24/03/2009 - 06:29

Today's Business Headlines

24/03/2009 - 06:29

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Prime position for Seven; Straits' Thai deal to finance metal plays; Failed port bidder floats legal action; ABC collapse cost 700 their job; China delay corners OZ, debt looms

Prime position for Seven
Kerry Stokes's Seven Network is to make a major expansion into regional television, taking a stake of about 15 per cent in Prime Media Group, the debt-riddled regional affiliate of Seven's metropolitan TV operations. The Australian

Straits' Thai deal to finance metal plays
Straits Resources will use its $401 million cash pile to scour Australia and South-East Asia for cheap copper and gold assets once it completes a major restructure that will involve ceding control of its Indonesian coal and WA salt projects. The West

Failed port bidder floats legal action
A Chinese-backed company is considering launching legal action against the West Australian government after being overlooked in favour of Japanese interests to build the $4 billion Oakajee port and rail project in the state's Mid West region. The Fin Review

ABC collapse cost 700 their job
Almost 700 employees at ABC Learning were sacked or resigned in the three months after the child-care operator collapsed owing $1.6 billion, documents reveal. Sydney Morning Herald

China delay corners OZ, debt looms
OZ Minerals' hopes that Canberra would wave through a $2.6 billion agreed takeover bid from China's state-owned Minmetals have been dashed, forcing OZ to ask its banking syndicate for further extensions on its $1.3 billion debt or face the prospect of voluntary administration. The Age

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 3: The corporate watchdog has claimed it first scalp in its crackdown on misleading or false financial rumours, banning a stockbroker for 18 months.

Page 4: The worst of global recession may not hit WA until next year, Westpac economists have warned, but US President Barack Obama believes there are "flickers of hope" that recovery could come faster than in previous downturns.

Page 5: Rising demand for locally grown meat and falling grains prices has led to a turnaround in the fortunes of WA pig farmers.

Page 9 You see them at Coles and Woolworths all the time - shoppers fumbling with their calculators or mobile phones as they work out whether the Wondersoft 18-pack toilet paper is better value than Sorbent's dozen rolls.

Page 16: Colin Barnett flew the new Department of Premier and Cabinet director-general to Perth after the election to encourage the long-time Liberal Party operative to apply for the post, a parliamentary inquiry was told yesterday.

Business: Straits Resources will use its $401 million cash pile to scour Australia and South-East Asia for cheap copper and gold assets once it completes a major restructure that will involve ceding control of its Indonesian coal and WA salt projects.

Regional stockmarkets soared yesterday ahead of a US announcement to purge as much as $US1 trillion ($1.43 trillion) in toxic bank assets and as Japan signalled more stimulus measures to resuscitate the world's second-biggest economy.

Lynas Corp shares soared 46 per cent yesterday on news the troubled rare earths hopeful had struck a peace deal with bondholders owed $US95 million ($136 million).

Funds were already draining from Macquarie Group's management trust before broker Richard Macphillamy sent an email that made it to the inboxes of dozens of traders.

Western Areas Exploration was desperately short of cash and relying on the financial support of Terry Streeter to survive when it stumbled on a "company-making" nickel opportunity in 1999, a Perth court was told yesterday.

Veteran project engineer David Nixon has joined the board of Brockman Resources, four months after losing the chairmanship of fellow Pilbara junior Atlas Iron following a shareholder battle.

China will continue buying US government debt while paying close attention to possible fluctuations in the value of those assets, a vice-governor of Beijing's central bank said yesterday.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: More than one million low-paid workers are facing only a modest pay increase this year after the Rudd government called for a cap on a rise in the regulated minimum wage as part of its "jobs first" approach to the economic downturn.

The federal government would lend to public-private partnership deals under proposals to address the shortfall in debt financing for toll roads, teaching hospitals and desalination plants.

The corporate regulator has taken its first scalp in the crackdown against spreading false market rumours but has also admitted it does not have all the powers needed to combat the behaviour.

The sharemarket closed above 3,500 points for the first time in a month yesterday, underpinned by the Obama administration's latest plans to purge the US banking system of toxic assets.

Page 3: Economists Ross Garnaut says tackling climate change should not cost jobs but admits the economic crisis has made it much harder politically for the Rudd government to start emissions trading next year.

Page 5: Executives would have to perform well for four consecutive years before they were entitled to long-term bonuses, the Australian Shareholders' Association has proposed, in a bid to ensure company returns are not illusionary or that executives do not walk away from failing companies with huge payments.

The federal government's plan to pay a $9000 tax bonus to 8.7 million taxpayers was legal because it has the power under the constitution to manage the national economy and spend "for the purposes of the Commonwealth".

After $500 million in fees, a 404-day trial, and 3.5 tonnes of documents, judge Neville Owen of the West Australian Supreme Court recalled the land of the giants in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels when he handed down his 2,643-page judgement in the Bell case last October.

Page 6: A Chinese-backed company is considering launching legal action against the West Australian government after being overlooked in favour of Japanese interests to build the $4 billion Oakajee port and rail project in the state's Mid West region.

Page 8: Australia's foreign investment regime and Chinalco's proposed investment in Rio Tinto have been the focus of talks between the federal government and a visiting senior member of China's politburo.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The Rudd Government has rebuffed a union push for a $21-a-week minimum wage rise, warning that an excessively large increase would lead to job losses and burden small business during the economic crisis.

Passengers and crew on a lunchtime Qantas flight from Melbourne to Sydney knew trouble was brewing when six heavily tattooed and muscular men became agitated and started using their mobile phones mid-flight.

Page 2: Kevin Rudd has delivered a cool verdict on the record of former president George W. Bush by welcoming the return of US leadership in battling the global economic crisis under Mr Bush's successor, Barack Obama.

The Rudd Government has demonstrated its free-trade credentials in advance of next month's G20 summit by asking the Productivity Commission to review Australia's laws to protect against "dumped" imports.

The compensation proposed for polluting industries under Australia's emissions trading scheme will contribute to the dangerous global rise of green protectionism, Ross Garnaut has warned.

The general manager of state-owned Chinese aluminium producer Chinalco, which is in the middle of a $US19.5 billion ($28.28 billion) deal to invest in global miner Rio Tinto, has been named to a cabinet post in the central government in Beijing.

Federal prosecutors have been forced to drop a charge against an aid worker accused of illegally carrying highly flammable gas canisters on a military Sea King helicopter that crashed and killed nine people.

Page 3: Multiple choice questions will feature in history examinations in the NSW Higher School Certificate for the first time from next year, following a review to bring consistency to exams and reduce student stress.

Kevin Rudd has reclaimed near-record levels of personal support at the end of parliament's autumn session, while Malcolm Turnbull has hit a low in his approval rating.

Page 4: The unions' claim for a 3.8 per cent minimum wage rise has collided with the most unfortunate circumstances.

Perth delicatessen and cafe owner Margaret Cruickshank predicts she will be forced to employ her casual staff for fewer hours if the Fair Pay Commission rules in favour of a minimum wage increase of $21 a week in July.

Page 6: The former Queensland Liberal leader who tore up his party's coalition agreement with Joh Bjelke-Petersen before the 1983 state election, yesterday backed the merger of the coalition parties in Queensland.

Business: Kerry Stokes's Seven Network is to make a major expansion into regional television, taking a stake of about 15 per cent in Prime Media Group,the debt-riddled regional affiliate of Seven's metropolitan TV operations.

The future of OZ Minerals rests with the Foreign Investment Review Board after it added China Minmetals' $2.6 billion bid for the struggling miner to its pile of delayed decisions last night.

The Australian share market extended its gains in the past two weeks to 12 per cent yesterday as investors embraced US plans to unclog credit markets.

A Sydney broker who was caught spreading false rumours about Macquarie Group via email has become the first person to be punished as a result of the corporate regulator's "rumourtrage" taskforce, which was launched a year ago.

Mining giant BHP Billiton believes Chinalco's $US19.5 billion ($27.8 billion) deal with its rival Rio Tinto will proceed, but it is concerned about the impact it will have on future pricing of key commodities.

Babcock & Brown has been very vocal in the claim that its descent into administration won't have any material impact on its operating subsidiary B&B International and that it will remain solvent and continue to trade. But does that claim stand up to scrutiny?

Straits Resources says it is well-placed for acquisition opportunities after selling a stake in its coal assets to Thailand's PTT International Company for $US335 million ($485.79 million).

The architects of the disastrous late 2007 sale of the Rubicon property empire to the Allco Finance Group structured the deal to enable them to receive $26 million in profit share from the combined company.

The US Treasury last night unveiled details of its $US1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) plan to purchase distressed assets to help a financial system that was "still working against recovery".

It might seem brave to open a mine in Mt Isa in the current climate, but Joe Gutnick, chief executive of US-based Legend International, says he is on track for a phosphate rock project that will need 1000 employees.

Gold Coast property developer Craig Gore is suing financier City Pacific for about $450 million over claims it last month unlawfully called in receivers to three of his companies.

The president of the European Central Bank says Europe does not need to boost spending more to combat the global financial crisis, throwing the bank's weight behind Europe's governments in their battle with the US over how to overcome the worst recession in a generation.

The American economy, and much of the world, face extraordinary challenges, and confronting these challenges will require extraordinary actions.

Suncorp Energy is close to acquiring Petro-Canada for about $US15 billion ($21.5 billion) in stock, uniting two of Canada's biggest oil companies at a time of tepid world demand for oil.

Shares jumped and the Australian dollar hit a 10-week high yesterday on bets that Wall Street would cheer a US plan to remove toxic bank debts.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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