets plunged yesterday after a new round of bleak company and economic news proved too much for nervous investors, who were just beginning to see hope in China's massive rescue package.

The Commonwealth Bank is rapidly shedding its premium rating, amid mounting concern about provisioning levels and speculation the bank will have to raise capital to meet more conservative investor benchmarks.

As more of the world falls into financial turmoil, China is hoping that an infrastructure spending spree can help sustain its long record of expansion and rising prosperity.

CBH Resources is one step away from placing its flagship Endeavour zinc mine on care and maintenance, but remains optimistic it will survive the downturn.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy has posted a small quarterly loss, despite reaching maximum production at its flagship mine in Namibia, Africa.

Embattled insurer IAG has indicated it is willing to negotiate with a fresh buyer as it implements a turnaround strategy to rebuild its flagging profit.

ANZ Bank will step up its board renewal process next week with the release of its notice of annual meeting, which is expected to reveal a number of new faces putting themselves up as board-sponsored candidates.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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