26/06/2009 - 06:55

Today's Business Headlines

26/06/2009 - 06:55

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Ports price-fix claim sinks; Henry talks down rosier IMF report; Oil industry snubs WA regime; Gas hub hangs on benefits deal, says KLC; Nats boss puts cash into his shires.

Today's Business Headlines

Ports price-fix claim sinks
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has dropped explosive claims of price-fixing at the nation's ports and agreed to settle a case against Patrick Stevedores and P&O Australia for $3.8 million. Legal action against former Patrick boss Chris Corrigan and other Patrick and P&O executives will also be dropped if the Federal Court approves the settlement. The Australian

Henry talks down rosier IMF report
The International Monetary Fund expects the economic downturn to be shallower than originally feared, but Treasury secretary Ken Henry has warned it is too early to tell whether budget forecasts for a 0.5 per cent contraction next financial year are overly pessimistic. The Fin

Oil industry snubs WA regime
Western Australia has suffered the ignominy of being ranked below Austria, Croatia and France, a country renowned for its heavy-handed bureaucracy, by the world's oil and gas industry in a survey in a survey on the jurisdictions with the most workable approvals process and tax regimes. The West

Gas hub hangs on benefits deal, says KLC
The proposed Kimberley gas hub is looking shaky after the federal government stonewalled demands by indigenous landowners for assistance over the project's 30-year life. The West

Nats boss puts cash into his shires
West Australian Nationals leader Brendon Grylls ignored advice on distributing a $400 million ''royalties for regions'' fund in favour of a revised formula that delivered big windfalls to small shires in seats held by his own party. The Australian

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Gas prices will rise 23 per cent next week, adding as much as $136 a year to household bills, after the state government last night allowed financially strapped Alinta to increase tariffs.

Page 3: The building industry watchdog is investigating stoppages at at least two city projects after hundreds of workers walked off the job over inclement weather, even though a significant proportion had been working indoors.

Page 4: The proposed Kimberley gas hub is looking shaky after the federal government stonewalled demands by indigenous landowners for assistance over the project's 30-year life.

WA councils will get another $10.8 million from Canberra for community projects and will fight for a share of a separate $120 million pool for major upgrades.

Page 6: Green groups and unions are pushing for an unprecedented level of environmental scrutiny over plans for WA's first uranium mine, calling for a public inquiry with the powers of a royal commission to assess BHP Billiton's proposed Yeelirrie project in the Goldfields.

US oil and gas giant Apache Energy has continued to stall the release of a potentially damning report into last year's Varanus Island gas explosion, securing an injunction in the Supreme Court yesterday to stop Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore seeing an advance copy before it had a chance to respond to the document's findings.

The devastating impact of the closure of BHP Billiton's Ravensthorpe nickel mine should be enough to ensure such a debacle is never repeated, a new study has found.

Page 7: WA fisheries worth $1.5 billion a year do not have an effective overall strategy of protection from illegal fishing, Auditor-General Colin Murphy warned yesterday.

Page 10: WA's grain rail operator has reversed a move to suspend operations along four regional tracks after talks with the state government over network funding.

Page 12: The federal government may escape the global recession with lower budget deficits and public debt amid growing signs its stimulus pachages will help deliver stronger economic growth.

Page 16: The downturn has knocked as much as a third off some trade rates since the height of the boom but only upmarket buyers are feeling the relief.

Cambridge Town Council has endorsed an ambitious plan to sink the Fremantle rail line and allow 10-storey high-density developments to turn West Leederville into Perth's next major activity hub.

Business: The competition watchdog has quit its chase of union-buster Chris Corrigan, his former stevedoring company Patrick Corporation and rival P&O for price-fixing and collusion.

Western Australia has suffered the ignominy of being ranked below Austria, Croatia and France, a country renowned for its heavy-handed bureaucracy, by the world's oil and gas industry in a survey in a survey on the jurisdictions with the most workable approvals process and tax regimes.

Raisama Resources, the privately held uranium player founded by Perth explorer Chris Reindler and investment banker Matthew Howison, has appointed industry veteran David Berrie to the top job and is eyeing a public float.

Investors in Timbercorp's mango and avocado projects have vopted to remove administrator KordaMentha from its role as manager of the horticultural projects in a bid to prevent the schemes from being wound up.

WA scooter maker Vmoto faces a major challenge in its budding Vietnamese market after rival Piaggio launched a new Vespa factory in the country this week.

West Australian Newspapers Holdings will take a bigger than expected hit to its full-year profits after confirming it had accepted voluntary redundancies from 8.6 per cent of its full-time equivalent staff.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The construction industry regulator has urged the federal government not to weaken the powers of the new building inspectorate, warning this would undermine deterrence and increase lawlessness in the sector.

Being made redundant hasn't changed since the last recession - the jolt to the ego and the loss of financial security are the same as ever.

Page 3: A new painting or sculpture might not immediately spring to mind as a business asset but artworks will qualify with cars and computers for the federal government tax break to encourage businesses to invest in new plant and equipment.

The long-running and acrimonious court dispute between former Patrick Corp managing director Chris Corrigan and head of the competition regulator, Graeme Samuel, has fizzled out.

Page 5: Ford Australia is pushing for a wage freeze from its 3000 production workers in a new enterprise agreement that would set a benchmark for how the local car industry adjusts to the global downturn and domestic manufacturing pressures.

The International Monetary Fund expects the economic downturn to be shallower than originally feared, but Treasury secretary Ken Henry has warned it is too early to tell whether budget forecasts for a 0.5 per cent contraction next financial year are overly pessimistic.

Page 6: In a significant concession to big business, the federal government has excluded business-to-business contracts from its controversial ban on unfair contract terms, a key plank of the national consumer law bill introduced into parliament this week.

The Rudd government's economic reform guru is urging the fast-tracking of national agreements to cut business red tape and possible new reforms , indluding investigatin options to introduce more competition in the aged care sector.

Page 7: Former treasurer Peter Costello could be looking forward to a lucrative career on the international speaking circuit after accepting a return flight to the US to speak at a conference at the invitation of the world's largest bond trader.

Page 9: Investors in three Timbercorp mango and avocado schemes have sacked KordaMentha as the manager of the projects in the hope the new responsible entity will be able to run them until the crop can be harvested and sold.

Page 10: The world has fewer millionaires and Australia's share of rich citizens has also fallen.

Page 23: BHP Billiton is looking at selling its Yabulu nickel project in Queensland and its closed Raventhorpe operation in Western Australia as a package if it can drum up enough interest from potential buyers as the miner steps up plans to exit its nickel laterite obligations.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Eddy Groves had promised his daughters he would take them to Disneyland for the Easter school holidays.

The International Monetary Fund has cautioned against further budget stimulus spending, saying the Reserve Bank should provide the front line of defence against further weakening in the economy with more interest rate cuts.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has dropped explosive claims of price-fixing at the nation's ports and agreed to settle a case against Patrick Stevedores and P&O Australia for $3.8 million. Legal action against former Patrick boss Chris Corrigan and other Patrick and P&O executives will also be dropped if the Federal Court approves the settlement.

Page 2: The Rudd government's $14.7 billion education infrastructure stimulus is causing price hikes and delays to building in the private sector, with one Adelaide firm pushing aside nearly half of its private work to meet deadlines for schools.

Hundreds of clients of the collapsed Storm Financial, backed with Bank of Queensland loans, were cast adrift yesterday by the regional institution over responsibility for their losses.

Page 3: Tech cynics will wonder at the faithful who lined up in the cold last night to be the first to buy the latest version of Apple's touchyfeely iPhone but there's no denying the gadget's ability to generate hype.

Page 4: The Coalition has escaped a damaging Senate vote on the alcopops tax hike for another six weeks after time ran out for the government's attempts to push through the bill.

The Coalition has destroyed the Rudd government's plans to phase out the coercive powers of the construction industry watchdog, prompting accusations the Liberals are trying to hang on to Work Choices.

Kevin Rudd has spent more than $730,000 on overseas travel in six months.

Page 5: Retailers are boosting staff numbers in anticipation of an improvement in consumer spending, according to the Australian Retailers Association.

The fate of the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme -- and the possibility it could become a trigger for a double dissolution election -- may not be decided until November.

Page 6: Nearly eight years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US, Australia's economic watchdog has recommended some airport security measures be streamlined and background identity checks on pre-paid mobile phones be abolished or changed.

Free-to-air television networks should have their ''first pick'' rights to major sports events curtailed or abolished because of the unnecessary costs they impose on pay-TV operators and major sports.

The company that runs Hong Kong's highly regarded train system has been given control of Melbourne's flagging metropolitan network in an attempt to boost its reliability and soothe commuter anger.

Page 7: Australia has slipped out of the top 10 list of countries with the greatest number of millionaires per capita.

West Australian Nationals leader Brendon Grylls ignored advice on distributing a $400 million ''royalties for regions'' fund in favour of a revised formula that delivered big windfalls to small shires in seats held by his own party.

Business: The competition regulator has dropped explosive claims of price fixing at the nation's ports and agreed to settle a court case for a $3.8 million fine and an admission that Patrick Stevedores and P&O Australia entered into a 2001 deal that was '' likely'' to lessen competition.

Speculation is growing that BHP Billiton is starting a formal process to offload its botched, and now mothballed, Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia.

Xstrata boss Mick Davis has gone to shareholders with his spurned merger offer for Anglo American, making public a letter of approach to the target that outlines more than $US1 billion ($1.25bn) of annual savings.

It has become clear why, only days after declaring unconditional its 30c-a-share cash offer for MacarthurCook, the bidder AIMS Securities suddenly waded into the market and acquired stock at 35c a share, automatically increasing the bid price to that level.

Fortescue Metals Group's recent strong stock run, fuelled by renewed interest in iron ore following the proposed Pilbara merger of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, is based on "unrealistic expectations", says a broker.

Canadian mining company Mega Uranium has unveiled a plan to have indigenous workers making up half of the 250-strong workforce at its proposed new uranium mine in Western Australia within four to five years.

West Australian Newspapers Holdings has significantly increased the size of a redundancy program announced earlier this month, with about 90 full-time staff departing the group under the organisational restructure finalised yesterday.

Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Terry Davis believes there is worse to come for the Australian economy, warning that so-called green shoots could wither before taking hold.

Investors in rural Managed Investment Schemes got a rare piece of good news yesterday when a majority of investors in three of defunct group Timbercorp's smaller schemes successfully voted to install a new Responsible Entity (RE), thus greatly increasing their chances of showing an eventual financial return.

Global tax competition is driving company tax rates down worldwide, and companies stand to achieve big tax advantages by locating their headquarters in low-tax countries.

New pure copper play OZ Minerals has been given a $US211 million ($263.8m) financial boost through a final green light for the sale of its Martabe gold project in Indonesia.

The federal opposition has succeeded in having debate opened on the government's plan to clamp down on employee share schemes, by having the issue referred to a Senate committee that will extend discussion by six weeks into the new financial year.

Margin loans are to be specifically regulated for the first time in Australia.

Telecom New Zealand has awarded a $NZ1 billion ($801 million) contract over 10 years to Leighton Holdings' Visionstream as part of a shakeup of its network company Chorus.

The Macquarie empire appears likely to lose another satellite, with Dreamworld owner Macquarie Leisure Group yesterday unveiling plans to cut itself adrift from its investment banking parent.

A nine-month hunt for board talent by Centro Properties Group has ended after the recruitment of three high-profile, non-executive directors.

Stockland was yet to announce last night whether it would participate in the FKP's $324 million capital raising - a heavily discounted and dilutionary deal that has helped the developer and retirement village operator successfully renegotiate $1.1 billion of debt.

Federal Reserve, confronted with an economy that is showing signs of hope but still contracting, has decided against enlarging its program to buy Treasury bonds to spur growth - even as the European Central Bank pumped billion ($770bn) into its banks to revive the sagging eurozone.

BP has appointed Carl-Henric Svanberg, chief executive of Swedish telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson, as its chairman, finally bringing to an end the protracted search for a replacement for current chairman Peter Sutherland.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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