16/06/2009 - 06:49

Today's Business Headlines

16/06/2009 - 06:49

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Banks take CBA lead on raising home loan rates; Asciano buys lifeline with last-minute capital raising; Aluminium up on China demand; Barnett opens door to gas reserve changes; James Hardie has eye on Irish base

Banks take CBA lead on raising home loan rates
Westpac and National Australia Bank have followed the Commonwealth Bank in lifting their fixed-term home loan rates in the wake of the storm unleashed by the country's largest lender raising the price of its standard variable mortgages. The Age

Asciano buys lifeline with last-minute capital raising
There has been precious little to celebrate at Asciano over the past 12 months, but having embarked on a $2 billion capital raising chief executive Mark Rowsthorn was able to sit back and enjoy the company's second anniversary last night. The Fin Review

Aluminium up on China demand
Increased demand from China and significant production cuts have led to a lift in the aluminium price, but analysts warn it is too early to claim a sustained recovery. The Australian

Barnett opens door to gas reserve changes
Colin Barnett has dismissed suggestions the WA government has walked away from the domestic gas reservation policy, insisting he would not abandon a principal pioneered by former premier Charles Court. The West

James Hardie has eye on Irish base
James Hardie Industries is preparing a possible shift of its corporate headquarters from Holland to Ireland, dampening expectations the fibre cement maker could seek to redomicile to the United States, where most of its operations are. The West

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 9: Peter Costello cleared the way for Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party to the next election unimpeded when he cleared yesterday he was quitting politics.

Page 12: The Commonwealth Bank is hitting depositors, not just mortgage holders, with new figures revealing it has made the deepest cuts to interest rates on savings accounts of any major bank.

WA's first-homebuyer market continues to soar with the government grant hitting a record high last month.

Page 15: The Smiths Beach tourism development near Yallingup that has been dogged by controversy for 10 years looks set to finally go ahead after the Shire of Busselton approved a smaller development yesterday.

Page 18: Shires are threatening to block trucks from hauling grain on country roads as regional rail operator WestNet Rail today suspends operations as part of the ageing rail network.

Page 19: Small businesses will launch a major advertising campaign today against the state government's bid to introduce weeknight trading, accusing politicians of turning their backs on the outcome of the 2005 referendum.

After working at Alcoa's Pinjarra refinery for more than 20 years, David Collins claims he developed a raft of health complaints, including kidney cancer, itching and flaking skin, eye problems and digestive difficulties.

Business: VDM Group's founder and acting chief executive yesterday denied the company's troubles were the result of poor management or overzealous expansion, after the engineering contractor axed its final dividend and warned of its first ever annual loss.

Mexican cement group Cemex has struck a deal to sell its Australian business, just two years after paying $US14.2 billion ($17.76 billion) for the owner of Readymix in one of the country's biggest takeovers.

Collapsed copper miner Compass Resources faces a claim of nearly $400 million from its Chinese partner.

Australian port and rail operator Asciano has rejected offers for the company and will instead raise $2 billion from investors to reduce debt.

Colin Barnett has dismissed suggestions the WA government has walked away from the domestic gas reservation policy, insisting he would not abandon a principal pioneered by former premier Charles Court.

James Hardie Industries is preparing a possible shift of its corporate headquarters from Holland to Ireland, dampening expectations the fibre cement maker could seek to redomicile to the United States, where most of its operations are.

Merrill Lynch has been accused of ignoring Australian Securities Exchange rules that require a trader to have a "sophisticated knowledge" before dealing in high-risk futures contracts.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: There has been precious little to celebrate at Asciano over the past 12 months, but having embarked on a $2 billion capital raising chief executive Mark Rowsthorn was able to sit back and enjoy the company's second anniversary last night.

Peter Costello has finally cleared the way for Malcolm Turnbull to cement his hold on the Liberal Party leadership after months of uncertainty, sparking talks of a coalition frontbench reshuffle to prepare for an electoral fight over the economy.

Page 3: The Australian Taxation Office has asked the federal government to consider legislative changes to strengthen its ability to tax multinationals operating in Australia after two recent court decisions cost it several hundred million dollars in lost revenue.

Page 4: Sharemarket-listed companies are under pressure to give full and frank disclosure of their safety records - including the number of deaths and injuries among their workforce - as institutional investors pay increasing attention to the effects of safety on bottom-line financial results.

Page 5: Business borrowing collapsed in April following a jump the previous month in a sign companies are holding off on expansion and investment as uncertainty over the economic outlook lingers.

Page 6: The global financial crisis may bolster Australia's ability to attract foreign capital, as it weathers the storm and outperforms many other advanced economies, according to an upbeat assessment from Treasury's chief forecaster.

Page 18: China's Ministry of Commerce has indicated Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton may have to seek approval from the Chinese government for their iron ore joint venture in Western Australia, saying the country's anti-monopoly laws could apply beyond its borders.

Page 19: The fate of CanWest Global Communications' stake in Ten Network will be determined by its banks, not executives at the debt-laden Canadian media group.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: A resurgent Malcolm Turnbull is free to go to the next federal election without speculation over his leadership after Peter Costello eliminated himself as a rival yesterday by announcing his retirement.

Holland Park State School in Kevin Rudd's suburban Brisbane electorate just finished building a brand new multi-purpose hall for $1.3 million, but under the federal government's school infrastructure program they will receive $1.5m to build another.

The last of the Morans was lying in his own blood on the floor of his favourite cafe when news of his violent death reached rival gangland clan leader Carl Williams in jail.

Page 2: Kevin Rudd's economic stimulus spending on improvements at schools was being "skimmed" by the South Australian government, which was using the grants to avoid spending its own money, parliament was told yesterday.

Page 3: Unions want workers to be paid to stay home in the event of a swine flu scare -- even if they are not sick.

Consumer advocate Choice will be forced to go it alone when it launches a revamped GroceryChoice website on July 1, as the major supermarkets drag their feet over supplying pricing data.

Page 4: Labor's long-held strong lead over the federal coalition in opinion polls has collapsed, with the latest Newspoll showing the opposition just one percentage point short of the government.

Page 6: Former ACTU president and now federal Labor MP Jennie George has declared building unionists have fewer rights than "most hardened criminals", underlining ALP caucus unrest over plans to keep coercive powers for the construction industry.

Malcolm Turnbull may succeed in delaying consideration of the government's emissions trading scheme, as a Senate report supported by the coalition, the Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon insists on the need for more economic modelling.

The only group to have benefited so far from the protracted debate over Australia's climate change policy are the economic modellers.

Page 8: Leading trade economists yesterday said the NSW government's plan to prefer Australian-made goods amounted to a suicide attack on the nation's biggest source of imports, China.

Business: Increased demand from China and significant production cuts have led to a lift in the aluminium price, but analysts warn it is too early to claim a sustained recovery.

Eight years after its disastrous domicile shift to The Netherlands, James Hardie has been registering company names in Ireland with the clear intention of moving to the Emerald Isle.

Expectations that iron ore contract prices will rise next year are firming, with Macquarie Bank analysts flipping their previous prediction of a slide.

After ruling out its previous favourite, former Rio Tinto chairman Paul Skinner, British energy giant BP has shortlisted one-time BHP Billiton chief executive Paul Anderson to take the helm.

Confirmation that Asciano plans a $2 billion equity raising to reduce the company's crippling debt only reinforces the fact that the chief executive Mark Rowsthorn should be fired for not heeding advice to take this step 12-15 months ago when the price of the group's stapled securities was much higher.

Logistics provider Toll has agreed to buy all the shares in the Perkins Group, parent of the Perkins Shipping Group, for an undisclosed sum.

The proposed $20 billion Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas joint venture has received a major vote of confidence following the agreement by its partners, including Oil Search and Santos, to commence early works.

Jim Byrnes is seeking to bury a ghost from his past as he offers free legal representation to investors seeking to challenge the flood of legal claims by BrisConnections over unpaid second instalments on their partly paid securities.

Brokerage firm Merrill Lynch may have breached Australian Securities Exchange rules by trading in futures contracts on behalf of Sydney investor David Waterhouse without his consent, the Federal Court heard yesterday.

Bill Ireland has quit as chairman of Mariner Financial and appointed Ian Winlaw and Denis Pidcock as directors.

Ten Network Holdings says majority shareholder CanWest still requires the consent of its lenders before it can sell its interests in the broadcaster.

New Zealand central bank governor Alan Bollard calls his currency's exchange rate against the US dollar "unhelpful" and "a real risk to us" as the nation endures its deepest recession in three decades.

As the White House eagerly scans the economic landscape for signs of recovery, a looming drought in the form of state budget deficits could make any "green shoots" wilt.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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