17/02/2009 - 06:44

Today's Business Headlines

17/02/2009 - 06:44

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OZ Minerals agrees $2.6bn Chinese bid; Watchdog slams power merger; Wary Wesfarmers sees glimmer of hope for Coles; Windimurra on the brink as directors quit; Tax hike to fund dental care plan

Today's Business Headlines

OZ Minerals agrees $2.6bn Chinese bid
OZ Minerals shares will today trade for the first time since late November after the beleaguered miner agreed to a highly conditional $2.6 billion takeover bid from China's Minmetals. Sydney Morning Herald

Watchdog slams power merger
The state's economic regulator has stepped up his attack against government plans to reunite electricity generator Verve and retailer Synergy, warning it would not help guarantee WA's energy supplies and would lead to higher electricity prices and scare away private investors. The West

Wary Wesfarmers sees glimmer of hope for Coles
Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder has given his nine divisional bosses two months to come up with new plans for how to run their diverse businesses should the economy seriously worsen.

Windimurra on the brink as directors quit
Windimurra Vanadium's woes worsened yesterday when two more directors jumped ship amid fears the cash-strapped miner may have to call in administrators. The West

Tax hike to fund dental care plan
Australians face bigger tax bills to fund their future health needs and the commonwealth could take control of hospitals from the states under major reforms being considered by Kevin Rudd. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 6: The state's economic regulator has stepped up his attack against government plans to reunite electricity generator Verve and retailer Synergy, warning it would not help guarantee WA's energy supplies and would lead to higher electricity prices and scare away private investors.

Australia's biggest honey producer has warned that extreme weather conditions in the eastern states could reduce supplies and push up prices.

Page 7: Julie Bishop surrendered to her internal detractors yesterday, quitting as shadow treasurer after only five months in the job but insisting it was her decision.

Page 9: Telstra will roll out what is says is the world's fastest wireless broadband network over the next two months.

Page 10: The Rudd government's efforts to stave off recession and minimise the budget deficit have been made even more difficult after new figures revealed Japan's economy is collapsing at its fastest rate in almost four decades.

Page 11: Another 330 WA mining jobs will be lost next month when the world's biggest nickel miner closes its two remaining Australian mines less than two years after spending more than $7 billion to buy into the state.

Perth property developer is facing ruin after BHP Billiton's decision to close its Ravensthorpe nickel plant forced him to slash the price of land in Hopetoun by $160,000 a block.

Page 12: Taxpayers face being slugged another $500 a year on average to fund a national dental care scheme being considered by the federal government.

Business: Cashed up China Inc has strengthened its grip on Australia's resources sector for the second time in less than a week after yesterday launching a $2.6 billion takeover bid for debt-stricken OZ Minerals.

Chinalco began its lobbying offensive in the West yesterday as senior members of the Chinese government-owned aluminium giant met the WA government and state opposition to talk up the merits of its proposed $30 billion investment in Rio Tinto.

Windimurra Vanadium's woes worsened yesterday when two more directors jumped ship amid fears the cash-strapped miner may have to call in administrators.

Futuris Corp chief Malcolm Jackman said last night he was "very confident" the group could offload the rest of its stake in cattle producer Australian Agricultural Company after striking a deal to sell 19.9 per cent to prominent QC Allan Myers.

Automotive Holdings Group chief Bronte Howson says the country's biggest automotive retailer faces a sunnier outlook after a nightmare six months, with hopes that falling interest rates, lower petrol prices and the Rudd government's latest stimulus package will overshadow further fallout from the global slowdown.

Drilling supplier Imdex yesterday baulked at providing profit guidance for the next six months, citing market volatility and uncertain conditions.

Wesfarmers is preparing to widen a pilot program, for its new-look Coles stores, taking another important step to finalising the multi-billion-dollar refurbishment which is seen as a key plank of its five-year recovery plan for the grocery retailer.

It was good news and bad news for gold miner St Barbara yesterday as it won support from institutional investors but warned it might book write-downs of up to $25 million for the past six months.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder has given his nine divisional bosses two months to come up with new plans for how to run their diverse businesses should the economy seriously worsen.

An aggressive push by China to take advantage of the economic downturn by seizing control of Australian resources has escalated after Minmetals unveiled a $2.6 billion takeover of the debt-laden OZ Minerals.

Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull sought to end the damage to the coalition's economic credibility yesterday by naming Joe Hockey to replace struggling shadow treasurer Julie Bishop, in a reshuffle that provoked anxiety within the Liberal Party's conservative wing.

Page 3: Consumers will gain new powers to challenge unfair contracts under a federal government plan to unify nine different customer protection laws one year earlier than planned.

The fall into receivership of another car parts maker has prompted a warning that the sector faces a critical squeeze on bank finance, along with reduced orders caused by car makers cutting production.

Page 5: The pace of household borrowing appears to be picking up in a sign that big interest rate cuts, lower living costs and government handouts are working to restore some appetite for debt.

Page 6: The aged care industry's hopes that the Rudd government might allow nursing homes to charge accommodation bonds have been buoyed after the idea was floated by the health car review.

Page 9: Macquarie Group has taken a bloody nose in its painful relationship with Beaconsfield gold mine in Tasmania as legal costs of a failed defamation action are being estimated to cost the group up to $4 million.

Page 11: The dour economic outlook has scuttled the West Australian Symphony's $1.7 million tour to Japan in May.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Australians face bigger tax bills to fund their future health needs and the commonwealth could take control of hospitals from the states under major reforms being considered by Kevin Rudd.

Malcolm Turnbull has put the ''formidable communicator'', Joe Hockey, at the centre of the Coalition's political economic attack after Peter Costello refused the job of Treasury spokesman.

The $500 million Murray River water buyback deal that secured senator Nick Xenophon's vote for the Rudd Government's $42 billion fiscal stimulus package will be stymied by Victoria's refusal to lift a cap on how much water can be sold.

A massive fall in Japan's economy in the final three months of last year has increased the chance of Australia also sinking into recession.

Page 3: Macquarie Bank has lost a defamation claim against The Australian over coverage of the bank's involvement in the Beaconsfield gold mine.

Banks will not be prevented from slugging customers with fees for using a competitor's automatic teller machine, despite concerns from consumer advocates.

Housing affordability has posted its second-biggest improvement on record, making it cheaper to buy or own a home than at any time in the past five years.

Page 4: A slump in Japan's economy in the final three months of last year has increased the chance that Australia will sink into recession.

Page 5: Accommodation bonds are back on the aged care agenda, with a government commission calling for extra funding options to give the old and frail more choice.

Business: China has made another grab for Australian resources assets with a state-owned company announcing a $2.6 billion takeover offer for the struggling OZ Minerals.

China Minmetals Corporation, the country's largest metal trader, has been trying for years to land a big foreign target.

Japan faced '' the worst economic crisis of the post-war period'', Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said yesterday after the national economy shrank 3.3 per cent in real terms in the final three months of last year.

Wesfarmers chief Richard Goyder is continuing to talk up the prospects for a turnaround at troubled retail acquisition Coles while drawing up contingency plans to ensure the company can respond to a prolonged economic downturn.

BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam expansion boss, Graeme Hunt, is leaving the miner and will not be replaced -- the clearest sign yet BHP has put its $US15 billion-plus ($23 billion) plan to build the world's biggest open pit on the back burner.

James Packer's dwindling empire has taken another hit with the Challenger Financial Services group reporting a $107 million half-year loss after the value of its funds under management tanked.

Futuris is selling 19.9 per cent of its 43 per cent stake in Australian Agricultural Co (AAco) to high-profile lawyer Allan Myers in a deal worth about $90 million.

GPT Group has become the latest property group to adjust its balance sheet to reflect the economic downturn by writing down the book value of its assets by $1.4 billion, including $700 million on its Babcock & Brown joint venture in Europe.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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