18/02/2009 - 06:39

Today's Business Headlines

18/02/2009 - 06:39

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China's next targets: rail, roads, ports; Receivers poised as lender moves on vanadium miner; Rio to Rudd: jobs in danger; $646m loss changes landscape for Mirvac; Aboriginal jobs scheme mired in bureaucracy: Forrest

Today's Business Headlines

China's next targets: rail, roads, ports
The powerful chairman of China's $US200 billion ($307 billion) sovereign wealth fund, Lou Jiwei, has met Treasurer Wayne Swan and West Australian Premier Colin Barnett to clarify rules on foreign investment in resources and discuss whether China could help finance the Rudd government's infrastructure program. The Fin Review

Receivers poised as lender moves on vanadium miner
Investment bank Merrill Lynch was last night poised to appoint receivers to Windimurra Vanadium after losing patience with the struggling miner's efforts to secure an emergency fundraising. The West

Rio to Rudd: jobs in danger
Rio Tinto has told the Rudd Government that failure to approve the contentious $US19.5 billion ($30.4 billion) Chinalco rescue package could cost 2150 jobs and 750 planned ones, almost all in Queensland. The Australian

$646m loss changes landscape for Mirvac
One of Australia's biggest upmarket apartment developers, Mirvac Group, yesterday posted a $645.7 million half-year loss and signalled it would push further away from its mainstay of residential development and embrace ''passive'' commercial property investment. The Australian

Aboriginal jobs scheme mired in bureaucracy: Forrest
Mining magnate Andrew ''Twiggy'' Forrest has complained to Kevin Rudd that his plan to get 50,000 Aborigines into jobs is being jeopardised by federal government bureaucrats who are creating roadblocks and not sticking to their end of the deal. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 3: The Qantas group is to restructure its New Zealand and Chinese operations to counter the unprecedented economic downturn and try to stay profitable.

Page 4: Deep interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank may be over after it signalled it wants to see how the economy absorbs the onslaught of cash from its previous cuts and the Rudd government's $42 billion stimulus package.

Britain has an odds-on chance of suffering an even deeper recession than first feared, the Bank of England's deputy governor Charles Bean has warned.

WA's peak business group has warned the Rudd government against forcing companies that want to win contracts under the economic stimulus package to take on trainees.

Page 7: Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore has warned companies against speaking out publicly on plans to start uranium mining in WA, claiming it would only heighten community fears about the state government's decision to lift the uranium ban.

Page 9: A remote Kimberley police station named as a beneficiary of a $1.9 million taxpayer-funded broadband project has never used the satellite hardware installed near the station last year.

The price of bananas in WA has jumped sharply as floods in northern Queensland hit supplies.

Business: Investment bank Merrill Lynch was last night poised to appoint receivers to Windimurra Vanadium after losing patience with the struggling miner's efforts to secure an emergency fundraising.

The troubled Ten Network has denied its move to tap investors for an estimated $90 million in cash was driven by necessity, insisting it is in "strong financial shape" despite declining revenues and the woes of its cash-strapped Canadian parent.

WA's $390 million Mt Weld rare earths project could be on hold for up to a year, Lynas Corporation said last night, just one week after suspending work because of a funding dispute with bondholders.

Sound balance sheets and business models have helped engineering services companies like United Group and Monadelphous Group weather the storm that engulfed the resources sector last year.

OZ Minerals shareholders have deserted the embattled base metals miner, refusing to wait for Minmetals' $2.6 billion takeover to be approved and instead selling at their first opportunity in almost three months.

Foster's Group, the country's biggest brewer, will cut jobs and sell or mothball "non-core" vineyards and brands after ruling out a sales of its $5.5 billion wine business.

AXA Asia Pacific has warned shareholders to brace for another tough year after more than $700 million was wiped from its investment portfolio, causing the funds and life insurance giant to post an annual loss of $278.7 million, its first in nearly two decades.

Three months after Stuart Crofts stepped into the job at troubled civil contractor Brierty, he has warned that conditions for the industry remain "volatile and uncertain".

Atlas Iron will fast-track development of its Wodgina project in the Pilbara after striking an infrastructure deal with Talison Minerals that will enable it to defer about $20 million in start-up costs and be in production by January.

Market watchers with their eye on Pure Energy Resources were last night tipping everything from the emergence of a third bidder to a play for major backer and predator Arrow Energy after BG Group put nearly $1 billion on the table for the one-time WA domiciled coal seam gas player.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd government has awarded $553 million in new consultancy contracts since it was elected in November 2007, putting it on track this financial year to be the highest-ever spender on outside advisers.

Hopes of another big interest rate cut next month have been dealt a blow by indications Reserve Bank of Australia that it is inclined to proceed more cautiously in easing monetary policy as the effects of big stimulus measures feed through the economy.

The powerful chairman of China's $US200 billion ($307 billion) sovereign wealth fund, Lou Jiwei, has met Treasurer Wayne Swan and West Australian Premier Colin Barnett to clarify rules on foreign investment in resources and discuss whether China could help finance the Rudd government's infrastructure program.

Page 3: The global slump in air travel is forcing Australia's two major airlines, Qantas Airways and Virgin Blue, to cut capacity, axe jobs and slash airfares to as low as $1 to keep planes in the air.

KPMG yesterday axed 100 jobs across its Australian operations as it became the latest big four firm to slash staff numbers in response to the global financial crisis.

Page 10: GM Holden is set to bring forward the closure of an ageing Melbourne engine plant under a global, make-or-break restructuring plan being released today by its ailing US parent, General Motors.

Page 19: Foster's Group aims to sell 37 of its smaller wine brands, offload 36 vineyards and sack 300 people as it revamps its $4 billion wine division after deciding a demerger of its beer and wine businesses would shred too much shareholder value.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Mining magnate Andrew ''Twiggy'' Forrest has complained to Kevin Rudd that his plan to get 50,000 Aborigines into jobs is being jeopardised by federal government bureaucrats who are creating roadblocks and not sticking to their end of the deal.

Rio Tinto has told the federal Government that failure to approve the $30.4 billion Chinalco rescue package could cost 2,150 existing and 750 planned jobs.

Malcolm Turnbull's attempts to recast the Liberal Party, including knocking off the sitting federal president, are threatening to throw the organisation into the turmoil and divisions of the disastrous Howard-Peacock rivalries of the 1980s.

Up to 400 Virgin Blue employees will lose their jobs after the airline announced it would cut flights within Australia by 8 per cent.

Page 2: The Reserve Bank has held out the possibility of further interest rate cuts in response to the deepening global crisis.

There was a time a few years ago when Japan's best hotels and restaurants ordered more than a tonne a month of giant king crabs from Mulataga Aquaculture, a live seafood export business based at Perth airport.

Page 3: Home goods giant Radio Rentals has outraged consumer groups by banning customer credit history checks this month, in a bid to boost profits amid the financial crisis.

Page 4: Joe Hockey has moved to refocus the Opposition's economic message by accusing Kevin Rudd of being panicked by the global recession into wanting to stifle business with needless overregulation.

Malcolm Turnbull will tomorrow give a welcome and vote of thanks to John Howard before the former prime minister delivers the inaugural Howard lecture in Melbourne.

Page 5: Australia's second-biggest steelmaker says the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme is likely to cause job losses and force new investments offshore.

Nursing homes will be named and shamed if they fail to lift their game under a new warning system that will give consumers more information about accommodation for the elderly.

Page 7: The ACTU has split from a coalition of left-wing unions over their threat to lodge an international complaint against the Rudd Government for failing to comply with recognised workplace standards.

Business: Rio Tinto has told the Rudd Government that failure to approve the contentious $US19.5 billion ($30.4 billion) Chinalco rescue package could cost 2150 jobs and 750 planned ones, almost all in Queensland.

Foster's will retain its troubled wine division, opting instead to separate it from the beer division and reposition for growth rather than sell at the fire-sale prices needed to shift the asset in the middle of the global financial crisis.

A fragile free-to-air ad market appears to have jolted Ten Network Holdings into early action to raise up to $90 million in equity capital, after it yesterday revealed it expected first-half operating profit to fall by 28 per cent.

After being savaged by the market downturn with an 8 per cent fall in its first-half profit, Australia's effective monopoly stock market operator is pinning its hopes on the return of bond markets.

OneSteel has slashed its workforce by 650 in the past three months and is flagging more cuts as it braces for the current national downturn to worsen.

Amcor, the world's largest maker of plastic soft drink bottles, suffered a 30 per cent fall in first-half profit after write-downs, prompting investors to sell shares.

One of Australia's biggest upmarket apartment developers, Mirvac Group, yesterday posted a $645.7 million half-year loss and signalled it would push further away from its mainstay of residential development and embrace ''passive'' commercial property investment.

Axa Asia Pacific Holdings faces another challenging'' year after plunging to a well-flagged bottom-line loss in 2008, and slashing its annual dividend yesterday by 17 per cent.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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