AWB seeks merger with grain rival; States to get extra $7.7bn for hospitals; Reality check for BHP; Babcock locked in $3.1bn debt restructure talks; Toll mounts as India reels from attacks
AWB seeks merger with grain rival
AWB is seeking to join forces with rival grain handler ABB Grain in a $2 billion-plus merger that would create Australia's largest wheat and barley exporter. The Fin Review
States to get extra $7.7bn for hospitals
Kevin Rudd will pay the states and extra $7.75 billion to run their overcrowded hospitals and train more doctors and nurses over the next five years in an offer likely to seal the most contentious of the Council of Australian Governments funding deals. The Australian
Reality check for BHP
BHP Billiton has reinforced the rationale for abandoning its $135 billion takeover bid for Rio Tinto by flagging production cuts across its suite of commodities, including coking coal, as global economic conditions deteriorate. The Australian
Babcock locked in $3.1bn debt restructure talks
Babcock & Brown was last night locked in negotiations to convince its 25-strong banking syndicate to restructure $3.1 billion of debt. The West
Toll mounts as India reels from attacks
India's integration into the global economy has been jolted by the mass terrorist attack on the financial capital of Mumbai that left dozens of people still trapped in two luxury hotels last night. The Fin Review
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:
Page 1: India's financial capital of Mumbai was under siege last night after terrorists launched a devastating series of grenade and gun attacks on city landmarks, killing more than 100 people, including at leats one Australian, and injuring hundreds more.
Page 4: Kevin Rudd will offer to pay less than half the $167 million it will cost the state government to give every senior high school student a computer.
Page 10: Employees will be powerless to prevent union officials from examining their work records, including details of salary, under the Rudd government's workplace legislation because privacy laws offer no protection.
The Rudd government has flagged a follow-up stimulus package to its yet-to-bet deployed $10.4 billion spending plan as both Labor and the opposition leave the door open to cutting the GST in a bid to ward off a recession.
Page 12: One of the frontrunners to build the federal government's planned $4.7 billion broadband network has warned it will take legal action if Labor accepts Telstra's bid to construct the system.
Qantas will cut its fuel surcharge on domestic airfares by up to $5 following a fall in world oil and jet fuel prices.
Business: BHP Billiton has been quick to put the failed Rio Tinto takeover behind it, with chairman Don Argus making clear there would be no recriminations despite the $US450 million ($695 million) cost.
Babcock & Brown was last night locked in negotiations to convince its 25-strong banking syndicate to restructure $3.1 billion of debt.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is expected to examine share trading in CopperCo in the lead-up to the collapse of the emerging WA miner.
Timbercorp will fast-track asset sales, quit the managed investment sector and scrap its full-year dividend in a bid to cut debt levels and keep its bankers at bay.
Centro Retail Trust will push ahead with plans to distance itself from its ailing parent, Centro Properties Group, by appointing at least two new directors to create an independent board as it works towards securing relief from a $5 billion debt due in a fortnight.
Page 6: Kevin Rudd will pay the states and extra $7.75 billion to run their overcrowded hospitals and train more doctors and nurses over the next five years in an offer likely to seal the most contentious of the Council of Australian Governments funding deals.
The Rudd government faces a significant hurdle in passing key elements of its new workplace legislation after independent senators signalled they had problems with relaxing rules on union entry to workplaces and other proposed changes.
A massive backlog of business investment projects is likely to keep Australia's economic growth positive through next year, offsetting the weakness in consumer spending.
Page 7: Australian airlines are offering short-term fare waivers as they continue to cancel or reroute flights after civil unrest closed the second airport in Bangkok.
Business: BHP Billiton has reinforced the rationale for abandoning its $135 billion takeover bid for Rio Tinto by flagging production cuts across its suite of commodities, including coking coal, as global economic conditions deteriorate.
Copperco, which operates the Lady Annie copper mine in Queensland, has joined a growing list of junior miners calling in administrators as banks close their doors to debt refinancing.
The move by China's central bank to slash borrowing costs by the biggest margin in a decade is a strong signal that government efforts to support the economy did not end with the recent announcement of a massive stimulus plan.
Allco's struggling Record Realty Trust is looking for a new manager to inject fresh capital into the listed property trust, which is labouring under $1.76 billion of debt.
Babcock & Brown last night mounted a last-ditch bid to convince its banking syndicate to approve a short-term $100 million funding lifeline.
THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:
Page 1: Crucial support for the economy from strong business investment shows signs of weakening as companies wind back their expansion plans under pressure from the gloomy outlook and tightening credit conditions.
AWB is seeking to join forces with rival grain handler ABB Grain in a $2 billion-plus merger that would create Australia's largest wheat and barley exporter.
India's integration into the global economy has been jolted by the mass terrorist attack on the financial capital of Mumbai that left dozens of people still trapped in two luxury hotels last night.
The reality of running Qantas Airways rather than its budget offshoot Jetstar has hit Alan Joyce even before he takes over as chief executive.
Page 3: The Rudd government is considering increasing the number of industries that would receive free permits under emission trading following concerns its proposed scheme could force the closure of some businesses.
Page 5: The Rudd government's vow to create a seamless national economy is to be backed by a $500 million reform payment today when state treasurers are offered long-term funding to cut red tape and unify business regulation.
Page 9: Sixteen banks have lined up to borrow the federal government's AAA credit rating to raise funds offshore, but retail customers have shown little interest in paying for government insurance for their deposits.
Page 15: Mining company Kagara had already sunk $41 million into building a new base metals treatment plant at its Munganapolymetallic project in Northern Queensland when market conditions started to take a turn for the worse a few months ago.
Page 20: The federal government has proposed a meeting before Christmas between Trade Minister Simon Crean and his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, to accelerate troubled negotiations for a free-trade agreement.