13/02/2009 - 06:36

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13/02/2009 - 06:36

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Laws to change for $30bn Rio deal; Crisis talks try to save Rudd's $42bn rescue bid; Leighton profit off 56pc but firms on Macmahon; China Inc move to send shudder through ore negotiators; Suncorp expecting $180m bill

Laws to change for $30bn Rio deal
Wayne Swan last night scrambled to change foreign takeover laws in a sign the government will subject Rio Tinto's $US19.5 billion ($30 billion) alliance with a Chinese state-owned mining giant to unprecedented scrutiny. The Australian

Crisis talks try to save Rudd's $42bn rescue bid
One man stands between 10 million Australians and a taxpayer-funded handout after the Senate yesterday blocked Kevin Rudd's $42 billion economic rescue package. The Wes

Leighton profit off 56pc but firms on Macmahon
Leighton Holdings could yet buy more of Macmahon Holdings, despite taking a hit of at least $30 million on its 17 per cent stake in the WA mining contractor and engineer. The West

China Inc move to send shudder through ore negotiators
China Inc has secured its most strategic foothold yet in the WA iron ore sector, and enhanced the position but also becoming a joint marketer of Hamersley Iron ore. The West

Suncorp expecting $180m bill
Suncorp Metway says the combined cost of claims from the recent bushfires in Victoria and floods in Queensland is expected to be around $180 million. Daily Telegraph

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: One man stands between 10 million Australians and a taxpayer-funded handout after the Senate yesterday blocked Kevin Rudd's $42 billion economic rescue package.

Perth's public hospitals are planning major staff reductions, including the use of casual and agency nurses, as they struggle to trim costs to meet the state government's mandatory 3 per cent budget cuts.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday changed foreign investment rules before Rio Tinto announced a deal that could see Chinese state-owned Chinalco take a bigger stake in the mining giant.

Page 3: A law firm let slip that Facebook paid $US65 million ($99.04 million) to settle a lawsuit that claimed founder Mark Zuckerberg swiped the idea for the website from former college roommates.

Page 4: Donations continued to flood in yesterday, with more than 60 local businesses and community groups giving $791,000 to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Page 10: Colin Barnett is on a collision course with the world's two biggest miners after confirming yesterday that he expects BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to pay higher iron ore royalties on their WA operations, a move that would net the state's faltering finances and extra $300 million a year.

The Rudd government has raised doubts about its commitment to emissions trading by calling an inquiry to examine whether it should be the main weapon in cutting greenhouse gases.

Page 12: Unemployment has jumped to its highest level in two years despite an increase in the number of people in work as signs grow that the global recession is dragging down the Australian economy.

Page 14: High-profile property developer Luke Saraceni's proposed $150 million office tower in central Perth has become the latest victim of the global financial crisis amid warnings that almost 200,000sqm of city office space - the equivalent of five BankWest towers - is under threat.

The redevelopment of the WACA ground would be delayed by the global financial crisis but would still go ahead, chairman David Williams said yesterday.

Page 16: Controversial union firebrand Joe McDonald is facing gaol or a hefty financial penalty after the Court of Appeal overturned a 2007 ruling which had cleared him of trespass.

Page 18: A consultant could be paid up to $126,000 to review the Government Media Office despite Colin Barnett's election promise to slash spending on consultants, media and marketing.

Business: China Inc has secured its most strategic foothold yet in the WA iron ore sector, and enhanced the position but also becoming a joint marketer of Hamersley Iron ore.

Leighton Holdings could yet buy more of Macmahon Holdings, despite taking a hit of at least $30 million on its 17 per cent stake in the WA mining contractor and engineer.

Sharp falls in copper and aluminium prices as well as $US8.4 billion worth of asset write-downs has forced Rio Tinto to report a 50 per cent slump in full-year profit.

Gold is finding favour amid concerns about the effectiveness and inflationary impact of the US stimulus plan.

Nexus Energy has been forced to pay its biggest shareholder, Viking Shipping, up to $US17 million ($25 million) in damages form walking away from a deal under which the Norwegian group would have built and operated a floating production vessel for the Crux project.

Nylex, the company behind Esky coolers and Nylex garden hoses, is set to be pulled apart and sold after losing a long-running battle for survival.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd government has warned of confusion and a further fall in consumer confidence after the Senate rejected its $42 billion economic stimulus plan late yesterday, sparking an assault on the coalition for putting the economy at risk.

Rio Tinto and its Chinese partner Chinalco have promised to save up to 2,000 Australian jobs and provide a boost to the economy through the revival of a multi-billion-dollar investment program across a range of major aluminium and coal projects.

In just two months, banks have used the government's wholesale funding guarantee to raise close to half of their annual funding needs, with their rapid activity accounting for more than 10 per cent of global raisings.

Page 3: Nylex, manufacturer of garden hoses and the iconic Esky, is expected to be broken up and sold off after going into receivership as it struggles under a pile of debt and an economic slowdown which hit sales.

The Australian Taxation Office plans to shed thousands of full-time jobs and drastically increase outsourcing in areas including debt collection, tax refund management and business activity statements as part of a new efficiency drive.

Page 5: Treasurer Wayne Swan has reprimanded the chief executive of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Ralph Norris, over its treatment of bushfire victims and demanded that financial institutions demonstrate the "utmost compassion" for the affected communities.

Page 9: Unemployment has surged to its highest level in more than two years but employment remains steady, with the country so far avoiding big job cuts under way in other developed economies.

Page 13: Australia's largest independent oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum, has lost an attempt to slash its tax bill by claiming $553 million in hedging losses, after the Full Federal Court yesterday dismissed the energy giant's appeal against the Australian Taxation Office.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: A secret report shows Canberra would have baulked at the $20 million cost of a telephone-based alert system that would have given early warning of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires.

Australia faces the prospect of paying an extra $870 million for greenhouse gas emissions after Kevin Rudd's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and a new UN target for carbon pollution.

Rio Tinto on Thursday night confirmed it would sell $US12.3 billion worth of assets - including a minority stake in its flagship iron ore operation in Western Australia - to Chinalco in a deal to cut its massive debt pile.

Wayne Swan last night scrambled to change foreign takeover laws in a sign the government will subject Rio Tinto's $US19.5 billion ($30 billion) alliance with a Chinese state-owned mining giant to unprecedented scrutiny.

Page 2: One in five victims of the Victorian bushfires may not have had insurance.

A major shake-up of Emergency Management Australia, the body coordinating the federal government's disaster effort in Victoria, will proceed despite expert concerns that it would disrupt relief operations.

Page 4: The Commonwealth Bank has reversed a move to charge interest on the suspended home loan repayments of bushfire victims after Wayne Swan raised the issue with the bank's chief executive, Ralph Norris.

Page 6: Centrelink will be forced to apologise to more than 1,500 Victorian bushfire and north Queensland flood victims after letters demanding they provide identification were automatically mailed out by computer.

Page 7: Industry groups and the federal Opposition have seized on an inquiry called by Wayne Swan into whether Australia needs an emissions trading scheme as evidence the Government is softening its climate change policy.

The number of unemployed people has climbed to a two-year high and the outlook is likely to get worse, with business yet to announce large-scale layoffs in the wake of the economic crisis.

World: London: The Bank of England's governor has admitted Britain is in "deep recession" and signalled that it is ready to start printing money as soon as next month in aggressive, last-ditch moves to limit the slump.

Business: Rio Tinto's $US19.5 billion ($30 billion) alliance with Chinalco - delivering minority stakes in landmark Australian mining projects to the Chinese state-owned giant - faces unprecedented scrutiny from the federal Government.

A $239 million write-down on infrastructure projects and a 93 per cent slump in property development revenue has cut Leighton Holdings' first-half net profit by 56 per cent.

Rio Tinto's Chinese numbers are rich and the rhetoric confirming its arrangement with Chinalco even richer. But still the $US19.5 billion ($30 billion) package of asset sales and equity just doesn't quite add up.

BHP Billiton will step up its lobbying of the federal government in a bid to stop Chinalco taking a strategic stake in Australia's iron ore assets.

The scorching heat that has tormented the southeastern states in recent weeks had lifted beverage major Coca-Cola Amatil to a solid start to the new year, chief executive Terry Davis said yesterday.

Merrill Lynch ''secretly'' moved up the date it awarded bonuses for 2008 and richly rewarded its executives despite billions of dollars in losses, giving nearly 700 employees more than $US1 million ($1.5 million) in bonuses.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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