03/07/2009 - 06:56

Today's Business Headlines

03/07/2009 - 06:56

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Union takes on Pilbara giants; Woodside push on Browse leases will test Ferguson; PM too defensive on China: Keating; Plan to upgrade skills for recovery; Future Fund urges Telstra board change

Today's Business Headlines

Union takes on Pilbara giants
A key mining union has launched Federal Court action with the aim of breaking into the largely non-unionised iron ore mines of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton in Western Australia's Pilbara region. The Fin
Woodside push on Browse leases will test Ferguson
The Rudd Government is set to come under huge pressure from Woodside Petroleum to strip valuable Browse Basin gas leases off multinationals including Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell unless an agreement on a $30 billion Kimberley liquefied natural gas project can be reached. The West
PM too defensive on China: Keating
The Rudd government is too defensive in its attitude to the rise of China and Australia must become more skilful and inclusive in dealing with Beijing and the emerging concert of great powers in Asia, according to former prime minister Paul Keating. The Australian
Plan to upgrade skills for recovery
The federal government has boosted its strategy to respond to rising unemployment, ahead of an expected lift in the jobless rate next week, with a plan to retrain up to 124,000 workers in a bid to ensure they can smoothly return to the workforce. The Fin
Future Fund urges Telstra board change
The Future Fund is pressing for further renewal of Telstra's board as pressure mounts for the company to bring in new non-executive directors to help guide it through the threat of break-up and negotiate a deal on the national broadband network. The Fin

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 3: The Health Department has sacked two employees and started disciplinary action against another seven as part of an investigation into possible salary packaging fraud, including false meal and entertainment expense claims.

Page 5: While some had cracked their first beer within minutes of setting foot on dry land in Fremantle yesterday, US naval officer Thai Heiler couldn't wait to get back in the ocean.

Page 6: Labor dropped her but taxpayers gave former WA senator Ruth Webber an extraordinary $48,516 consolation prize last year.

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard has not only refused union demands to dismantle the building industry watchdog, but said yesterday she might beef up the WA branch.

Companies would have to contribute more than 9 per cent to employee superannuation in the wake of the global financial crisis, former prime minister Paul Keating said in Perth last night.

Page 10: The State Government's property arm faces the prospect of cutting down an entire pine plantation infested with European house borer beetle to save local houses.

Business: The Rudd Government is set to come under huge pressure from Woodside Petroleum to strip valuable Browse Basin gas leases off multinationals including Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell unless an agreement on a $30 billion Kimberley liquefied natural gas project can be reached.

The receivers behind Elderslie Finance will launch a public examination of the failed group's auditor in a bid to recover more money for the thousands of investors stung by the former WA company's collapse.

A surge in equity raisings in the past four months helped Euroz emerge form the sharemarket's worst financial performance in 27 years in better than expected shape, yesterday describing as "excellent" a 75 per cent fall in net profit to $10.3 million.

Thousands of Timbercorp timber growers have been thrown a lifeline with the news that a consortium headed by a superannuation fund might buy their trees.

Wesfarmers' CSBP business looks to have secured years of cheap gas under a settlement with Apache Energy over the Varanus Island gas explosion in June last year.

AAMI will push into WA this weekend with a mass media offensive to lure new customers as the Suncorp-owned general insurer looks to exploit a long-standing market dominance enjoyed by the RAC and SGIO.

Australian investors are expected to follow their British counterparts in swamping Rio Tinto's $US15.2 billion ($19 billion) rights offer, which promises to ease the global miner's huge debt burden and put the group back into growth mode.

China Inc is set to further cement control of the Mid-West iron ore region after a $20 million magnetite development deal with junior Emergent Resources.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The federal government has boosted its strategy to respond to rising unemployment, ahead of an expected lift in the jobless rate next week, with a plan to retrain up to 124,000 workers in a bid to ensure they can smoothly return to the workforce.

The Rudd government has ordered a high-level inquiry by a top investment bank to test claims by electricity generators that the emissions trading scheme could cause them financial distress and lead to major disruption in the national energy market.

When Treasury Secretary Ken Henry was asked if his department was independent of the federal government, his response was measured.

The Future Fund is pressing for further renewal of Telstra's board as pressure mounts for the company to bring in new non-executive directors to help guide it through the threat of break-up and negotiate a deal on the national broadband network.

Page 3: The Esky cooler brand has been sold to US outdoor company Coleman, which plans to sell the product in Asia and further afield, in a deal that marks another well-known Australian brand falling to foreign owners.

Investor relations operatives thinking about burying their bad news by releasing it on a Friday during the profit reporting season next month might want to think again.

Reserve Bank of Australia research has proved payment system reforms it introduced from 2003 have made credit card loyalty schemes significantly more expensive and less lucrative.

Page 4: It sounds technical - and it is - but the "code-based assessment" for housing development championed by the Council of Australian Governments is aimed at producing cheaper housing, faster.

Page 5: The nation's trade deficit has widened despite a record slide in imports as falling prices for coal and iron ore bear down heavily on export earnings.

Former prime minister Paul Keating has aligned himself with revered Labor figure John Curtin to criticise the Rudd government's critical approach to China's rising military power in the recent defence white paper.

Page 8: The federal government has promised renewed action on the troubled builders' warranty insurance system, as a major insurer said it would stop offering the product because of adverse market conditions.

A key mining union has launched Federal Court action with the aim of breaking into the largely non-unionised iron ore mines of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

Proving your name may not always be your own, West Australian home builder Scott Park has lost a bid to register his name as a trademark, after opposition from his former business partner, who now owns companies bearing the name.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard has told a Perth business audience that the nation's only Liberal government, in Western Australia, is threatening national productivity growth by saying it will withdraw from a deal to create uniform occupational health and safety laws.

Page 10: Most listed companines are considering reviving employee share plans after the federal government unwound controversial budget changes, although some tax experts said the final position might still leave some employees out of pocket.

Page 11: Timber industry superannuation fund First Super has formed a consortium to negotiate with investors in Timbercorp's forestry projects and has proposed three options including buying their trees.

Page 17: Rio Tinto is expected to shave nearly $US15 billion ($18.6 billion) from its $US38 billion debt bill this month, after its 21 for 40 rights issue was well received in London and Australia.

Record Chinese steel production has weakened the China Iron and Steel Association's case for the cut of more than 33 per cent in annual iron ore prices that it has been demanding in talks with the world's big iorn ore miners, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Brazil's Vale.

BHP Billiton's plans for its Yabulu and Ravensthorpe nickel assets should become clear in the coming days, with potential buyers suggesting it is nearing a decision on whether to sell them, possibly in a package deal.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The Rudd government is too defensive in its attitude to the rise of China and Australia must become more skilful and inclusive in dealing with Beijing and the emerging concert of great powers in Asia, according to former prime minister Paul Keating.

Page 2: The building industry watchdog has taken fresh legal action in two states against construction union officials, including militant Joe McDonald, accusing them of making threats and provoking strikes.

Australia's trade deficit doubled in May as government stimulus spending kept imports rolling in, while our biggest export markets, with the exception of China, collapsed.

A push to force state governments and local councils to refer development proposals with a large carbon footprint to the federal government for approval has alarmed business groups, who claim it could stall economic recovery.

Job losses in the construction sector soared to 48,000 nationally in May, a 57 per cent rise in six months, as the collapse in new building work takes its toll.

Page 5: Inefficient hot water systems will be phased out and all appliances will be properly labelled under new national energy efficiency standards as part of a 10-year energy efficiency plan adopted by the Council of Australian Governments yesterday.

Page 7: The Australian Jockey Club has chopped $4 million in prize money from more than 30 feature races in the new season and laid off seven more staff as it tries to arrest its economic decline.

Business: Senior bankers say the short-term outlook for the economy is bleak, and predict that more businesses and consumers will come under pressure as credit growth continues to slow and unemployment rises.

Australia's credit unions and building societies have experienced strong growth in retail deposits at the expense of their regional banking rivals to maintain liquidity during the global credit squeeze.

Santos has broken a recent lull in coal seam gas sector consolidation by paying $476 million in two transactions for more ground in the prospective Gunnedah Basin of NSW.

Financial markets are recovering and the jostling for talent is intensifying as securities firms once again are making money -- and they look set to spread the wealth with their employees should the good times continue.

Rio Tinto expects a strong take-up of the local portion of its mammoth $US15.2 billion ($19bn) rights issue following a 97 per cent take-up of the rights in its London-listed stock.

Woodside Petroleum says start-up costs at its proposed Browse LNG development in the Kimberley will be far from a widely speculated $50 billion.

The responsible entity for Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund foisted a $250 million capital raising on security holders as an alternative to selling the fund's main undertaking, its Epic Energy gas pipeline operator, and possibly transferring control of the fund.

The 950 remaining workers at Townsville's Yabulu nickel refinery should have a better idea of their fate once BHP Billiton makes a decision on what to do with the plant in coming weeks.

BHP Billiton and Mithril Resources have pulled out of the Silver Swan North nickel and gold joint venture, with ownership of the project reverting to FerrAus.

Optus could face a costly backlash from its dealer network as seven parties prepare to file a class action in a bid to recoup allegedly withheld commission payments.

Printing and distribution group PMP says changes to senior executive personnel and moves to repair relationships with key clients have left it '' well positioned'' to tender for work lost in the past year, including the sought-after catalogue distribution account of Wesfarmers' Coles Group.

Gordon Ramsay, who admitted recently that ambition almost brought his restaurant empire crashing down, suffered a kitchen nightmare last year as profits fell by almost 90 per cent.

The federal government may need to change the tax treatment of employee share schemes again when the Productivity Commission hands down its report on executive remuneration in December, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Family-owned Melbourne-based retailer Besen Group has granted an option over a third of its 50 per cent share of Highpoint Shopping Centre, one of Australia's top centres, to GPT Group.

US payrolls tumbled by an unexpectedly large amount last month on widespread declines across manufacturing, construction and professional services, a grim reminder that the path to economic recovery will be bumpy.

Bank of Queensland has raised $750 million in a government-guaranteed domestic bond issue that was three times oversubscribed on the $500m sought originally.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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