Today's Business Headlines

01/07/2009 - 06:58

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Union push for 6pc wage rise; Mid-West broadband rollout fast-tracked; Rio plays hard ball at ore talks; Suitors like the look of Lady Annie; Raisings and Rio give deal makers reason to celebrate

Today's Business Headlines

Union push for 6pc wage rise
Union leaders will seek to use the new workplace laws starting today to pursue annual pay rises of 4 per cent across 1300 agreements in the manufacturing sector, with better-performing companies to be hit with claims of 6 per cent. The Australian

Mid-West broadband rollout fast-tracked
WA's bid to host a major international space observation complex has been super-charged after the Rudd government confirmed it would fast-track the building of a fibre optic link between Perth and Geraldton. The West

Rio plays hard ball at ore talks
Rio Tinto last night threatened to shift iron ore contracts under contract to China on to spot markets, raising the stakes as annual price negotiations spill into July for the first time. The Australian

Suitors like the look of Lady Annie
Cape Lambert is fielding offers for the Lady Annie copper project it acquired through the purchase of CopperCo's assets, as it moves to remove the board of another of the failed miner's subsidiaries. The Australian

Raisings and Rio give deal makers reason to celebrate
Local investment banks have emerged from the crisis that rocked the industry globally, riding high on an equity-raisings revenue bonanza, and the likely completion of the BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto joint venture heralding a fresh record for mergers and acquisitions. The Fin

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 4: WA's bid to host a major international space observation complex has been super-charged after the Rudd government confirmed it would fast-track the building of a fibre optic link between Perth and Geraldton.

Page 5: BHP Billiton's Leinster nickel mine could be closed after another rockfall trapped a worker for several hours.

Page 6: The WA government's logging business is poised to cut down 250-year-old jarrah trees around Jarrahdale, sparking outrage from residents.

Perth's property market remains the nation's biggest under-performer, new figures show, but an industry analyst says the city's house values could return to peak levels of 2007 within six months.

Builders and shoppers are increasingly upbeat about the Australian economy in further signs that the worst of the downturn is over.

Page 16: Unions have already started taking advantage of changes to the industrial relations system, which come into effect today, to wreak havoc on building sites, according to the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Business: The Australian Securities & Investment Commission is believed to have raided the homes and offices of at least two financial planners on the east coast over sales of managed investment scheme (MIS) products.

Property developer Saville Australia has become the latest casualty of the global credit squeeze, with managing director and owner Sam Cheir losing the company's final asset, its CBD headquarters, and his own home and luxury boat to the banks.

Paladin Energy has scaled back expansion plans for its flagship Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia and says the "opportunistic" decision will save it $US 103 million ($129 million).

BC Iron boss Mike Young is looking for a new West Perth office. It is, he says, probably the best time in a decade to be seeking space in the suburb that houses much of Perth's mining set and where lease signs are becoming an increasingly common sight after years of skyrocketing rents.

A final run left the bulls in ascendancy yesterday as the Australian stockmarket crystallised its biggest financial-year loss in nearly three decades, despite a June-quarter surge.

Woodside Petroleum's aim to have agreed by last night on a location for the Browse Basin project with its four joint venture partners has failed amid concern the $25 billion liquefied natural gas project may be delayed indefinitely.

The battle of the department stores shifted into overdrive yesterday, with David Jones thanking its "resilient" customers after trumping its private equity-backed rival, Myer, with a 30 per cent upgrade to its second-half profit forecasts.

Indago Resources has raised the stakes in its battle with a hostile suitor by buying an African gold deposit intended to put the Perth-based group in production within two years.

Peter Fogarty has added another string to his bow of viticultural interests, picking up the 20-year-old Smithbrook vineyard and winery from brewing giant Lion Nathan.

Investors are showing renewed confidence in the Perth office market with six major sales totalling $308 million taking place in the first half of the year.

Boutique development company Match has paid just over $6 million for an original 1940s family property in North Fremantle, where it will put up exclusive residences and warehouse-style apartments.

Office space available for sub-lease in the CBD continues to swell rapidly and has nopw reached 40,000sqm, from 26,000sqm in May and 22,000sqm in April, research by Colliers International reveals.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Market Wrap 2008-09: Fund managers expect the sharemarket to build on recent gains after the worst financial-year performance in 27 years, but they warn more volatility is likely until evidence emerges of a sustainable recovery in economic growth and corporate earnings.

Equity strategists are daring to believe again.

Bad debts exploded, dividends were cut and the federal government had to guarantee bank deposits to stop people stashing their savings under their mattress instead.

Here's a warning to anyone who thinks markets have recovered: it ain't over till the fat lady sings. The fat lady, as far as investors are concerned, are credit markets, which froze as banks refused to lend to rival institutions after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September threatened a complete capitulation of the global financial system.

From boom-time prosperity to the pits of despair, it has been a rollercoaster ride for miners as the dream of record commodity prices and soaring demand descended into a nightmare of crippling debt, plant closures and a desperate dash for cash from foreign investors.

Page 1: Local investment banks have emerged from the crisis that rocked the industry globally, riding high on an equity-raisings revenue bonanza, and the likely completion of the BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto joint venture heralding a fresh record for mergers and acquisitions.

State governments have mounted a new push to head off a federal takeover of the public hospitals system, leaving the way for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to back away from one of his key election pledges.

Page 3: The corporate regulator told the Federal Court yesterday that Eddy Groves, founder of failed child-care group ABC Learning Centres, had dissipated his assets, after two luxury properties controlled by his family trust were transferred to his wife and brother-in-law.

The chief executive of Australia's biggest trucking companies and the head of the nation's transport workers' union have written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, appealing for commonwealth and state government to agree tomorrow to a national transport system.

Page 4: The federal government's $300 million Project Wickenby tax evasion probe has raised $300 million in extra tax, breaking even three years after it started, although only a third of the liability has been collected.

New tax laws on employee share schemes take effect today, although the federal government has yet to reveal their detail, leaving thousands of company schemes in limbo at the start of the new financial year.

Page 5: Housing credit grew solidly in May, boosted by the federal government's stimulus package and lower interest rates, but a stall in new home sales after a four-month-long surge has raised some doubts about the pace of recovery.

The median house price has recovered almost all of last year's falls and is approaching a new high, the latest figures suggest.

Utility costs, parking fees and a range of other charges will rise by between 3 and 11 per cent around the states from today's start of the new financial year.

Page 7: The federal government should provide a guarantee for "investment grade" mortgage-backed securities in place of the "RuddBank" fund rejected by the Senate in June, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said yesterday.

Page 9: The federal government will release only a modest $23 billion defence purchasing wish-list today, covering four years, but will try to calm industry concern about lack of long-range planning by pledging to restore a 10-year outline for purchases within months.

Page 10: They've been talked about at length yet small business seems largely in the dark over the new IR laws.

Page 11: Independent contractors are the latest lobby group to criticise the introduction of the new Fair Work Act from today, alleging it undercuts a pre-election commitment from federal Labor.

Page 12: The mineworkers' union has repeated its call for a federal inquiry into BHP Billiton's safety record after the second rock fall at its West Australian nickel operations in the past three weeks.

Defence giant Raytheon will call on the federal government today to slash the red tape that costs industry millions of dollars a year in its ambitious $20 billion defence savings drive.

Page 17: Strong gains in energy and mining stocks helped the sharemarket finish the financial year on a positive note yesterday, but it wasn't enough to deflect attention from a horror year.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Union leaders will seek to use the new workplace laws starting today to pursue annual pay rises of 4 per cent across 1300 agreements in thje manufacturing sector, with better-performing companies to be hit with claims of 6 per cent.

They are calling it the new boom in the bush. First time homebuyers, eager to make use of a three-month window of unprecedented government largesse, have been counting down the days to the new financial year.

The federal government must either boost funding to universities or allow Australia's leading tertiary institutions to raise the money themselves by deregulating student fees.

Page 4: Retailers have warned of unprecedented union interference in the small business sector, after failing to win support for their campaign to sign thousands of companies to non-union agreements before the new workplace laws start today.

In an ironic farewell to Work Choices, a trade union appears to have been one of the last employers allowed to use the laws to terminate staff by arguing it is a small business and thus exempt from unfair dismissal laws.

Page 5: Public confidence in life after the global financial crisis is beginning to return, with fewer than one in five now expecting their standard of living to drop.

Page 6: Musician Jane Rutter was yesterday awarded more than $440,000 in damages after a Federal Court judge condemned a winery for its "flagrant disregard" of her rights in a marketing deal.

Page 7: Energy users are falling prey to an array of misleading and fraudulent practices routinely used by door-to-door marketers to lure customers into signing new electricity or gas supply contracts.

Business: The Australian sharemarket locked in its fifth worst financial year performance in history yesterday, losing almost $350 billion of shareholders' wealth in 12 turbulent months.

Reports of the death of iron ore's benchmark pricing system may be exaggerated, but there is no question the market tectonics are shifting faster and further than we could have imagined two years ago.

Shares in David Jones and fellow retailers surged yesterday after a significant and surprising profit upgrade lent support to chief executive Mark McInnes's belief that department stores were "first in and first out" of economic downturns.

Rio Tinto last night threatened to shift iron ore contracts under contract to China on to spot markets, raising the stakes as annual price negotiations spill into July for the first time.

Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis says there is no reason to offer a premium to Anglo American in his $US80 billion ($98.5 billion) "merger of equals" which he happily admits is opportunistic.

BHP Billiton's Perseverance nickel mine might be closed by the West Australian government after a second rock fall at the site.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey yesterday called on the federal government to offer a guarantee on top-rate residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities (RMBS and CMBS) in an attemot to free up the borrowing market for smaller banks, and replace what he called the "dead" Rudd Bank.

Moves to streamline the Macquaire Group bull-market business model advanced yesterday after shareholders approved the bid to sell the investment bank's listed communications fund to Canadian public sector interests.

Cape Lambert is fielding offers for the Lady Annie copper project it acquired through the purchase of CopperCo's assets, as it moves to remove the board of another of the failed miner's subsidiaries.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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