Today's Business Headlines

03/03/2009 - 06:34

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West can defy global crisis, says Premier; Contractors ready to roll as port project awaits nod; Four Pillars our shield; Iron ore mountains grow as China stalls; Macquarie sidesteps funds taint

Today's Business Headlines

West can defy global crisis, says Premier
Cashed-up companies are forming a "queue at the door" of Western Australia despite the global financial crisis as they try to snare some upside in the downturn, according to Premier Colin Barnett. The Australian

Contractors ready to roll as port project awaits nod
The WA government's $225 million Utah Point project to expand Port Hedland's iron ore export capacity will not be included in an audit of capital works projects and could receive its final tick of approval within days. The West

Four Pillars our shield
The Four Pillars policy, once described by former Westpac boss David Morgan as a ''pointless retardant of growth'', has been credited with shielding the Australian banking system from the worst of the global financial crisis. The Australian

Iron ore mountains grow as China stalls
Outside China's biggest iron ore port, Rizhao, in Shandong province, 10 ships sit waiting to unload their cargo. The Australian

Macquarie sidesteps funds taint
Macquarie Group has tried to distance itself from its family of listed funds as part of efforts to short-circuit a share slide on investor concerns that struggling funds were inflating the investment bank's debt demands and crimping profits. The Age

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: WA families will pay up to $270 a year more for private health insurance after the state's dominant fund, HBF, was given approval for an average premium increase of 7.95 per cent.

Page 3: Apartment towers up to 20-storeys could join the Raffles Hotel units on the skyline as the state government and local councils push ahead with plans to significantly increase residential development around Canning Bridge station.

Page 4: Treasurer Wayne Swan is softening up Australians for a possible recession with new figures showing the manufacturing sector in collapse and business profits tumbling.

The Australian sharemarket plunged almost 3 per cent yesterday to a fresh five-year low as investors digested news that the US economic woes were worse than expected.

Page 7: Unions say they will accept paid maternity leave being phased in if the federal government decides it is too costly to begin this year.

Page 10: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which is investigating the collapse of fuel technology company Firepower, rejected an offer of thousands of internal company documents stored on an abandoned computer earlier this year.

Business: The WA government's $225 million Utah Point project to expand Port Hedland's iron ore export capacity will not be included in an audit of capital works projects and could receive its final tick of approval within days.

Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service has downgraded to negative the ratings outlook for ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac because of the potential impact of the economic downturn.

China's state-owned Chinalco and Rio Tinto have kicked off a high-level charm offensive designed to win over investor and political support for Chinalco's $US19.5 billion ($30 billion) plunge in Rio.

Locomotive engineer Coote Industrial has cancelled its interim dividend and flagged the sale of some business activities, after reneging on promises to retrieve the $75 million owed by related group Greentrains before its half-year results released yesterday.

Telstra said yesterday it would sell its information technology services unit, KAZ Group, to Japanese group Fujitsu for $200 million.

Smaller-scale agribusiness players are set to take the limelight from their more established peers in 2009, thanks to a forecast decline in demand for traditional pulpwood products and the exit of major players from the managed investment scheme sector.

Windimurra Vanadium creditors will meet today for the first time, a fortnight since the Mid West miner collapsed under $200 million of debt.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd governments is bracing for a deeper economic downturn than expected because of weakening global growth, and investors have reacted to the latest forecasts by wiping $24 billion off shares.

Unions are pushing for a "buy Australia" clause to be mandated in federal, state and local government procurement policies as part of a plan to tackle the rapid rate of local job losses.

Page 3: Private health insurance premiums are set to rise by an average 6.02 per cent, the biggest rise in four years, after a federal government decision that will put pressure on policyholders.

Page 4: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is investigating whether the ban on short selling is being actively circumvented and will consider enforcement action against traders who are illegally shorting protected stocks.

The Four Pillars policy, preventing mergers between the Big Four banks, had improved the stability of Australia's financial system by removing the excessive risk-taking that accompanies competition for corporate control, Ian Macfarlane, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia said yesterday.

Page 17: Telstra is seeking to install infrastructure that its rivals say could make obsolete the equipment they use to deliver broadband to customers.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Bad debts and the global downturn are threatening the credit ratings of Australia's Big Four banks, while new figures show business profitability is suffering its biggest fall in almost two decades.

The global financial crisis has forced the Defence Department to shelve plans to buy billions of dollars' of military equipment, including a new $5 billion maritime surveillance system.

Outside China's biggest iron ore port, Rizhao, in Shandong province, 10 ships sit waiting to unload their cargo.

Page 2: Health funds have won government approval for the biggest rise in premiums in four years, adding more than $150 a year to the cost of standard family cover from next month.

ASIO is riding high and in the best shape in its 60-year history, according to its outgoing chief Paul O'Sullivan.

Page 4: The nation's major banks would have invested heavily in crippling US-style toxic debt products were it not for a lack of local funds amid the boom, according to former Reserve Bank governor Ian Macfarlane.

Canberra will plough almost $32 million into the nation's soils through new research programs, exploring their capacity to emit and capture greenhouse gases.

Page 7: Germany has rejected appeals for a single multi-billion-euro bailout of Eastern Europe, even after Hungary begged European Union leaders not to let a new '' Iron Curtain'' divide the region into rich and poor.

The Bank of England is set this week to begin ''printing money'' in a ground-breaking move that will mark its most forceful action yet to curb the slump in the economy.

Business: The Four Pillars policy, once described by former Westpac boss David Morgan as a ''pointless retardant of growth'', has been credited with shielding the Australian banking system from the worst of the global financial crisis.

The latest disclosure of the protections being installed in the Rio Tinto-Chinalco alliance is telling, as much because of the source of the insight as for the intent of the new layer of governance.

The number of jobs slashed by mining companies in response to the global downturn has moved beyond 10,000, with mining giant Anglo American's coal unit revealing more than 1000 job cuts in Queensland.

Macquarie Group shares yesterday tumbled to their lowest point in more than a decade, forcing the group to reveal it had no capital commitments or plans to increase its investments in listed specialist funds.

Noble Group's cash bid for Gloucester Coal raises fiduciary duty issues for the Gloucester directors -- whether to recommend acceptance or to persist with the previously announced merger with Whitehaven Coal.

The corporate watchdog has rejected calls from the banking regulator for it to encourage businesses to hold more cash to cushion themselves from the impact of future market downturns.

Chinalco president Xiong Weiping is expected to argue against any changes the Rudd Government might suggest to the $US19.5 billion ($30.7 billion) Rio Tinto rescue deal when he meets the Foreign Investment Review Board today.

Cashed-up companies are forming a "queue at the door" of Western Australia despite the global financial crisis as they try to snare some upside in the downturn, according to Premier Colin Barnett.

Bill Ireland, the ''overwhelmed'' founder and executive chairman of struggling Mariner Finance, says he expects to lodge half-yearly results this week, after the company's shares were suspended by the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday.

The US Government is overhauling its $US150 billion ($240 billion) bailout of American International Group in a bid to bolster the battered insurer, but its plan will expose US taxpayers to more financial risk.


STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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