Today's Business Headlines

12/05/2009 - 06:47

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Get ready for $58bn deficit and million jobless; Regional fund gets a haircut; Stockpile hinders Magellan's reopening; Conroy plan to split up Telstra; Woodside faces suit from pearl farmers

Today's Business Headlines

Get ready for $58bn deficit and million jobless
Tonight's second Rudd government budget will predict a huge $58 billion deficit in the new financial year - a record 4.9 per cent of GDP, higher than in any post-war recession. The Age

Regional fund gets a haircut
West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell says the Liberal-National government's $700 million regional royalties fund will take a 4 per cent "haircut" in the state budget on Thursday, confirming the global economic turmoil has forced the National Party to back down from its formerly non-negotiable policy. The Fin Review

Stockpile hinders Magellan's reopening
The Magellan lead mine in WA is unlikely to reopen until next year as its owner, Toronto-listed Ivernia focuses on clearing about 21,000 tonnes of stockpiled lead carbonate from the mine site. The West

Conroy plan to split up Telstra
The federal government will offer Telstra the chance to buy up to 49 per cent of its national broadband network, if it agrees to voluntarily hive off its wholesale arm. The Australian

Woodside faces suit from pearl farmers
Opposition to Woodside Energy's plans for a billion-dollar gas pipeline north of Broome could turn into a multi-million-dollar compensation claim by angry local pearl farmers if the project goes ahead. The Australian

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: In a major setback to Australia's national; bowel cancer screening program, more than 475,000 Australians will be offered re-testing after the federal government admitted some home-test kits might have given false negative results.

Page 3: Toxic chemicals about to be deregistered or already banned in the European Union remain widely available in Australia and can be found in everything from pet flea collars to head lice treatments for children.

Page 4: The shipping company at the centre of a pay dispute involving 24 striking crew aboard a vessel off Geraldton claims it has paid the outstanding wages.

Page 5: The national consumer watchdog has launched legal action against a Perth company and its director over an alleged pyramid-selling scheme.

Page 7: Business performance has rebounded after the federal government's stimulus packages, with two surveys suggesting an across-the-board turnaround.

Page 9: The state government will plough $263 million into publicly-owned generator Verve to build two new highly efficient gas power plants at Kwinana to avert a looming power crisis.

Business: Santos will raise up to $3 billion to cope with the heavy call on its finances from its participation in the $21.5 billion Papua New Guinea and $7.7 billion Gladstone export gas projects.

The Magellan lead mine in WA is unlikely to reopen until next year as its owner, Toronto-listed Ivernia focuses on clearing about 21,000 tonnes of stockpiled lead carbonate from the mine site.

China's bout of deflation persisted in April as consumer prices fell 1.5 per cent from elevated levels a year earlier, but analysts said they expect prices to start heading up later in the year.

Pacific Brands has joined the rush of companies taking advantage of a buoyant share price, deciding to tap its shareholders for up to $256 million in an effort to cut its debt load.

WA engineering contractor Lycopodium has tipped at least another year of difficult trading conditions, cutting its full-year profit forecast by $2.3 million to $12.4 million yesterday.

Kagara has struck a deal that will see Western Areas assume operational control of its billion-dollar Lounge Lizard nickel mine deposit in a move which paves the way for development of Australia's richest nickel mine.

Fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot yesterday warned its profit could tumble 42 per cent this year if fertiliser prices stayed where they are, but also soothed concerns it would need to raise fresh equity, helping its shares track higher.

Cattle giant Australian Agricultural Company will be free to concentrate on strategy after Elders, the former Futuris Corporation, finally sold its remaining 20 per cent stake for about $85 million.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Santos will raise up to $3 billion to fund its expansion commitments in two massive liquefied natural gas projects, cementing its reinvention from a staid Adelaide-based domestic gas producer to an emerging player in the Asia Pacific's fast-growing LNG industry.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has declared that major outlays on infrastructure and training in today's federal budget would underpin jobs as he warned that unemployment would reach 10 per cent if the coalition blocked the spending initiatives.

ExxonMobil is seeking to quit the local petrol retailing market, placing its portfolio of 800 stations up for sale in a $500 million deal that could also herald a further rationalisation of the cut-throat fuel refining industry.

Page 3: Hopes that the economy might be coming through the worst of the slowdown have been boosted by signs that low interest rates and huge government handouts have helped lift business conditions after their worst deterioration since the early 1990s recession.

Page 4: West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell says the Liberal-National government's $700 million regional royalties fund will take a 4 per cent "haircut" in the state budget on Thursday, confirming the global economic turmoil has forced the National Party to back down from its formerly non-negotiable policy.

Page 5: The federal government has shunned banking sector concerns by releasing draft legislation on unfair contracts but allowing only 11 days for a response.

Page 9: The federal government's possible cut to the nation's skilled migration intake in today's budget could strip about $670 million from its bottom line over four years as it scrambles to protect jobs during the financial crisis.

Page 17: Rio Tinto is seeking a meeting with independent senator Nick Xenophon as soon as this week, to help assuage his concerns over the company's proposed $US19.5 billion ($25 billion) link-up with Chinese state-owned metals giant Chinalco.

Leighton Holdings said before its third-quarter results this week that it did not expect any material abnormal items this financial year, amid difficult trading conditions for the contracting group.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The Rudd government will try to ram its controversial alcopops legislation through both houses of parliament today, as new health data reveals that risky drinking is as common among middle-aged women as teenage girls - the targets of the tax hike.

The federal government will offer Telstra the chance to buy up to 49 per cent of its national broadband network, if it agrees to voluntarily hive off its wholesale arm.

Page 2: China's second largest car manufacturer is keen to strike deals with its struggling Australian counterparts, a move that may breathe life into the Rudd government's $6 billion restructure of the industry.

Page 3: Senior staff at pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co sought to make "more palatable" a recommended warning by the government drugs regulatory body against the long-term use of Vioxx by people with a history of heart conditions.

Page 4: The federal government has been forced to defend its bowel cancer screening program after almost half a million people received a faulty bowel cancer testing kit and will need to take the test again.

Page 6: Kevin Rudd's anti-recession economic stimulus packages will keep up to 200,000 Australians off the dole queues, according to Treasury estimates to be released in today's federal budget.

Labor last night defended the anomaly under which a rich woman with a poor husband would not get its new paid maternity leave, but the reverse state of affairs would be covered.

Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma does not expect today's federal budget to provide a substantial chunk of money to establish an indigenous national representative body, but has called for a "contingency fund".

Page 7: The grip of recession is easing, helping an increasing number of businesses to report higher sales, profits and employment.

Western Australia is increasing its reliance on coal by firing up a decommissioned power station to cope with a predicted 200 megawatt shortfall in the summer of 2011-12.

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has flagged a more independent approach from the party's coalition partner in the Senate, reserving the right to split from the Liberals on key issues such as the emissions trading scheme.

Opposition to Woodside Energy's plans for a billion-dollar gas pipeline north of Broome could turn into a multi-million-dollar compensation claim by angry local pearl farmers if the project goes ahead.

Business: Australian financial markets have absorbed more than $20 billion worth of capital raisings this year as corporate boards take advantage of a more positive sentiment towards equities to deleverage their balance sheets.

Santos has gone to shareholders to raise up to $3 billion, as it prepares to embark on massive gas export projects in Papua New Guinea and Queensland's Gladstone.

Elders, formerly known as Futuris, has ended its long association with the nation's biggest cattle company by selling its remaining 19.9 per cent share in Australian Agricultural Company (AAco).

Property giant Lend Lease has flagged a gaping hole in its 2009 profit as it struggles to sell developments in Britain's savaged property market.

Fertiliser and explosives maker Incitec Pivot has slashed full-year guidance and logged a 41 per cent fall in first-half profit because of falling prices.

China boosted its imports of Australian coking coal fiftyfold in the first quarter as its domestic production was cut, potentially saving Queensland from a further round of mine closures.

Australian shares surrendered early gains to close in the red yesterday, weighed down by Woolworths, Wesfarmers and the big banks.

Clothing and homewares group Pacific Brands is set to tap investors for up to $256 million to repay debt as it continues to restructure its balance sheet.

Japanese brewing giant Kirin's $3.5 billion takeover of Lion Nathan will involve cash payments only, despite some shareholders hoping the deal could include some form of share buyback.

Contracting giant Leighton has been queried about a $3.80 share price rise last week and is expected to issue a profit warning when it updates the market on Thursday.

Ports and rail freight operator Asciano Group is closer to reaching an agreement to sell all or part of its businesses, which would lift the heavy debt burden that has crippled the company.

Village Roadshow's film distribution subsidiary, Village Roadshow Pictures, has restructured a $US900 million ($1.17 billion) film funding facility after it was forced to delay payment of $US120 million to movie production partner Warner Bros.

Investors are aggressively piling back into markets shunned as too risky a few weeks ago - driving up stocks in the developing world and raising fears that the euphoria may be overdone.

China's aggressive stimulus has steadied its big economy faster than many expected. But the Chinese government hasn't yet delivered the deep structural changes that are needed to keep growth on track after those funds run out.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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