Today's Business Headlines

07/07/2009 - 06:45

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Political pressure claims on Gorgon gas prices; Mining slump hits states; Funds attack fees with passive aggression; Oil giants accused of skimming; Bosses face new IR laws on bias

Today's Business Headlines

Political pressure claims on Gorgon gas prices
An alliance of WA's biggest gas users has hinted that the competition watchdog was leant on by its political masters to approve anti-competitive selling arrangements for the massive Gorgon gas project off the state's North West because of its potential to be a "recession busting" project. The West

Mining slump hits states
The states are facing a royalties black hole of up to $3 billion this financial year as a stronger Australian dollar and lower commodity prices slash revenues, following a bumper 2008-09 in which royalty income soared to a record $7.9 billion. The Fin Review

Funds attack fees with passive aggression
Some of the biggest superannuation funds are exploiting the market rout to force down the high fees charged by investment managers by switching billions of dollars into index funds, which have lowers costs. Sydney Morning Herald

Oil giants accused of skimming
Oil companies have been accused of using the global recession to put the squeeze on motorists, with a study showing they have increased profit margins at the expense of drivers and service stations. The West

Bosses face new IR laws on bias
The Fair Work Ombudsman will use new powers to investigate companies for discriminating against workers, prompting employers to claim they risk being treated as "guilty until proven innocent". The Australian

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 3: Oil companies have been accused of using the global recession to put the squeeze on motorists, with a study showing they have increased profit margins at the expense of drivers and service stations.

Page 4: Whistleblowers have exposed more cases where they believe St John Ambulance patients died while waiting for paramedics or because they were given substandard treatment.

Page 6: More than 20,000ha of pine plantations are set to be chopped down as part of a new bid to save the ailing Gnangara Mound, Perth's main groundwater source.

Growers in the South West fear the state government will introduce licence fees for farm dams, almost two years after a Labor plan to introduce what was dubbed a "rainwater tax" was quashed.

Page 7: The state government will consider a fourfold increase in fines for anglers who catch prized fish without a licence under new measures to protect stocks.

Page 11: Australian businesses are holding on to staff they have but have given up looking for new people as new figures show another substantial fall in job advertisements.

Formal steps have begun to settle a $500 million damages case relating to the HIH collapse, which has hung over federal opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Page 14: Attractive and improving rental returns are enticing investors back into the property market with new figures listing Tuart Hill and Glendalough as the best bets.

Business: An alliance of WA's biggest gas users has hinted that the competition watchdog was leant on by its political masters to approve anti-competitive selling arrangements for the massive Gorgon gas project off the state's North West because of its potential to be a "recession busting" project.

Avoca Resources has bowed to criticism that it had undervalued Dioro Exploration by yesterday boosting the value of its scrip offer for the gold miner by as much as $22 million.

Some of Australia's biggest superannuation funds are switching billions of dollars into lower-cost, index tracking products in an attempt to drive down the fees managers charge.

Murchison Metals shares sank to a two-month low yesterday as investors downgraded the Mid West iron ore player's chances of staving off a potentially ruinous court battle.

Rio Tinto has taken the value of non-core asset sales since last year to nearly $US5 billion ($6.3 billion) after striking a landmark deal yesterday to offload part of Alcan's packaging assets.

A 26 per cent fall on the domestic sharemarket, global economic turmoil and the spiralling cost of debt led Australian companies to tap investors for a record $90 billion in 2008-09.

Resources billionaire Clive Palmer has taken a swipe at WA's environmental watchdog after it recommended a public environmental review level of assessment over proposed expansions to his projects at and around Cape Preston.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The states are facing a royalties black hole of up to $3 billion this financial year as a stronger Australian dollar and lower commodity prices slash revenues, following a bumper 2008-09 in which royalty income soared to a record $7.9 billion.

CBD property values are under intense pressure as failed companies and those desperate for cash are drastically reducing price expectations for a raft of impending transactions.

Consumers are set to be hit with a multi-million-dollar recycling levy as computer and television manufacturers finalise plans to dispose of outdated and dangerous technology.

Page 3: The federal government will have to borrow $1 billion less than foreshadowed in the May budget thanks to a windfall profit managing its multi-billion-dollar debt portfolio.

Page 5: Homebuyers appear unlikely to get any more interest rate relief today, despite signs the economic downturn has crippled labour demand and is dragging inflation sharply lower.

Page 6: Western Australian has rejected the federal government's offer to guarantee its bonds, arguing its ability to raise almost $6 billion in debt this year has improved markedly in the three months since it first appealed for Commonwealth help.

Page 9: Small businesses will find it harder to sack people without detailed documentary evidence required under the federal government's new industrial relations laws, business groups and employment lawyers say.

Page 11: A company controlled by former ABC Learning Centres board member Martin Kemp has agreed to pay $1.8 million to Lift Capital for an outstanding margin-loan debt triggered by plummeting ABC shares.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The Fair Work Ombudsman will use new powers to investigate companies for discriminating against workers, prompting employers to claim they risk being treated as "guilty until proven innocent".

When the Reserve Bank board meets today in Sydney to set interest rates for the month ahead, there will be no ballot and probably not even a show of hands to confirm which way the decision should go.

Page 3: Coal mining magnate Ken Talbot was so generous, he gave money to close friend and former Macarthur Coal director Don Nissen, then Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett, as well as alleged secret commissions to Beattie government minister Gordon Nuttall, a court has heard.

Page 4: Employers made further sharp cuts to their online recruitment last month, raising concern that this week's labour force survey could push the unemployment rate towards 6 per cent.

Page 5: While Peter Costello has called time on his political career, party sources said a return would be accommodated if he were to change his mind.

Business: Rio Tinto appears a step closer to the long-awaited $US2 billion ($2.5bn) sale of Alcan packaging assets to Amcor after reaching an agreement to sell part of the business Amcor did not want to US company Bemis.

Institutional shareholders in BT Investment Management are demanding the Westpac-backed group explain the accelerated departure of chief executive Dirk Morris.

Contrasting strategies of the nation's major banks mean their credit ratings have the potential to diverge, despite all holding a coveted AA rating over the past few years, according to a paper issued by Standard & Poor's.

The global recession continues to worsen, but the Australian economy is showing signs of recovery.

Almost one third of businesses expect to lay off staff this quarter amid ongoing concerns about plunging sales and profits.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has again raised concerns at the interest that banks are charging on floating rate mortgages.

The Muslim Community Co-operative (Australia) is confident of securing a banking licence in three years to become Australia's first Islamic bank.

Cape Lambert Iron Ore plans to launch an all-scrip takeover bid for gold explorer Corvette Resources.

The fall in advertising at Australian metropolitan daily newspapers in recent months may be starting to level off, with new figures showing Fairfax Media's classified page ad volumes in June recorded their lowest rate of decline since late last year.

A US federal judge has approved the sale of General Motors' assets to a new government-run company, removing a key hurdle to the carmaker's plan to exit bankruptcy.

Producers in the US and Europe have increased prices for flat steel by $US50 a tonne or more and in some cases restarted idle production as customers replenish inventories and carmakers benefit from government-sponsored car-scrapping subsidies.

At tiny, backwater branches in rural India, banks are raking in rupees and making loans at record levels, reflecting an economic resilience in the populous countryside.

Unguaranteed is the new guaranteed. In the US, banks paying back taxpayer cash have sworn off government support for bond issues. In Europe, a growing number of banks want to show they can borrow on their own merits.

The Australian sharemarket closed lower, dragged down by weakness in the mining and energy sector as investors waited for companies in the US to start reporting their financial results.

Companies listed on the Australian sharemarket raised a record $90 billion in capital during the 2008-09 financial year, despite the global economic crisis.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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