Today's Business Headlines

02/12/2008 - 06:55

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Business backlash over 'dangerous' union era; Rio Tinto may put brakes on Pilbara spending; China slump heightens export fears; OZ extends trade halt on debt fear; Stand-off looms after Barnett backs Esperance nickel exports

Today's Business Headlines

Business backlash over 'dangerous' union era
The Rudd government faces growing business condemnation of its plan to allow a return to industry-wide union bargaining and an umpire's decision at the end of negotiations that fail. The Australian

Rio Tinto may put brakes on Pilbara spending
Rio Tinto says it has deferred spending some aspects of its planned iron ore expansions in the Pilbara region of Western Australia but is pressing on with studies of rail and port works and yet to make a decision on future spending on the project. The Australian

China slump heightens export fears
Fears of a sharper slowdown in the Chinese economy increased yesterday as a record fall in manufacturing activity fuelled concerns about demand for Australian commodity exports, at a time when the world's major industrialised economies are sliding deeper into recession. The Fin Review

OZ extends trade halt on debt fear
Diversified miner Oz Minerals has taken the extraordinary step of suspending trading in its shares until the end of the year as it battles to strike a deal with lenders over the critical refinancing of $US560 million ($871 million) worth of debt. The Australian

Stand-off looms after Barnett backs Esperance nickel exports
Colin Barnett has set himself on a collision course with Esperance Port Authority, the local shire, community groups and his government departments, saying yesterday he supported the bulk export of nickel through Esperance. The West

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Australia's big banks are poised to increase their profit margins after today's widely expected cut in official interest rates, with at least three refusing to guarantee that they will pass on all of the reduction to borrowers.

Page 5: Colin Barnett has set himself on a collision course with Esperance Port Authority, the local shire, community groups and his government departments, saying yesterday he supported the bulk export of nickel through Esperance.

Page 9: State elections will be held every four years, in February or March, under legislation to be introduced by the Liberal-Nationals government and supported by the Labor opposition.

Page 11: Perth motorists look set to enjoy petrol prices below $1 a litre for at least six months as the global economic slowdown curbs demand for oil, analysts say.

Page 14: Tax breaks for carbon sink forests are set to be implemented after Nationals senators, who believe the scheme will have a devastating effect on agriculture, failed to convince Liberal colleagues to vote against it.

Page 17: The forced sale of Perth houses at opposite ends of the property market underlines how the economic downturn is hitting luxury and budget homes alike.

Page 18: A planned $50 million hotel complex on Rottnest Island has become bogged down with contractual issues, sparking claims the development may not proceed.

Business: The historic Elders name will return to the trading boards after a 12-year absence as part of a series of measures aimed at rebuilding Futuris' reputation with investors.

OZ Minerals' arm, wrestle with its lenders on the refinancing of $850 million in debt is set to become a prolonged affair, prompting the miner to ask that its already battered shares be suspended from trading pending an agreement.

Mount Gibson Iron has warned shareholders to approve an emergency $162.5 million capital raising to prevent the troubled Mid West Miner from ceasing a "going concern".

Great Southern has struck a deal to sell its Queensland pulpwood plantations to a private investment fund for $23 million as it awaits the outcome of a vote on a crucial restructure of its business model.

Leighton shares plunged more than 7 per cent yesterday as the group announced a delay on a major contract in Dubai, adding to growing signs of a significant slowdown in the Emirates.

Global market unrest has driven listings on the Australian Securities Exchange to a record low.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Fears of a sharper slowdown in the Chinese economy increased yesterday as a record fall in manufacturing activity fuelled concerns about demand for Australian commodity exports, at a time when the world's major industrialised economies are sliding deeper into recession.

Oil and Gas producers have called for the Council of Australian Governments to overhaul complex regulatory and approvals processes to fast-track up to $100 billion of new projects.

Page 3: The chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, John Laker, says he will not curtail the level of remuneration paid to bank executives such as Macquarie group's Nicholas Moore but will crack down on incentives that are too short-term and do not balance risk and reward.

Page 4: Housing affordability has begun to improve following deep interest rate cuts and softer house prices over the past few months, according o the Real Estate Institute of Australia.

Page 5: Power tool company Global Machinery Company has been forced into receivership by its banker, Westpac Banking Corp, after hardware retailing giants heavily scaled back the amount of shelf space given to its main brand, GMC.

A record plunge in manufacturing activity has highlighted the risk that a deep economic slowdown is underway, despite the huge boost to resource sector profits from commodities.

Page 6: The opposition has signalled amendments to the federal government's workplace relations bill to tighten the criteria for union rights of entry to workplaces, limit opportunities for arbitration of protracted wage disputes and restrict multi-employer bargaining for the low paid.

Receivers of ABC Learning Centres are preparing to close outlets that have a high number of places for babies, which drives up staff costs, the workers' union has claimed.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: China's president has issued a rare warning to the Communist party, telling officials the global economic crisis could shake its 59-year grip on power.

The Rudd government faces growing business condemnation of its plan to allow a return to industry-wide union bargaining and an umpire's decision at the end of negotiations that fail.

Page 2: Corporate bosses who blow the whistle on cartel conduct will be granted immunity from civil and criminal prosecution.

Page 3: Childcare centres that cater for a large number of zero to two-year-olds are being targeted for closure by the receivers of ABC Learning.

Page 4: The number of juvenile West Australian rock lobsters is now officially the worst on record, forcing tough new restrictions on local fishermen and jacking up the price of a delicacy many sandgropers take for standard Christmas lunch fare.

Page 6: The number of warnings and penalties levied on employers for breaching the controversial 457 visa program has exploded in the past three years, backing union claims that the scheme is widely exploited.

Business: Diversified miner Oz Minerals has taken the extraordinary step of suspending trading in its shares until the end of the year as it battles to strike a deal with lenders over the critical refinancing of $US560 million ($871 million) worth of debt.

Shares in Fortescue Metals group surged as much as 42 per cent yesterday in a market awash with speculations of a takeover play by BHP or a deal with Chinese investors to take a stake in the Pilbara iron ore miner.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to cut interest rates again today, perhaps by as much as 100 basis points.

The credit crisis and slowing economy are creating new pressures for chief financial officers, spurring turnover and increasing demand for experienced financial professionals.

Futuris Corporation will abandon its investment company model and return to its grassroots, concentrating on its core agribusiness assets and changing its name to Elders.

Rio Tinto says it has deferred spending some aspects of its planned iron ore expansions in the Pilbara region of Western Australia but is pressing on with studies of rail and port works and yet to make a decision on future spending on the project.

Macquarie Group is preparing a savage cut of its Australian and global workforce.

Software company MYOB has rejected a $400 million-plus takeover offer from a private equity consortium and says it is talking with other potential suitors.

Insurance Australia Group will lift its stake in the general insurance arm of its Malaysian joint venture as part of an asset restructure after a 22 per cent drop in the JV's 2008 profit.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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