05/12/2008 - 07:01

Today's Business Headlines

05/12/2008 - 07:01

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Gas reserve 'puts off explorers'; Call for Canberra to steer energy projects; Banks will take control of B&B; Senate resists Rudd's $26bn building plan; Rio dives 11pc on growing debt fears

Gas reserve 'puts off explorers'
The Productivity Commission has savaged WA's controversial gas reservation policy, claiming it may cut the supply of gas available for domestic consumption by reducing the financial incentive for companies to expand their existing operations or develop new fields. The West

Call for Canberra to steer energy projects
Almost $100 billion of proposed oil and gas projects could be fast-tracked under a controversial proposal for the federal government to assume control of the approval process for new energy developments. The Fin Review

Banks will take control of B&B
The banks that have bailed out Babcock & Brown are likely to end up owning a chunk of the debt-laden group as it seeks to secure a more financially secure future. Sydney Morning Herald

Senate resists Rudd's $26bn building plan
The federal government's infrastructure agenda was in disarray last night after the coalitions stymied its $26 billion plan to create three nation-building funds and challenged moves to help the states take on billions of dollars in debt for new projects. The Fin Review

Rio dives 11pc on growing debt fears
Rio Tinto shares plunged to a fresh four-and-a-half-year low yesterday as investors sold down the Pilbara's biggest iron ore producer on fears its massive debt burden was becoming too hard to handle. The West

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: WA's booming economy has been stopped in its tracks, with the state's peak business group slashing its growth forecasts and company confidence plunging to record depths.

Page 3: Children of foreign workers are putting a huge burden on state schools because of poor English skills and the federal government had no plan to deal with the problem, Liberal MP Mike Nahan said yesterday.

Page 4: Under-Treasurer Tim Marney has warned his staff in an email that the Department of Treasury and Finance will not be immune from the government's 3 per cent efficiency cuts and will achieve them by dumping contracted temporary staff and cutting the use of consultants.

Treasurer Troy Buswell revealed yesterday that state governments around Australia were having difficulty raising long-term loans because of the Commonwealth government's bank deposit guarantee.

The state government will publish the number of beds available at Perth's major hospitals in what it says is s step towards meeting the federal government's demand that states perform better on health in return for funding.

Page 5: South West businessman Preston Gardiner will shut the doors on his mechanical business today as he battles to overcome a $500,000 loss incurred after the Varanus Island gas explosion.

Page 12: The Productivity Commission has savaged WA's controversial gas reservation policy, claiming it may cut the supply of gas available for domestic consumption by reducing the financial incentive for companies to expand their existing operations or develop new fields.

Parents with children at ABC Learning Centres are expected to find out today if the childcare centres will close next year.

Page 17: Esperance residents are still fighting for compensation from the state government nearly two years after the lead contamination crisis was uncovered when thousands of birds were found dead.

Business: Rio Tinto shares plunged to a fresh four-and-a-half-year low yesterday as investors sold down the Pilbara's biggest iron ore producer on fears its massive debt burden was becoming too hard to handle.

Major investment banks around the world were showing the strain of the financial crisis yesterday with Macquarie Group, Japan's Nomura Holdings and Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse Group all announcing job cuts.

Banks are likely to emerge with a significant slice of Babcock & Brown as part of an emergency $150 million funding package aimed at heading off collapse for the struggling infrastructure group.

Shares in West Australian Newspapers Holdings fell sharply yesterday as investors reacted to Wednesday's sudden board resignations.

Investors in failed property develop Fincorp have signalled their intention to launch a class action against Sandhurst Trustees, the company's trustee.

WA's Pilbara remains on the radar for a major solar power project, despite the economic downturn, but it is unlikely any of the companies backing feasibility studies will commit until they have a clearer picture of the federal government's proposed emission trading scheme.

OZ Minerals has come clean with the market on its deteriorating financial position, with its November 30 snapshot revealing a net debt position of $678.4 million- some $200 million more than the market had suspected.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The federal government's infrastructure agenda was in disarray last night after the coalitions stymied its $26 billion plan to create three nation-building funds and challenged moves to help the states take on billions of dollars in debt for new projects.

Pressure for more substantial interest rate cuts is growing, as the worst car sales in 22 years and a plunge in building approvals underlined the threat to the faltering economy from weak household spending.

One of China's largest companies is in talks to buy coal producer Felix Resources for more than $3 billion as the slump in commodity prices triggers industry consolidation and foreign interest in Australian miners.

Page 3: A national charities regulator, a public register of all charities and greater disclosure of financial information are part of sweeping reforms proposed for the $85 billion non-profit sector by a federal parliamentary committee yesterday.

Macquarie Group sacked between 500 and 1,000 staff from its Australian operations yesterday - bringing an abrupt end to years of aggressive expansion that raised its headcount to about 14,00 staff.

Page 5: Almost $100 billion of proposed oil and gas projects could be fast-tracked under a controversial proposal for the federal government to assume control of the approval process for new energy developments.

Page 7: A 22 per cent slump in sales of new motor vehicles last month has fuelled industry calls for an urgent response to the $2 billion shortfall in automotive finance that is squeezing car dealers across the country.

Page 8: At some stage over the next four years the states will have to raise about $800 billion in debt - and they want Wayne Swan to take the risk involved in getting it.

Page 9: The federal government has bought more than $3 billion in state government bonds over the past three months, helping the states keep down the cost of infrastructure funding.

Treasury and the federal government's regulators have received a massive injection of extra funding and staff to respond to the global financial crisis.

Page 10: In the final hours of what was meant to be the last sitting day of the 42nd parliament, the federal government secured the passage of its Fair Work Bill through the lower house.

Page 14: The country's largest employer organisation distanced itself further from the federal government's workplace relations reforms, saying the Fair Work Bill could exacerbate the impact of the economic downturn and spark job losses.

Page 22: Japanese businesses cut investment at the fastest pace in six years last quarter as the global financial crisis darkened the outlook for exports.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Canberra's $10.4 billion giveaway may not be enough to save legions of smaller retail outlets from going to the wall as they battle the economic slowdown, a plunging dollar and what retail mogul Gerry Harvey calls a history of over-retailing.

Car sales and new home approvals have collapsed over the past two months, raising concern that the slowdown revealed in the September quarter national accounts on Wednesday has taken a sharp turn for the worse.

Page 2: Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's long-promised improvements to government transparency have edged forward with the release of draft legislation and two new websites.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Alan Oakley yesterday became the fourth editor of a major daily metropolitan newspaper to depart his job in as many months, as Fairfax Media faced a new round of turmoil.

Page 4: Banks are charging customers significantly more than they were seven years ago, when official interest rates were last at the same level as today.

Page 6: Business groups have warned that unions will exploit new access to employee records to pressure non-unionists to join unions and force up the pay rates of workers.

Babcock & Brown will offer a direct equity stake to its bank backers to free up cash flow as part of a radical restructuring to keep the struggling investment group alive.

Virgin Blue boss Brett Godfrey has warned consumers and regulators to be vigilant about competitive disadvantages from the proposed Qantas-British Airways merger.

A quarter of West Australian companies plan to sack staff in the coming three months as business confidence in the state collapses to its lowest level in a decade.

OZ Minerals has been burning through its cash, leaving the company with total debts of $1.0834 billion as it remains locked in negotiations with lenders over critical refinancing.

Macquarie Group has sacked almost 100 investment bankers and advisers in a savage day of job cutting across the diversified bank.

Telstra's campaign to win the federal government's $10 billion national broadband network deal has shifted up a ]gear, with the telco launching a volley of stinging criticisms at its competitors.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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