Today's Business Headlines

21/04/2009 - 06:49

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Rio chairman on cue for Chinalco deal; Anticipated bids spark 33% surge in Asciano; $95m to settle Re-HIH matter; Labor risk to youth jobs – OECD; Health insurance rebate ‘a waste’

Rio chairman on cue for Chinalco deal
Rio Tinto's new chairman, Jan du Plessis, has defended its $US38 billion purchase of Alcan and the proposed $US19.5 billion bailout by China's Chinalco, after a heated annual general meeting in Sydney yesterday. The Fin Review

Anticipated bids spark 33% surge in Asciano
Asciano Group securities surged 33 per cent yesterday on speculation the debt-stricken transport infrastructure company's board would today consider takeover proposals and separate bids for its ports and rail assets. The West

$95m to settle Re-HIH matter
HIH Insurance liquidator Tony McGrath is understood to be hoping to get a cheque for about $95 million shortly to settle all outstanding reinsurance business involving Warren Buffett's General Re, eight years after Australia's biggest ever corporate collapse. The Australian

Labor risk to youth jobs - OECD
The OECD has warned that the rollback of the Howard government's Work Choices industrial relations laws may result in higher youth unemployment, as Kevin Rudd conceded for the first time that recession in Australia was inevitable. The Australian

Health insurance rebate 'a waste'
The state government has attacked the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate - worth about $600 a year to typical families - telling Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's hand-picked health reform advisers that it is a waste of money that could be better spent on hospitals. The West

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: A controversial government program designed to stop parents wasting their welfare money on drugs and alcohol is to be expanded across dozens of Perth's northern and eastern suburbs.

Page 3: The state government has attacked the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate - worth about $600 a year to typical families - telling Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's hand-picked health reform advisers that it is a waste of money that could be better spent on hospitals.

Page 6: Australia's two biggest banks have increased fixed mortgage rates, adding to central bank signals and market bets that borrowing costs are near their bottom.

Page 11: More than $110 million will be spent over the next four years to build and upgrade houses in remote west Kimberley Aboriginal communities under a Commonwealth plan to improve some of the worst living conditions in Australia.

Page 12: WA grain farmer Norm Jenzen knows his neighbours will be looking over the fence with added interest this winter.

Business: Rio Tinto shareholders have launched a savage attack on the mining giant's board, with one in three votes going against the re-election of Sir Rod Eddington, one of Australia's most prominent businessmen.

Investment in China should strengthen later this year but a global recovery was unlikely for at least 12 months, Rio Tinto's outgoing chairman Paul Skinner told the annual meeting in Sydney yesterday.

Asciano Group securities surged 33 per cent yesterday on speculation the debt-stricken transport infrastructure company's board would today consider takeover proposals and separate bids for its ports and rail assets.

Amcom's non-executive chairman, Tony Grist, says he has no plans to further reduce his stake in the WA telecommunications company after yesterday offloading some of his stock to pay a tax bill.

Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo will spend his final week in London at the hem of the troubled telco giant, spruiking the benefits of investing in Australia.

Australia's biggest car retailer, Automotive Holdings Group, is back in favour with investors after handing down a solid quarterly result which saw its new car sales outpace the wider market by 4 per cent.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Rio Tinto's new chairman, Jan du Plessis, has defended its $US38 billion purchase of Alcan and the proposed $US19.5 billion bailout by China's Chinalco, after a heated annual general meeting in Sydney yesterday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has admitted for the first time that the economy will enter a recession, as the federal government examines a revamp of training and labour market programs before and expected sharp increase in unemployment.

The new chief executive of Kmart is working on a major shake-up of the ailing discount retail chain, including a big cull of product lines, cutting the floor space of some of the larger stores and dramatically enhancing customer service.

The information technology industry has warned that steep cuts to IT spending due in the May 12 federal budget will jeopardise service delivery at key agencies, including Centrelink, as a growing number of Australians turn to the government for financial assistance.

Page 3: Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has sought to increase pressure on the Senate to support her government's emissions trading scheme by arguing defeat of the legislation would be a major setback to efforts to forge a global greenhouse agreement.

Cardboard box billionaire Richard Pratt is gravely ill.

Page 4: A plunge in construction costs has helped drive a surprise fall in producer prices in a sign inflation pressures may be easing more quickly than anticipated and increasing the scope for more interest rate cuts.

Page 7: A Commonwealth Bank of Australia subsidiary was making margin loans for new investments in Storm Financial Services products, even though "possibly several hundred" existing clients were in negative equity due to the stockmarket crash, a former senior Storm executive will tell a parliamentary hearing.

Page 19: The boss of Wesfarmers' coal division, Stewart Butel, has conceded that all of the group's major steelworks customers in Japan have substantially slowed their production rates, which is hitting export volumes from the company's coal mines.

Asciano Group shareholders are becoming increasingly confident that the company will not have to sell all of its operations to alleviate its $4.8 billion debt problem, with some prepared to support an equity raising to retain key assets.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The OECD has warned that the rollback of the Howard government's Work Choices industrial relations laws may result in higher youth unemployment, as Kevin Rudd conceded for the first time that recession in Australia was inevitable.

Ford Australia has warned that the government's emissions trading scheme could add millions of dollars a year to its costs and threaten jobs, six months after Canberra pledged $6.2 billion to rescue the local auto industry.

Australians are divided over the government's handling of the rising tide of asylum seekers, as Malcolm Turnbull calls for Labor to consider resurrecting a key plank of the Howard government's hard line on boatpeople.

Page 2: Blocking the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme in the Senate would mean the coalition was responsible for undermining crucial Copenhagen climate change talks and harming Australia's long-term economic interests, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has charged.

The Queensland government has reacted to twin pressures of rapid population growth and declining budget revenues by letting a $1.1 billion contract to build and maintain seven new schools to a consortium based on Leighton Contractors.

Wholesale prices have fallen for the first time in six years as the economic downturn makes companies scared to lift prices.

Trade Minister Simon Crean says Australia and China need a more structured approach to investment to head off "xenophobic reactions" to major deals such as the $27 billion bid by Chinalco to increase its stake in Rio Tinto.

Page 5: Less than a day after refusing to quit as South Australia's road safety minister, Labor rising star Tom Koutsantonis has been forced to resign amid public outrage over the 30-plus driving offences under his name.

Page 6: Improved co-operation with Indonesia, not temporary protection visas, were responsible for stemming the flow of boats to Australia over the past decade, refugee experts say.

Page 7: Childcare operators might have to raise fees to squeeze profits out of the 210 ABC Learning centres sold last week, former childcare king Michael Gordon predicts.

Business: Shares in Asciano Group soared yesterday amid speculation the debt-laden transport and infrastructure group had received a takeover offer.

HIH Insurance liquidator Tony McGrath is understood to be hoping to get a cheque for about $95 million shortly to settle all outstanding reinsurance business involving Warren Buffett's General Re, eight years after Australia's biggest ever corporate collapse.

The boards of corporate Australia are expected to bow to increasing public pressure and order pay cuts for executives following the Commonwealth Bank's decision to trim top salaries.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group says it is in early-stage talks with various parties regarding future investment and financing.

The extremely weak car retail market has not stopped Automotive Holdings Group from delivering an 85 per cent rise in profit for the nine months to March 31.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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