30/03/2009 - 06:36

Today's Business Headlines

30/03/2009 - 06:36

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Barnett hints at shop hours change this year; China holds fire on OZ veto; 400 BankWest jobs under threat; Recession to blow out budget deficit; Banks crunch on depositors

Barnett hints at shop hours change this year
Shops throughout the state could open until 9pm weeknights by as early as the end of the year after Premier Colin Barnett said yesterday retailers had told him they wanted a consistent extension to shopping hours to match late-night Thursday trading. The West

China holds fire on OZ veto
The Rudd government's surprise decision on Friday to ban Chinese group Minmetals from buying into the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia on national security grounds appears to have blind-sided a confident Chinese bidder, with the news attracting the sparsest comment in the mainland press. The Australian

400 BankWest jobs under threat
Tension between the banking sector and the Finance Sector Union will increase if Commonwealth Bank of Australia proceeds with reported plans to slash 400 BankWest jobs. The Australian

Recession to blow out budget deficit
The Rudd government is preparing to bring down the first federal budget built on assumptions of a deep recession, with official forecasts expected to predict the economy will contract by at least 1 per cent next year. The Fin Review

Banks crunch on depositors
The major banks are aggressively re-pricing their deposit books ahead of next week's expected rate cut by the Reserve Bank. Herald Sun

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Shops throughout the state could open until 9pm weeknights by as early as the end of the year after Premier Colin Barnett said yesterday retailers had told him they wanted a consistent extension to shopping hours to match late-night Thursday trading.

Page 4: Premier Colin Barnett warned weeks ago that the owners of BankWest are set to reduce staff numbers and break a previous commitment not to cut jobs.

Page 9: Premier Colin Barnett has dismissed suggestions that federal Environment Minister Peter Garret will veto his preferred Kimberley location for a gas processing hub, saying there were few "unique" environmental issues at the site.

Page 10: More than $33 billion worth of employees' annual leave is sitting, unused, on the books of Australian businesses - an average of four weeks off for every permanent employees in the country.

The federal government will push ahead with its overhaul of employment service providers despite coalition accusations that more than 1,000 people who help the unemployed find work will lose their own jobs if changes are made.

Page 14: Qantas is about to get its biggest shake-up since it was privatised in 1995, according to leading industry think tanks.

Passengers accustomed to meals, drinks and entertainment included in the ticket price on international and domestic Qantas flights are in for a rude shock.

Page 17: Drought and low prices for wool are forcing farmers to cut the number of sheep they hold, reducing the size of the national wool clip to the smallest since 1925, according to a new report.

Business: China's Minmetals last night put out a proposal to OZ Minerals to acquire the bulk of the company, excluding the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine, in a move that could help save the miner from administration.

Fallout from the global financial crisis is providing and unexpected boon for Australia's investment banks, with a rush in equity raisings and debt issues providing a much-needed revenue boost in the face of a slump in global merger and acquisition activity.

Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, has launched an international expansion of her TV production company, Shine, in a move that could see her beat her brother Lachlan in building a media business in Australia.

Indian fertiliser tycoon Pankaj Oswal is understood to be negotiating a settlement with one of the builders of his Burrup ammonia plant which, if successful, would keep a series of allegations about the business practices of his companies out of court.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd government is preparing to bring down the first federal budget built on assumptions of a deep recession, with official forecasts expected to predict the economy will contract by at least 1 per cent next year.

Major banks are holding on to commercial property loans to forestall a collapse in asset values and have admitted they are scaling back their exposure to the sector until economic conditions improve, in some cases refusing to take on new clients.

US President Barack Obama will seek to use his international popularity to push the Group of 20 summit this week to endorse the need for continued and co-ordinated efforts to reflate the global economy.

China Minmetals has put an alternative offer to OZ Minerals to buy the beleaguered miner's assets, excluding the prized Prominent Hill mine in South Australia, after federal Treasurer Wayne Swan on Friday blocked a full takeover of OZ Minerals on national security grounds.

Page 3: Small businesses will avoid overpaying their quarterly tax instalments by $720 million next year after the federal government announced on the weekend it would change how they were calculated in response to the global recession.

Page 4: The federal government has moved to play down any idea it is taking a harder line on Chinese investment in Australia in the wake of its knockback on China Minmetals' takeover bid for OZ Minerals.

Page 7: Economist Ross Garnaut says the government must act in the nation's long-term interest on climate change and not be distracted by chief executives more focused on their short-term performance bonuses.

Page 13: BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers held meetings with important institutional investors in the UK last week, prompting increased speculation the mining giant is considering a renewed bid for rival Rio Tinto.

Page 15: The receivers of failed childcare operator ABC Learning Centres have been given a month to mediate a $US100 million ($144 million) dispute with an Arizona property developer over a six-year contract sealed by former chief executive Eddy Groves.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The future of Defence Department secretary Nick Warner hangs in the balance amid mounting concern he is the wrong person to implement the government's ambitious reforms of one of its biggest, costliest and most unwieldy departments.

US President Barack Obama plans to take a leadership role at the crucial UN climate change talks in Copenhagen later this year by calling meetings of major polluting nations, including Australia, for next month and July.

Page 2: Kevin Rudd has played down growing pessimism over this week's G20 summit in London, despite speculation the German government has attempted to sabotage the meeting by leaking an early draft of its communiqué.

Premier Mike Rann is "disappointed" with the federal government's decision to block the sale of South Australia's $1.15 billion Prominent Hill mine to Chinese-owned Minmetals and is seeking urgent talks with Wayne Swan.

Australia will demand better opportunities to invest directly in China when stalled talks with its largest trading partner on a free-trade agreement start today in Beijing.

Page 4: The Liberal Party will control the spending of funds raised by Queensland's Liberal National Party at the next federal election, setting the scene for a clash between the Coalition partners.

Page 6: The Coalition has urged the Rudd government to consider suspending its $2 billion Job Network tender, warning that thousands of people would miss out on retraining and assistance in finding work as the dole queues lengthened.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has publicly backed proposed severe and controversial alcohol restrictions in the troubled Kimberley town of Halls Creek.

The largest native title claim in South Australia, covering a uranium mine and the iconic Wilpena Pound rock basin, will be signed off today by the Federal Court in Adelaide, in a move welcomed by state and federal governments.

Business: The Rudd government's surprise decision on Friday to ban Chinese group Minmetals from buying into the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia on national security grounds appears to have blind-sided a confident Chinese bidder, with the news attracting the sparsest comment in the mainland press.

Treasury was in Dubai last week in pursuit of petrodollars, with the head of the Australian Office of Financial Management, Neil Hyden, spruiking the benefits of Australian bonds as part of what appears to be the first road show of that type the Commonwealth has ever done.

Skilled Group, the country's biggest labour hire company, has bowed to "challenging business conditions" and demanded a 10 per cent cut in working hours for its 1400-strong permanent workforce.

Australian industry veteran Wolfgang Blass has urged winemakers to create new beverages to woo Asian drinkers rather than trying to convince them of the merits of existing products.

Nervous about super fund earnings has prompted a doubling in cash holdings - the safest form of asset - in the past six months, a survey has found.

The Australian share market is likely to open lower today after US stocks and commodity prices declined at the weekend.

Tension between the banking sector and the Finance Sector Union will increase if Commonwealth Bank of Australia proceeds with reported plans to slash 400 BankWest jobs.

Law firm Slater & Gordon has warned its Opes Prime clients that it has "fundamental concerns" with the $253 million scheme of arrangement proposed by financiers, ANZ and Merrill Lynch, of the collapsed Melbourne stock-lending firm.

The 20 largest economic nations are expected to produce a new set of rules for supervision, transparency and conduct for offshore tax havens this week as part of a broader effort to overhaul the regulatory structure of the world economy, White House officials say.

The US Treasury Department estimates that it has about $US134.5 billion ($194 billion) left in its financial rescue fund, which would mean that about 81 per cent of the $US700 billion program has been committed.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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