31/03/2009 - 06:44

Today's Business Headlines

31/03/2009 - 06:44

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Forrest to win green light for sale to China; Banks to decide on OZ lifeline; Miners turn to China for funds as bank loans dry up; Bank mergers bite; Markets face legal threat over rent rises

Today's Business Headlines

Forrest to win green light for sale to China
Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest is to get the green light to sell a significant portion of his heavily indebted company, Fortescue Metals Group, to a Chinese government-controlled steelmaker. The West

Banks to decide on OZ lifeline
Bankers to OZ Minerals will decide today whether to extend their financial lifeline amid uncertainty about whether China Minmetals will make a revised bid for the debt-laden miner. The Australian

Miners turn to China for funds as bank loans dry up
Mining companies will be forced to consolidate and seek further financial support from Chinese and other Asian state-owned interests as local and foreign banks baulk at committing to $36 billion in loans due from the sector in the next two years. The Fin Review

Bank mergers bite
Australia's finance sector is facing another wave of deep staff cuts amid rising concern that Westpac is preparing to cut thousands of jobs. Herald Sun

Markets face legal threat over rent rises
Fremantle Markets' owners could face legal action from the city council over allegations they breached their long-term lease by unfairly raising stallholders' rents. The West

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest is to get the green light to sell a significant portion of his heavily indebted company, Fortescue Metals Group, to a Chinese government-controlled steelmaker.

Page 4: Qantas operations degenerated into chaos yesterday after a four-hour wildcat strike played havoc with the travel plans of tens of thousands of travellers across Australia.

Page 11: When Dave and Gloria Carlisle moved to the picturesque bush block near Gingin, they never dreamt they would become Perth's major supplier if quail eggs and meat.

Page 12: BankWest employees have a nervous wait this week after the company announced yesterday the first of 250 job losses will be identified next week.

Page 13: Fremantle Markets' owners could face legal action from the city council over allegations they breached their long-term lease by unfairly raising stallholders' rents.

Business: OZ Minerals was last night hopeful of unveiling a revised deal with China Minmetals - excluding the Prominent Hill Mine - as early as today, which is the deadline for it to gain an extension on $1.3 billion of debt.

Listed property developer Port Bouvard plans to launch a series of wholesale funds to market key South west assets to institutional investors, with the first fund expected by the end of the year.

Mounting woes as the US auto giants and renewed concerns about the vast amounts of cash needed to fix the country's banks have combined to undermine this month's rally on global equity markets.

WA entrepreneur Tony Sage is eyeing his second gold float in as many years, with plans to spin off the gold assets of Scimitar Resources and Jackson Minerals when he takes the helm of the soon-to-be merged group next month.

Western Areas Exploration co-founder Lex Brailey initially dismissed a nickel opportunity presented to him in 1999 and only realised his mistake after the project was picked up by his colleague Terry Streeter, the WA Supreme Court was told yesterday.

Macquarie Group is seeking orders in the Queensland Supreme Court to stop a planned meeting of BrisConnections unitholders and ensure that a $390 million instalment payment is made.

Equinox Minerals shareholders had their day in the sun yesterday as the copper producer announced a restructuring of its debt obligations and a bumper profit of $US173 million ($254 million) for 2008.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Mining companies will be forced to consolidate and seek further financial support from Chinese and other Asian state-owned interests as local and foreign banks baulk at committing to $36 billion in loans due from the sector in the next two years.

Leaders of the world's largest economies have sought to lower expectations for the Group of 20 summit on Thursday, fearing the event might be deemed a failure if they cannot agree on bold stimulus targets.

Macquarie Group has bought an 8 per cent stake in BrisConnections and started legal action to protect its myriad interests as lender, underwriter and original sponsor of the crippled $4.9 billion Queensland toll-road project.

The Rudd government is considering taking the axe to the Howard-era welfare measures, including childcare rebates, high-income superannuation concessions, the baby bonus and the Medicare safety net as it frames the most difficult budget in decades.

Page 3: Despite recording higher profits, service quality at Australia's five major airports has declined, a report by the competition regulator has found.

With hundreds of applications flooding in for every job opening, recruiter are toughening up their screening procedures.

Page 5: The Rudd government has offered funds to a $US120 billion ($173 billion) scheme to rescue Asian governments under financial pressure, in its latest commitment to help pay for the response to the global financial crisis.

Page 7: New home sales are rising owing to low interest rates and generous government incentives, but a broader recovery in the housing sector appears to be some time off as weak investor interest and tighter credit conditions hamper large-scale developments.

Page 9: The federal government's emissions trading scheme could provide overall benefits to many manufacturers by causing a drop in the Australian dollar, according to a senior bureaucrat working on the proposed reform.

Page 13: General Motors chairman and chief executive Richard Wagoner has resigned at the request of the White House, clearing the way for the Obama administration to offer the company more federal aid.

Page 17: The board of OZ Minerals is likely to decide today on a life-saving proposal from China Minmetals which could prevent the miner's lenders from forcing the company into receivership.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The government's favourite banker has attacked the exorbitant pay of his former colleagues, saying their base salaries reflect boom-time conditions rather than the plunging share prices of today.

Gordon Brown's single most revealing comment about his plans for the G20 summit came in an uncharacteristically frank statement at a Downing Street briefing.

Page 2: Kevin Rudd has scoffed at a suggestion that he is so sensitive about his close links with China that he refused to sit next to the Chinese ambassador to Britain when appearing in a weekend television program in London.

Wayne Swan has blamed Malcolm Turnbull and his Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey for introducing a "yellow peril" tone to the controversy over Chinese investment in Australian resources projects.

Page 4: There could be one person of working age on welfare for every three people with a job by the time the recession ends, according to one of Australia's leading economists, Bob Gregory.

The peak union representing staff of the nation's biggest job agencies wants a guarantee that any Jobs Network workers who lose contracts in the Rudd government's overhaul of the system be given preference of employment with any new provider that wins business.

Kevin Rudd and his British counterpart Gordon Brown have vowed they are not prepared to take a "do-nothing" approach to the global recession, amid increasing pessimism about whether the Group of 20 leaders meeting in London this week will make progress on the crisis.

The Australian Press Council has questioned the new editorial policy of The West Australian newspaper, saying it provides editor Brett McCarthy with a "cop-out" to publishing adverse findings about its journalism.

Page 5: The tax office has warned it may not be able to send out before Easter $900 cash handouts to millions of taxpayers that form a key element of the Rudd government's stimulus package, unless a High Court challenge to the validity of the bonuses is resolved quickly.

Qantas baggage handlers and ground staff walked off the job at airports across Australia yesterday to protest about the outsourcing of jobs, which they believe compromises airport security.

Page 6: Fifteen of the 19 companies or individuals on the Queensland government's list of licensed lobbyists have either a current or previous connection with the ALP.

Page 7: Charities have beaten the private and public sectors in their bids for a share of the Rudd government's $623 million fund to build cheap rental accommodation for those on low incomes.

Business: Macquarie Group has swept up a pivotal 8 per cent stake in BrisConnections as it tries to stymie any attempt by unit-holders to wind up the $4.8 billion Airport Link project.

The Obama administration has used the threat of withholding more bailout money to force out General Motors chief executive Rick Wagoner and administer harsh medicine to Chrysler - one of the most dramatic government interventions in private industry since the economic crisis began last year.

Goldman Sachs believes increased interest in Australia's resource assets by offshore buyers will be maintained and keep the investment banking market alive in the next six months.

Bankers to OZ Minerals will decide today whether to extend their financial lifeline amid uncertainty about whether China Minmetals will make a revised bid for the debt-laden miner.

Rio Tinto's Chinese suitor Chinalco has been dealt a financial blow after its listed subsidiary Chalco warned that first-quarter profit would plummet by almost 100 per cent.

Shares in Terramin Australia soared after the zinc miner announced separate strategic partnerships with foreign entities, including a Chinese state-owned entity, to help fund its Tala Hamza mine development in Algeria.

Two former directors of the National Stock Exchange are behind a plan to oust its board, citing concerns about the performance of the listed company.

Farmer confidence has fallen to a two-year low, despite improving seasonal conditions across parts of the country, a lower Australian dollar and reduced input costs.

The free-to-air television broadcasters yesterday hit back at criticism of their Freeview digital TV marketing platform, unveiling plans to deliver digital content on demand over the internet as well as on 15 digital TV channels by the end of this year.

General Motors chief operating officer Frederick "Fritz" Henderson has been one of the automaker's top troubleshooters for nearly a decade, tackling overhauls at one sick GM unit after another.

Spain's central bank will rescue struggling regional savings bank Caja de Ahorros Castilla La Mancha, marking the first time a Spanish financial institution has been rescued since the current financial crisis began.

The Australian share market closed lower yesterday, tracking weaker Asian bourses and a negative lead from the US.

Japan's industrial production slumped 9.4 per cent in February, the fifth successive month of steep decline, but for the first time since October manufacturers see the prospect of their outputs recovering.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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