Today's Business Headlines

20/04/2009 - 07:18

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Coles to be main act at Wesfarmers’ briefing; Forrest, China in talks over Pilbara push; Bank move on B&B holders; Inflation data in the March quarter eases the RBA; Qantas flies with Etihad deal

Today's Business Headlines

Coles to be main act at Wesfarmers' briefing
A rejuvenated Wesfarmers will host tomorrow's key investor briefing with its shares trading near five-month highs and amid expectations that the WA conglomerate's turnaround of the Coles supermarket business is gathering momentum. The West

Forrest, China in talks over Pilbara push
The founder of Fortescue Metals Group, Andrew Forrest, is pursuing talks with China's sovereign wealth fund about investing $9.2 billion to expand its Pilbara iron ore mine. Sydney Morning Herald

Bank move on B&B holders
A syndicate of 25 banks is considering a move to buy out Babcock & Brown's 8000 subordinated noteholders owed about $600 million. Any offer would pre-empt an August 17 meeting designed to discuss how much - or how little - noteholders could expect to recoup from the company's collapse. The Australian

Inflation data in the March quarter eases the RBA
A slowing rate of inflation in the March quarter will comfort the central bank as it contemplates more interest rate cuts to help revive a weakening economy, economists say. Daily Telegraph

Qantas flies with Etihad deal
Qantas and its Middle East partner Etihad Airways have forged another deal that threatens to stifle the growth plans rival Emirates has for the Australia-Pacific region. Herald Sun

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 3: A staggering 19 billion litres of water - nearly half the production of the Kwinana desalination plant - were wasted after an increase in leaks from Perth's drinking supplies last financial year, new statistics show.

Page 4: Farm machinery is being dusted off across the state as the first plantings of WA's winter crops get underway.

Page 7: New attempts are being made to save historic Peppermint Grove homestead The Cliffe, with Greens MP Giz Watson pushing to overturn a decision to take it off the state's heritage register while an elite girls' school has shown interest in acquiring it.

Page 10: Colin Barnett hopes to secure billions of dollars in royalties for WA from the Browse Basin gas field off the Kimberley coast despite offshore royalties generally belonging to the Commonwealth.

Page 14: The number of West Australians in desperate need of state housing has soared 20 per cent in the past five months, prompting opposition claims the Barnett government's housing policies are a failure.

Business: A rejuvenated Wesfarmers will host tomorrow's key investor briefing with its shares trading near five-month highs and amid expectations that the WA conglomerate's turnaround of the Coles supermarket business is gathering momentum.

What a difference a year makes - it could well be the mantra for WA's embattled miners.

Shareholder anger at Rio Tinto's $US19.5 billion ($27.1 billion) proposal to give Chinese government-controlled group Chinalco a big equity stake and direct investments in assets like Hamersley Iron is set to boil over today when the miner holds its annual meeting in Sydney.

Greentrains Pty Ltd, the company which owes $75 million to listed WA locomotive engineer Coote Industrial on an unpaid invoice for refurbished trains and carriages, has applied to become a public company.

Repcol has completed its transformation from struggling debt collector to cashed-up mining services player with a new-look board that will see former PCH Group chief Jamie Cullen step into the top job.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will push state governments to make an early commitment to funnel an estimated $1 billion a year in telecommunications spending through the planned $43 billion national broadband network.

The US Federal Reserve has dismissed fears that its efforts to pump trillions of dollars into the financial system in the past 18 months will stoke a damaging bout of inflation, as more tentative signs emerge that the banking sector and the US economy are beginning to heal.

Page 3: An International Monetary Fund report this week is likely to confirm the world economy will shrink by more than 1 per cent in 2009 and will be crucial in finalising the federal budget, Treasurer Wayne Swan has warned.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group is expected to trim the pay of its top executives as soon as this week in another sign that community pressure over executive salaries will play a big part in the upcoming bank profit season.

Page 5: A list of preferred industry sectors eligible for special help and considered vital to the country's security will be included in a long-awaited defence white paper reform package to be released by the Rudd government.

Page 6: The Australian mining sector is braced for further job losses in coming months, as 85 per cent of employers are expecting to cut back their workforce by the end of the year amid falling demand and prices.

Page 7: Unions will hold talks with Qantas Airways chief Alan Joyce today about jobs cuts announced last week.

Page 13: Oil Search, Santos and other partners in ExxonMobil's liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea expect to have offers for a massive $US11 billion ($15 billion) financing package on the table around July after canvassing prospective Australian lenders last week.

Page 14: Origin Energy has dismissed suggestions it could be forced to delay development of its $35 billion liquefied natural gas project in Queensland by as much as five years, stating its giant project remains on schedule.

Rio Tinto will face angry Australian investors in Sydney today as new chairman Jan du Plessis steps out for the first time to publicly state his position on the miner's $US19.5 billion ($27 billion) Chinalco deal.

Page 16: The pace of growth in Qantas Airways' low-cost Jetstar unit will slow sharply after this fiscal year as the carrier struggles to curb capacity amid a slide in travel demand.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Petrol is believed to have been introduced into the bilges of an asylum-seeker boat minutes before it exploded last Thursday, killing five of those on board.

China's government-controlled national pension fund will embark on a multi-billion-dollar international buying spree, taking advantage of cheaper asset prices to give the country an even larger stake in Western corporations.

Australia has cancelled plans to attend an anti-racism conference in Geneva over concerns the UN-backed forum will degenerate into a launch-pad for anti-Semitic attacks.

The architects behind four of the nation's biggest corporate disasters have lost more than $6 billion of investor funds but continue to live the high life, bunkered down in sprawling mansions and multi-million-dollar rural retreats.

Page 2: Any attempt by the government to use a second Senate rejection of its alcopops tax as a double dissolution election trigger could be constitutionally invalid.

Local Liberal strife from Western Australia has spilled over into the national arena, Malcolm Turnbull loyalists have charged, as a new wave of division and leadership instability rocks the party.

Page 3: A stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness has been developed.
Surgeons predict it will become a routine one-hour procedure that will be generally available within seven years.

Page 4: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says the time has come for the Rudd government to clarify why there was an explosion on the asylum-seeker boat near Ashmore Reef.

Page 5: Self-described hippies from northern NSW are suing the state's Department of Community Services for removing their two healthy children from their care without a good reason.

For the past 17 years, Max Orchard and his wife, Bev, have adjusted their daily routines around the needs of a menagerie of injured birds brought to their home on Christmas Island.

Business: A syndicate of 25 banks is considering a move to buy out Babcock & Brown's 8000 subordinated noteholders owed about $600 million. Any offer would pre-empt an August 17 meeting designed to discuss how much - or how little - noteholders could expect to recoup from the company's collapse.

Almost a quarter of internal auditors in Australian companies still report to the management they might find themselves investigating, despite moves by regulators in recent years to ensure auditors remain independent.

Ian McLeod, the Scottish-born boss of Coles, continues to look to Britain in his bid to revive the supermarket chain and close the gap on its rivals.

Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest met Chinese bankers in Hainan at the weekend to seek additional billions of dollars in funding for the expansion of his Fortescue Metals Group's operations, as iron ore demand from China accelerates and low-grade producers fall away.

Rio Tinto will face intense opposition to its extraordinary deal with Chinese giant Chinalco, with some investors expected to use today's annual general meeting to push for an overhaul of the miner's board.

BT financial chief executive Rob Coombe believes that a widespread shake-up of the Australian wealth management industry is inevitable, as the industry struggles to deal with the fallout from the world financial crisis.

Woolworths has snared the accolade of Australia's most valuable brand, leaving the previous leader, the National Australia Bank, far behind, according to a valuation of the world's top 500 consumer names.

The era of financial deregulation left Australian consumers in good shape to deal with the downturn, contrary to widespread opinion.

A slowing rate of inflation in the March quarter will comfort the central bank as it contemplates more interest rate cuts to help revive a weakening economy, economists say.

BrisConnections chairman Trevor Rowe said yesterday he had declined to offer 19.8 per cent stakeholder Nicholas Bolton money for his voting rights to avoid a wind-up of Australia's biggest infrastructure project.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce concedes Jetstar has limited capacity to relieve its parent of profit pressure, after the national carrier downgraded its full-year 2009 profit forecast by 80 per cent.

The Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) said banks' failure to pass on all of the interest rate cuts to customers was aimed at strengthening their "extremely strong" balance sheets against further economic weakness.

Amid rising debt and unemployment, the number of filings for personal bankruptcy is just shy of a record, says a government agency.

The spot price of iron ore has hit another low, which could further delay contract price negotiations between Chinese steel mills and major miners.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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