07/04/2009 - 06:42

Today's Business Headlines

07/04/2009 - 06:42

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On edge over rates and jobs; Child charity forced to cut back; Patients to pay cost of budget cuts; NRW calls halt as talk of BHP deal grows; Cameco chases uranium

Today's Business Headlines

On edge over rates and jobs
Today's decision by the Reserve Bank on interest rates has become an extremely close call amid fears Australia's unemployment rate may have already reached 5.5 per cent. Herald Sun

Child charity forced to cut back
A major charity that helps seriously ill children blames the economic downturn for a decision to slash its services, including cutting the hours of a respite room at Princess Margaret Hospital and halving the number of wishes it grants to sick children. The West

Patients to pay cost of budget cuts
Private health-care operators are preparing to lift prices for a range of medical services and shut down unprofitable radiology practices in a bid to protect profitability amid fears of a further health-care funding cut in the federal budget next month. The Fin Review

NRW calls halt as talk of BHP deal grows
WA mining contractor NRW Holdings last night followed Macmahon into a share trading halt pending an announcement about its own "significant contract". The West

Cameco chases uranium
Canadian uranium giant Cameco has opened an office in Perth and plans to have a 40-strong exploration team drilling in the Pilbara by June as it pushes ahead with plans to establish a uranium mine in Western Australia. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: A major charity that helps seriously ill children blames the economic downturn for a decision to slash its services, including cutting the hours of a respite room at Princess Margaret Hospital and halving the number of wishes it grants to sick children.

Page 3: Some popular children breakfast cereals are made up of almost one-third sugar or contain twice as much salt as toasted corn chips, an Australian health lobby group has warned.

Page 4: Australians' sweet tooth is continuing to get the better of us, with chocolate sales defying the global recession and emerging as a treat most consumers are not willing to give up.

The finances of a typical "working family" are being boosted by an unprecedented cash splash worth nearly $20,000 a year.

Harvey Beef has applied to the Industrial Relations Commission to end the existing pay deal at its South West abattoir.

Page 5: Emirates, the world's fastest-growing airline, will reduce its fares to a host of destinations in Europe today.

Page 10: The reputation and future of flamboyant billionaire businessman Andrew Forrest were on the line yesterday when allegations that his company Fortescue Metals Group misled investors about the nature of deals it had with Chinese companies were finally aired in the Federal Court.

The federal opposition and the Australian Greens plan to force a Senate inquiry into the overhaul of the jobs network that has caused thousands of non-profit group workers to lose their jobs.

Page 15: The state government-owned insurer has been accused of acting unconscionably when it settled a car accident claim with a Kalgoorlie woman with brain damage who was not capable of settling it herself.

Page 19: The stoush between Fremantle City Council and the operators of the Fremantle Markets has taken a new turn, with the company claiming the council should call for tenders to determine fair rents for stalls.

Business: BrisConnections has been gagged from contacting unitholders and is under fire from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission for providing misleading information and soliciting votes for next week's crucial meeting, where the future of the $4.8 billion Brisbane Airport Link project may be decided.

World stockmarkets posted more solid gains yesterday, as a global rally entered its fifth straight week amid hopes the worst of the economic crisis is over.

WA mining contractor NRW Holdings last night followed Macmahon into a share trading halt pending an announcement about its own "significant contract".

Iron ore sport prices have fallen to their lowest level in nearly three years, undermining the negotiating position of Australian iron ore producers seeking to settle a benchmark price with Asian steelmakers.

The Australian Securities Exchange has reported a 35 per cent jump in the number of times listed companies have been asked to explain unusual trading or leaked information in the March quarter amid rampant speculation over slashed dividends, capital raisings and debt refinancing.

Otto Energy shares plunged to a fresh all-time low yesterday as investors responded to news of a $200 million farm-in deal with BHP Billiton had been delayed and that the Perth oil and gas stock had slashed the value of the rights issue.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The federal government has moved to limit its potential exposure to the commercial property sector through the proposed Australian Business Investment Partnership, signalling loans made by the joint government-bank vehicle will charge a premium over market prices.

Private health-care operators are preparing to lift prices for a range of medical services and shut down unprofitable radiology practices in a bid to protect profitability amid fears of a further health-care funding cut in the federal budget next month.

Macquarie Group is spearheading a last-ditch attempt to save BrisConnections from being wound up by renegade unitholders through a proposal that would extinguish the liabilities of smaller investors to stump up hundreds of millions of dollars in payments on the units.

Page 3: The corporate regulator opened a landmark Federal Court trial against Fortescue Metals Group and chief executive Andrew Forrest by alleging he was "intimately involved" in misleading investors by overstating the true nature of the company's agreements with Chinese entities.

Page 4: Complaints by business that the Australian Taxation Office is too slow at responding to private ruling requests will be investigated by the Inspector-General of Taxation.

Page 6: BHP Billiton has told the competition regulator it will sign off on a long-term port access regime at the Port of Newcastle after holding up a crucial deal on coal exports.

Page 9: The federal government faces a near-$500 million fall in revenue because of cuts to the migration program at the same time as spending on the unemployed will probably exceed projections.

Page 13: Building materials group Boral has started a formal search for a replacement for beleaguered chief executive Rod Pearse, whose contract expires at the end of the year.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The jobs market is drying up more swiftly than in either of the past two recessions, putting pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates further at its board meeting today.

Border protection authorities have intercepted a boatload of 63 unauthorised arrivals, bringing to 187 the number of boatpeople detained this year.

Kevin Rudd's mid-air outburst at a female RAAF cabin attendant has done nothing to dent the Prime Minister's popularity, which has soared to near-record levels as Malcolm Turnbull's rating has hit a new low.

Seven Network TV boss David Leckie has been forced to dump all but a fraction of his $18 million stake in the company to repay loans he took out to buy the shares.

Page 3: Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest fostered an illusion for six months that his Fortescue Metals Group had secured binding contracts with three Chinese companies to build and fund a massive iron ore mine in the Pilbara, the Federal Court has been told.

Page 4: Six out of 10 Australians believe the federal government should block the $27 billion bid by Chinese state-owned Chinalco to increase its stake in Rio Tinto, underlying the political sensitivity of the landmark foreign investment decision.

Federal cabinet is due to meet early this morning to decide the outcome of the Rudd government's $4.7 billion national broadband network.

The opposition has demanded an inquiry into the Rudd government's $4 billion Job Services tender that could leave more than two thousand people out of work.

The Rudd government has admitted its venture into commercial property banking may end up costing taxpayers money, but says it has done all it can to minimise the risk.

Quantity, not quality. Or perhaps "the end justifies the means". They seem to be the Government's key catchphrases when it comes to stimulus spending.

Page 5: The consumer watchdog is seeking new powers to vet the infrastructure charges of some of the Murray-Darling's biggest water companies to stamp out abuses of monopoly power in the parched basin.

Business: Macquarie Group has made a last-ditch effort to placate aggrieved BrisConnections investors, including renegade unitholder Nicholas Bolton, ahead of next Tuesday's extraordinary meeting to wind up the trust.

Banks are finding it cheaper to raise money in domestic markets, undermining claims that they might not be able to pass on in full a rate cut expected as early as today.

Japan's government is racing to compile a Y= 10 trillion ($137.8 billion) supplementary budget by Friday to jolt the domestic economy back to life.

A small Melbourne-based technology company is considering a $25 million legal claim against several European banks that sold controversial structured financial products, an Australian financial advisory company that recommended them and ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

Having slashed the intended distribution for the troubled BrisConnections from 5.95c a unit to a mere 0.5c and changed the payment date to prevent unitholders using the proceeds to help fund their second instalment on the partly paid units, the RE, BrisConnections Management Co Ltd (BCMCL), has taken another controversial step by preventing trading in the units on a "deferred settlement" basis.

Chinese giant Chinalco will walk away from its $US19.5 billion ($27 billion) deal with Rio Tinto if it is forced to significantly amend the contentious alliance and water down its interest in a list of assets.

Canadian uranium giant Cameco has opened an office in Perth and plans to have a 40-strong exploration team drilling in the Pilbara by June as it pushes ahead with plans to establish a uranium mine in Western Australia.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank's tentative push towards a share price above $8 faltered sharply yesterday when management downgraded full-year profit from about $270 million to a number closer to $210 million.

Insurance Australia Group has raised $84.4 million by selling shares to retail shareholders to bolster its finances at a time when raising money from other sources is difficult.

Rod Pearse, the long-serving chief executive of building products giant Boral, may retire when his five-year contract expires at the end of the year.

Electronics retailer JB HiFi and furniture and electrical goods seller Harvey Norman are two companies expected to cash in on bonus cash payments being handed out to taxpayers.

Macquarie Group is looking to India and its vast capacity for infrastructure growth to cheer a moribund balance sheet, with the launch yesterday of a $US1 billion ($1.4 billion) joint-venture infrastructure investment fund.

Top federal bank regulators plan to meet this week to discuss how to analyse the results of stress tests being conducted on the country's 19 largest banks.

Major US companies are cutting jobs and wages. But many are still spending on innovation.

In one of the biggest battles between the business community and the White House, corporate lobbyists are intensifying efforts to block an Obama administration proposal to raise taxes on overseas profits.

Australian shares finished higher for a third day, amid expectations of another interest rate cut today.

The Australian dollar closed higher yesterday as investor sentiment for risk currencies buoyed the local unit.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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