05/02/2009 - 06:53

Today's Business Headlines

05/02/2009 - 06:53

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Battle lines drawn on $42bn plan; Fortescue to raise $77m for payouts; BHP slashes spending to combat metals downturn; Crisis picks up speed; GE Capital to axe 400 more jobs as part of revamp

Today's Business Headlines

Battle lines drawn on $42bn plan
Malcolm Turnbull has risked a political backlash by rejecting Kevin Rudd's $42 billion economic stimulus package, with Labor claiming he would rather blindly pursue extremist free-market theory than act to protect the jobs of 90,000 Australians. The Australian

Fortescue to raise $77m for payouts
Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group has stepped up its efforts to conserve cash by planning to issue $US50 million ($77 million) of new shares to settle disputes with shipping contractors. The Australian

BHP slashes spending to combat metals downturn
BHP Billiton has slashed next year's capital expenditure budget by 13 per cent in the latest sign that even the world's biggest miner is struggling in the wake of the unprecedented collapse in metals prices. The West

Crisis picks up speed
As the federal government and the Reserve Bank take unprecedented steps to keep the economy pumping, their efforts are being frustrated by a slew of bad news streaming out of corporate Australia profits are slumping and job cuts deepening. The Age

Small imports pressure local cars
New car sales fell by 18.5 per cent last month as the trend towards smaller fuel-efficient imports raised pressure on the three Australian carmakers and the federal government's $6.2 billion car industry plan. The Fin Review

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Kevin Rudd's $42 billion economic stimulus package was in serious doubt last night after Malcolm Turnbull declared the opposition would not support it.

Page 4: The Barnett government yesterday gave its clearest indication that it would merge electricity generator Verve with retailer Synergy, appointing former Western Power chief and disaggregation sceptic David Eiszele as Verve's new chairman.

Page 6: Cash-flushed consumers went on a household appliance and clothing shopping spree in December and may have saved Australia from falling into recession.

Page 7: Retail Traders Association boss Wayne Spencer has called on the state government to fast track its election promise to extend weekday trading to take advantage of the federal government's economic stimulus package.

Page 9: Perth needs a stadium that holds at least 52,000 people within 10 years to keep pace with the state's growing population, West Coast chairman Mark Barnaba has warned.

Business: BHP Billiton has slashed next year's capital expenditure budget by 13 per cent in the latest sign that even the world's biggest miner is struggling in the wake of the unprecedented collapse in metals prices.

Fortescue Metals Group has scored a major coup in its potentially disastrous battle with iron ore ship owners after striking a $US50 million ($77.3 million) settlement deal with one of the aggrieved parties.

CBH has ended a four-month search for a successor to long-time boss Imre Mencshelyi by appointing insider Andy Crane as the WA grain handler's new chief executive.

Lend Lease is the latest company to hit the cash-strapped market with a surprise $302.5 million capital raising, at $6.05, a price not seen but investors since November 1992.

Qantas yesterday announced its biggest profit slump since its 1995 listing as it confirmed plans to raise up to $600 million through an institutional placement and retail purchase plan.

Japanese giant Panasonic will slash 15,000 jobs and close 27 plants worldwide to cope with plunging demand for its TVs, semiconductors and other electronic products.

Commercial and residential property developer Australand Property Group has warned of another hefty drop in profit this year amid a challenging property market.

David Jones has beaten rival Myer to the youth fashion brand Industrie in an exclusive deal aimed at increasing its exposure to the younger shopper.

Gindalbie Metals chairman George Jones yesterday agreed that Chinese investors had saved the $1.8 billion Karara iron ore project, following near-unanimous shareholder approval of a $162 million investment in the company by Anshan Iron & Steel Group.

Uranium explorer Extract Resources is preparing for another challenge from its biggest shareholder, Kalahari Minerals, after it appointed Rio Tinto-connected John Main to its board in response to the sacking of its chairman Robert Buchan earlier this week.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The head of BHP Billiton has delivered a grim prognosis for the global economy but signalled the world's largest miner would capitalise on the economic downturn to acquire projects from distressed rivals.

Major business groups yesterday called for the Rudd government's $42 billion economic stimulus plan to be implemented as soon as possible in a rebuff to opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull's surprise vow to vote against the entire package.

Qantas Airways has been forced to raise capital at a heavy discount and to slash dividends as it prepares to ride out a prolonged slump in global aviation.

Page 3: New car sales fell by 18.5 per cent last month as the trend towards smaller fuel-efficient imports raised pressure on the three Australian carmakers and the federal government's $6.2 billion car industry plan.

An insider trader who was caught red-handed has pocketed almost $1 million after a court returned shares that had been seized by the corporate regulator.

Page 4: Lobby groups argue their political donations are not designed to buy influence but, rather, arte the price of access to the democratic process.

Page 5: Resource companies could be forced to repay millions of dollars in tax deductions after an Australian Taxation Office ruling yesterday that limits deductions under a federal petroleum tax.

Page 6: The biggest surge in retail sales in almost a decade has delivered a timely boost to federal government claims that its multi-billion-dollar handouts are supporting demand and helping stave off recession.

Page 7: A massive decline in business investment and a weaker than expected recovery in China loom as major threats to the federal government's hopes for the economy to avoid a recession over the next 18 months.

Page 8: Malcolm Turnbull conceded to his coalition members on Tuesday morning that he had fumbled the political strategy to deal with Labor's previous big economic initiative.

Page 10: Smaller contractors are poised to benefit from the $15 billion upgrade to school buildings announced as part of the federal government's economic stimulus package.

Page 11: Unions have urged the federal government to place conditions on any further economic assistance to business to limit job losses, including obligations to retrain staff and hire apprentices.

All major banks have passed on all the 1 percentage point official interest rate cut to mortgage customers, but credit card rates have been almost stagnant since September.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Malcolm Turnbull has risked a political backlash by rejecting Kevin Rudd's $42 billion economic stimulus package, with Labor claiming he would rather blindly pursue extremist free-market theory than act to protect the jobs of 90,000 Australians.

John Howard has directly rejected Kevin Rudd's notion that neo-liberal financial deregulation and the Bush administration are to blame for the global financial crisis.

Page 2: Delays in processing Freedom of Information requests have ballooned under the Rudd Government, which promised before its election to free up access to documents and improve transparency.

Andrew Jaspan, the former editor of The Age, who was dumped last year, broke his silence yesterday to claim Fairfax management sacked him because it did not consider him the right person to steer the newspaper as the company looked at massive cost-cutting.

Page 4: Retailers enjoyed record Christmas sales thanks to the Rudd Government's cash handouts, but the lion's share of the first stimulus package appears to have been banked.

Page 5: Thousands of people will be able to ''double dip'' and receive one-off cash bonuses of up to $950 twice because of an anomaly in the rules that puts them in two eligible categories.

Unions are worried the Rudd Government's $42 billion economic stimulus package may not be enough to stave off recession, and want to be directly involved in further policy decisions after years in the wilderness under the Coalition.

Business: BHP Billiton has delivered its lowest half-year profit in five years on falling demand and major asset write-downs and warned that any revival in demand from China would not be sufficient to boost commodity markets.

Qantas has more than halved its interim dividend, after reporting a 66 per cent slump in first-half profit to $210 million.

GE Capital will slash a further 400 jobs and dramatically reduce the size of its balance sheet in Australia and New Zealand as a result of a global restructuring and the winding down of its local Wizard home-lending business.

Retail giant Woolworths, after abandoning merger talks with hardware chain Mitre 10, is believed to be well advanced in a business plan to set up its own big-box hardware store chain to go head-to-head with Wesfarmers and grab a slice of the $38 billion hardware market.

If there was a bright spot in a dour outlook from the world's biggest miner yesterday, it was its view of the iron ore market and prospects for Chinese demand.

Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group has stepped up its efforts to conserve cash by planning to issue $US50 million ($77 million) of new shares to settle disputes with shipping contractors.

Shares in Fairfax Media, the Ten Network and APN News & Media hit record lows yesterday as pessimism continued to infect media stocks.

The Coca-Cola Company, parent of Coca-Cola Amatil, has left the door open for a higher bid for CCA by Lion Nathan, raising speculation that the brewer could lift its $8 billion offer launched last November to create Australia's largest drinks company.

Queensland Gas Company's former company secretary Mukesh Panchal has pleaded guilty to four insider trading charges.

Mark McInnes, chief executive of upmarket department store David Jones, remains bearish about the economic outlook, despite the Government's attempts to stoke up spending with handouts and drastic cuts in borrowing costs.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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