20/03/2009 - 06:28

Today's Business Headlines

20/03/2009 - 06:28

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Budget cuts not possible - Buswell; Premier to sign-off on port plans for WA; IMF warns slowdown to worsen; BHP nets $4.8bn in US bond market; Telstra blocking rivals - ACCC

Today's Business Headlines

Budget cuts not possible - Buswell
The state government's economic policy was in tatters last night after Treasurer Troy Buswell conceded he would not achieve the controversial 3 per cent cuts expected to pay for election promises in this year's budget. The West

Premier to sign off-on port plans for WA
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett will sign a multi-billion-dollar agreement today with a Japanese-backed infrastructure group to develop a deep-water port to support the burgeoning iron ore industry in the state's Mid West. The Fin Review

IMF warns slowdown to worsen
The International Monetary Fund has issued a stark warning that the global recession will be even worse than its latest forecast of a 0.5 to 1 per cent contraction, unless strong measures are taken to save the world's banks. The Australian

BHP nets $4.8bn in US bond market
Despite having the best balance sheet in the business and strong cash flow, BHP Billiton has raised $US3.25 billion ($4.8 billion) in the US bond market for general corporate purposes. The Australian

Telstra blocking rivals - ACCC
The competition watchdog is taking Telstra to court, accusing Australia's biggest telecommunications provider of blocking rivals from accessing the copper wire that connects homes to its network. Canberra Times

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The state government's economic policy was in tatters last night after Treasurer Troy Buswell conceded he would not achieve the controversial 3 per cent cuts expected to pay for election promises in this year's budget.

Page 3: Verve Energy wants to resurrect two 40-year-old coal-fired power plants in Collie to help secure WA's electricity supplies because uncertainty over the federal government's emissions trading scheme has caused funding for new power stations to dry up.

Page 5: The state government has missed out on Infrastructure Australia funding to sink the railway line through Northbridge but the project may still attract federal funding from other sources within weeks.

A plan to turn Observation City into luxury apartments has been shelved by the hotel's Singaporean owners.

Page 6: China's push to build a $4 billion Oakajee iron ore port and railway network in the Mid West is set to grind to a halt today when Premier Colin Barnett endorses a rival infrastructure consortium backed by Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi.

Page 7: Mining giant BHP Billiton should have its WA operations closed immediately and investigated by an independent safety auditor, the Australian Workers Union said yesterday after the fifth death on a BHP site in eight months.

Page 9: The state government claims it has found a $166 million backlog in outstanding maintenance within WA's public schools.

Page 13: China has blocked the biggest-ever takeover of a Chinese company by a foreign multi-national dealing a blow to foreign businesses hoping to make acquisitions in the country.

Page 17: A growing number of West Australians are drowning in debt, with a national counsellor revealing it has been inundated with calls from Perth residents in financial distress.

Page 18: The federal government's workplace relations changes appeared headed for defeat after the opposition and independent senators won a key vote in the Senate last night to make more small businesses eligible to be exempted from unfair dismissal claims.

Business: The Australian dollar leapt to a two-month high against the greenback and global shares extended their promising rally yesterday as financial markets reacted to the US Federal Reserve's shock decision to undertake its biggest purchase of US Treasury bonds in nearly half a century.

The Korean-backed group at the centre of an ambitious plan to build a space station on Christmas Island is on the verge of collapse after two separate creditors moved to push the group's flagship company into liquidation.

Chinalco's brazen $US19.5 billion ($28.9 billion) rescue bid for the debt-laden Rio Tinto is threatening to derail some of WA's most important iron ore projects as political concerns increase over China Inc's buy-up of Australian resources.

International fund managers continue to sell out of equities and boost their cash reserves as the prolonged financial crisis minimises their appetite for risk.

Woodside Petroleum chairman Michael Chaney and Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder warned yesterday that new federal government curbs on executive pay could damage Australian businesses.

Computershare founder Chris Morris is a step closer to recapitalising one-time Colonial Brewing owner Empire Beer Group, taking control of the now-listed shell company with two of its former advisers ahead of a shareholder vote on a $2 million capital raising.

Atlas Iron will turn its attention to securing offtake deals for its Abydos project after yesterday announcing the final sales agreement over its neighbourhood Pardoo project in the Pilbara.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The International Monetary Fund has called for a new round of co-ordinated spending to revive the global economy, as the Federal Reserve also moved to boost the US economy by pumping $US1.15 trillion ($1.74 trillion) into credit markets.

Law firms are facing substantial revenue cuts as a growing number of corporate clients and the federal and state governments slash their legal spending to offset budget constraints and falling profits.

Page 3: Workers hoping for a pay rise this year can forget it.

A sharp fall last month in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index pushed down the value of median superannuation funds in February, increasing fears that the average loss for the year to June 30 will be multiple of the 6.4 per cent decline recorded in 2007-08.

Page 5: Taxpayers lost on average 5.9 hours preparing tax returns and businesses lost more than 12 hours to complete fringe benefits tax paperwork in 2006-07, the latest statistics show.

Page 6: Limits on golden handshakes could clash with new prudential rules encouraging banks and insurers to structure salaries to discourage executives from taking excessive risks.

Page 7: Company chairman Michael Chaney backed the Rudd government's move to cap golden handshakes to one year's pay.

Page 8: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett will sign a multi-billion-dollar agreement today with a Japanese-backed infrastructure group to develop a deep-water port to support the burgeoning iron ore industry in the state's Mid West.

Page 10: Western Australia's biggest meatworks has made a renewed push for employees to take a pay cut to avoid more job losses as questions emerge over the actions of its management and overseas-based owners.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The International Monetary Fund has issued a stark warning that the global recession will be even worse than its latest forecast of a 0.5 to 1 per cent contraction, unless strong measures are taken to save the world's banks.

The coalition last night adopted Peter Costello's position on unfair dismissal claims, shifting closer to Labor's proposed workplace laws - but the Rudd government's bill to overturn Work Choices was still destined to fail unless Julia Gillard agreed to a last-minute compromise today.

Page 2: Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has underlined the states' financial vulnerability, warning that three more risk joining Queensland in losing AAA status.

Housing starts suffered their biggest fall for nine years in the December quarter, dragged down by a savage 54 per cent fall in the number of high-rise apartments under construction in Queensland.

Another month of miserable returns in February has taken superannuation funds down again to post a record of seven losing months in the past eight.

Page 3: Two major hospitals have sought to reassure worried patients implanted with an artificial heart pump they will be adequately cared for despite the collapse of the maker of the heart device.

Fares on the once overpriced trans-Pacific route have hit new lows, with Qantas releasing an all inclusive $908 return fare from Sydney to New York.

Page 4: The liquor industry peak body that vocally opposed the Government's rejected alcopops tax donated almost $70,000 to the Liberal Party in 2007-08.

Wayne Swan has warned that property prices could fall "across the board" if the Senate does not back his plan to create a so-called Rudd Bank to protect commercial property owners from loss of foreign credit.

Page 5: Fears are rising of a global green trade war if Copenhagen climate change talks fail, after US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu suggested the Obama administration would consider "carbon tariffs" against countries that had not put a cost on pollution when the US introduced its emissions trading regime.

Julia Gillard has conceded for the first time that businesses face potentially big increases in wage bills as a result of the Government's push to '' modernise'' award employment standards.

Temporary skilled migrants appear to be evading job cuts, with figures from the Immigration Department showing no rise in 457 visa cancellations.

Page 6: Regardless of who wins Queensland's election tomorrow, the victor will stagger under the same $74 billion state debt - and similar budget deficits.

Page 7: A private security guard says the West Australian government was aware of the poor condition of vans used to transport prisoners across vast distances but was not prepared to update the dilapidated fleet.

Business: The US Federal Reserve has increased its efforts to revive the economy, yesterday declaring it would buy as much as $US300 billion ($440 billion) of long-term US Treasury securities in the next few months and hundreds of billions of dollars more in mortgage-backed securities.

The spectre of protectionism is casting a fresh pall over the global economic crisis and the $US19.5 billion ($28.78 billion) Chinalco/Rio Tinto deal, after China's new competition rules saw it refuse Coca Cola's plan to pay $US2.4 billion for privately owned drinks group Huiyuan.

Despite having the best balance sheet in the business and strong cash flow, BHP Billiton has raised $US3.25 billion ($4.8 billion) in the US bond market for general corporate purposes.

The flood of Chinese applications to Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board has forced the Asian partner of iron ore miner Gindalbie's to resubmit its request, adding potential delays to its flagship project.

The competition watchdog has launched legal action against Telstra for allegedly refusing rivals access to its copper network.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Storm Financial, the Victorian Families Retirement Investment Group, has been placed into provisional liquidation after Storm's receivers refused to touch it for fear the business could be subject to a series of large claims from clients.

About 200 executive contracts at the nation's top 100 companies could be in limbo this year as a result of the federal government's proposed legislation requiring shareholder approval for termination payments exceeding a year's salary.

Failure of superannuation and pension funds to take an active role as shareholders in banks helped to open the way for the bad management decisions that contributed to the financial crisis, a British pensions expert says.

It's an ominous day when the world's economic superpower starts printing money to buy its own government's debt.

Sun Microsystems has been at the leading edge of some of the biggest trends in computing since the 1980s, but the Silicon Valley company has often been a laggard at making money from them.

Federal prosecutors have brought fraud charges against the auditor of Bernard Madoff's firm on allegations he helped deceive investors by signing off on fraudulent financial statements.

IBM's negotiations to spend up to $US8 billion ($11.8 billion) on embattled Sun Microsystems are a departure from the strategy IBM chief executive Samuel Palmisano has long followed.

Spain's publicly traded banks have weathered the financial storm remarkably well so far - but that is only half the story.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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