18/06/2009 - 06:48

Today's Business Headlines

18/06/2009 - 06:48

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CBA admits Storm Financial 'shortcomings'; Bank chiefs warn on funding gap; Corporate lawyers join forces; Another blow for investors in agri-schemes; Iron ore joint venture under fire for monopolisation

Today's Business Headlines

CBA admits Storm Financial 'shortcomings'
The Commonwealth Bank's reputation as one of the nation's most trusted institutions has taken another blow after it admitted "shortcomings" in its dealings with thousands of customers affected by the $3 billion collapse of Storm Financial. Daily Telegraph

Bank chiefs warn on funding gap
Bank chiefs have warned that Australia's heavy reliance on offshore funding and very low rate of deposits to loans is making the banking system increasingly vulnerable and threatening the economic recovery. The Fin Review

Corporate lawyers join forces
Top corporate lawyers Craig Readhead and Phil Pullinger will merge their West Perth practice with property law specialists Michael, Whyte & Co in a move that will create one of WA's biggest boutique firms. The West

Another blow for investors in agri-schemes
Investors who lost millions in the corporate collapses of Timbercorp and Great Southern face the final indignity - a bill for millions of dollars from the Australian Taxation Office. Sydney Morning Herald

Iron ore joint venture under fire for monopolisation
China's Industry Ministry has criticised the "strong monopolistic colour" of the iron ore joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as it urged Chinese firms to increase local exploration to cut the country's reliance on exports. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 4: Premier Colin Barnett emerged from a meeting with BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers yesterday, saying he was confident the mining giant's iron ore deal with Rio Tinto would bring long-term benefits to the state.

Page 6: Labor leader Eric Ripper has vowed not to pass Premier Colin Barnett's late-night shopping legislation without more small business protection as the government yesterday flagged a move to Sunday trading in the northern suburbs.

WA farmers fear their profits could be cut if Premier Colin Barnett's bid to extend weeknight shopping to 9pm in the metropolitan area is successful.

Page 10: More signs are emerging that the worst is over for Australia's economy but a new survey suggest WA businesses are doing it tougher than firms interstate.

Page 11: Australians are cutting back on holidays and staying home as the economy slumps, tourism figures show.

Page 12: The controversial licence for the export of bulk nickel through Esperance has allegedly been breached three times since it was reissued six months ago.

Business: Top corporate lawyers Craig Readhead and Phil Pullinger will merge their West Perth practice with property law specialists Michael, Whyte & Co in a move that will create one of WA's biggest boutique firms.

Tens of thousands of investors who lost millions in the corporate collapses of Timbercorp and Great Southern face the final indignity - a bill for millions of dollars from the Australian Taxation Office.

Hardware retailer Bunnings is sizing up sites in Perth's upmarket western suburbs for its new multi-level warehouse as it looks to unlock more inner-urban neighbourhoods across Australasia.

The corporate watchdog is investigating a "range of regulatory issues" around the Timbercorp and Great Southern collapses, including any possible misuse of fees or inadequate disclosure to investors by the managed investments scheme operators.

The 150-year-old CSR will jettison its sugar business and offer investors the choice of a separately listed pure sugar play, worth about $700 million, and a focused buildings materials company after firming capital markets made a demerger more palatable to the board.

Three more WA resources companies are rattling the tin, with iron ore players Territory Resources and BC Iron and contractor Swick Mining poised to announce equity raisings.

Cape Lambert Iron Ore boss Tony Sage has shrugged off a Takeovers Panel ruling that will force him to launch takeover bids for four junior mining companies or drastically reduce $21 million worth of shareholdings.

The team behind a bid to install WA resources veteran Miles Kennedy at the helm of Indago Resources yesterday slated the Indago board as they launched a proportional bid for just 8.79 per cent of the junior.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Bank chiefs have warned that Australia's heavy reliance on offshore funding and very low rate of deposits to loans is making the banking system increasingly vulnerable and threatening the economic recovery.

The federal government will introduce new measures to tighten tax breaks for charitable trusts and give the Australian Taxation Office greater regulatory powers over the $1.3 billion sector.

CSR will hive off its underperforming sugar division in a bid to deliver value for long-suffering shareholders and position its larger building materials division for industry consolidation.

There were nerves around the table when Telstra's directors gathered in Melbourne on Wednesday May 6 for the start of a two-day board meeting.

Page 3: The global economic downturn has taken the edge of Australian Football League attendances, which have fallen to their lowest point since 2006, and a mid-year review released yesterday shows the sport has lost ground in the battlefield Sydney market.

Page 4: Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Ralph Norris yesterday moderated his hardline position on Storm Financial Services investors, declaring the bank had "identified shortcomings" in how it had lent money to customers involved with the collapsed Townsville-based adviser.

Page 5: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has told BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers that the mining giant's planned iron ore merger with Rio Tinto in the Pilbara will require the companies to pay the state up to $1 billion in stamp duty and about $300 million a year in additional royalties.

Page 7: Workplace Relation Minister Julia Gillard has placed new limits on the Australian Building and Construction Commission's use of its coercive powers until it is replaced by Labor's new building inspectorate next year.

Page 11: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has indicated he may introduce Sunday trading if he wins the next election as he launched an assault against independent grocers opposed to his attempts to reform that nation's most restrictive retail trading hours.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The crackdown on foreign journalists in Iran inevitably raises fears the regime has a terrible plan.

Primary school principals and teachers yesterday urged the federal government to review the implementation of its $14.7 billion school building program amid continuing claims of chronic wastage and rigid guidelines imposed by state bureaucracies.

The Commonwealth Bank's reputation as one of the nation's most trusted institutions has taken another blow after it admitted "shortcomings" in its dealings with thousands of customers affected by the $3 billion collapse of Storm Financial.

School principal Henry Grossek has thrown down the gauntlet to the Rudd government with an insider's account that paints a murky and disturbing picture of the much vaunted education revolution.

The coalition is positioning itself to vote against Labor's building industry watchdog and shadow cabinet is to consider taking a hard line after business outrage over the effective emasculation of the new body's coercive powers.

Page 2: Leading academics believe Julia Gillard's education revolution lacks focus on improving the quality of teaching, saying more money should be spent on teacher development and retaining teachers in the profession.

Veteran Queensland newsreader Bruce Paige has pulled the plug on his television career, after presenting the weeknight news on Channel Nine for the past 14 years.

Page 3: Employers are far less likely to interview a person with a Chinese, Middle Eastern or Aboriginal name for a job even if their CV is identical to someone with an Anglo-Saxon name.

Page 4: More than $1.4 billion of taxpayers' money was wasted on the Defence Department's botched acquisition of the Super Seasprite helicopter, 47 per cent more than the $953 million claimed by the Defence Department last year.

Up in the lush canefields of Burdekin in north Queensland, the cane farmers joke that new CSR employees are just fine until they get "the needle".

Page 5: The Reserve Bank's run of interest rate rises before it changed tack last September contributed to a sharp fall in home construction in the first three months of this year, with new starts dropping to an eight-year low.

Australia's cattle producers are in for a bullish year of higher farm income and business profits, with years of herd rebuilding set to pay off in the saleyards.

Page 6: The full cost to taxpayers of the feather-bedding of the pensions of public sector workers has been confirmed in the state and territory budget cycle, which concluded this week.

Page 7: Entertainers Paul Hogan and John Cornell have launched fresh court action against authorities, joining their financial adviser Tony Stewart in a bid to stop the Australian Taxation Office using confidential accounting advice in an investigation into their financial affairs.

The multi-millionaire creator of the accounting software giant MYOB last year co-founded a local arm of a company that raised up to $1.5 billion from wealthy South African investors.

Business: The Commonwealth Bank's spectacular backflip yesterday over its involvement in the $3 billion collapse of Storm Financial has cleared the way for a full settlement later this year of issues affecting 2500 of its customers -- but only in cases where it admits wrongdoing.

After years of underperformance and pressure from shareholders to bust up CSR's conglomerate, the board yesterday unveiled plans to spin off its $1 billion-plus sugar business and create the country's only pure listed sugar company.

Berndale Securities, the biggest provider of clearing services to the stockbroking industry in Australia, has been put up for sale by its owner Merrill Lynch.

Moves to phase out commissions on investment products should lead to an improvement in the quality of advice offered to investors, financial advisers said yesterday.

China has sought to ensure the bulk of its 4 trillion yuan ($738 billion) stimulus package is spent on domestic goods and services, in a protectionist measure that could destabilise the global economic recovery.

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers has refused to commit to a deal with the West Australian government on the disputed stamp duty bill from the company's $US116 billion ($147bn) iron ore alliance with Rio Tinto.

China's Industry Ministry has criticised the "strong monopolistic colour" of the iron ore joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as it urged Chinese firms to increase local exploration to cut the country's reliance on exports.

Ports and rail operator Asciano Group has increased the size of its equity raising to $2.35 billion after strong support from institutional investors.

Macquarie Group is deferring making changes to its pay structure as a result of the federal government's taxation plan for employee share schemes, adding to the mounting pressure on the government to make more substantive amendments to its proposal.

Small to medium-sized businesses say it is tougher to secure a bank loan today compared to a year ago as banks tighten their lending standards and the cost of funding rises.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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