08/07/2009 - 06:48

Today's Business Headlines

08/07/2009 - 06:48

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Profit season looming as worst for 20 years; Wages freeze to protect jobs; Barnett takes the razor off Treasurer; Great Southern declared insolvent; ABB cuts profit forecast

Today's Business Headlines

Profit season looming as worst for 20 years
Investors are bracing themselves for the worst profit season in nearly two decades, with earnings set to fall sharply and dividends still under pressure as corporate Australia takes a buffeting from the global economic crisis. Sydney Morning Herald

Wages freeze to protect jobs
Fair Pay Commission has cited economic pressures on employers and frozen the minimum wage for the first time since the 1982 recession, forcing the nation's lowest-paid workers to accept a cut in real wages. The Australian

Barnett takes the razor off Treasurer
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has taken control of the government's most important economic committee, which oversees the government's razor gang, in a rebuke to Treasurer Troy Buswell. The Australian

Great Southern declared insolvent
Receivers for the Great Southern Group declared the managed investment company insolvent yesterday, two months after it collapsed, but 40,000 investors must wait another two months to learn the fate of $1.8 billion they pumped into the group's tax-driven schemes. The Fin Review

ABB cuts profit forecast
Grains handler ABB Grain has downgraded its annual profit guidance for the second time, blaming slowing consumption of beer in Asia and the reluctance of Australian farmers to buy fertiliser and merchandise to grow crops. Canberra Times

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 4: Unions have accused the Fair Pay Commission of giving low-paid workers a "kick in the guts" by not increasing the minimum wage despite the Reserve Bank painting a rosy picture for the Australian economy.

Page 6: Senior St John Ambulance paramedics have claimed they were ordered by management to stop collating regular "death logs" which highlighted the service's response times to emergencies.

Page 7: A Tiger Airways flight from Melbourne to Perth with 180 passengers "went missing" yesterday after the crew opted to turn back because of possible fog in Perth.

Page 11: Vegetable growers will have to make drastic cuts to their water use as part of the state government's draft strategy to save the Gnangara Mound.

Page 15: Recycling centres across Perth are losing thousands of dollars because they have to stockpile paper, glass, copper and aluminium cans as the slump in commodity prices and falling overseas demand continues to bite hard.

Business: Receivers for collapsed agricultural investment manager Great Southern have given their strongest indication yet that the group's 45 managed investment schemes are insolvent and will need to be wound up.

An Australian man is among four Rio Tinto employees arrested and detained by Chinese authorities.

Credit Suisse says Avoca Resources is likely to succeed in its sweetened scrip play for Dioro Exploration as long as its target's Canadian joint venture partner, La Mancha Resources, remains on the sidelines.

Kagara's retail shareholders have chipped in about $52 million to help the base metals miner raise almost $220 million in much-needed cash.

The battle of the bulge has delivered a bumper profit for Australia's dominant gym chain, Fitness First, which saw its earnings jump more than a quarter last year as the economy went into a tailspin.

Reduced demand for beer from Asian drinkers and weaker sales of farm inputs have forced ABB Grain to issue its second earnings downgrade in as many months, a move some analysts warned would scupper hopes of an increased bid by Canadian suitor Viterra.

Investors are reviewing their property portfolios with the aim of retaining those that can be refurbished to achieve a Green Star rating at minimum cost and shedding those that are more problematic, according to the property industry.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Investors stand to miss out on more than $7 billion in dividend income this year as companies slash payouts to preserve capital and repair balance sheets, capping off the worst period for shareholder returns in almost three decades.

Business has been spared any increase in wage costs for the one million-plus low-paid workforce after the government's minimum wage umpire froze the pay of the country's poorest workers in a bid to contain an expected rise in unemployment.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has left the door open to more interest rate relief, buts says the local downturn has not been as severe as feared and appears increasingly upbeat about prospects for the global economy.

Page 3: Receivers for the Great Southern Group declared the managed investment company insolvent yesterday, two months after it collapsed, but 40,000 investors must wait another two months to learn the fate of $1.8 billion they pumped into the group's tax-driven schemes.

Page 5: Big Four accounting firm KPMG has again taken the knife to employee costs, slashing the working hours of staff up to 20 per cent and telling them they might be required to take up to 12 weeks' leave.

Page 13: Borrowers appear to have missed the boat in fixing at the low point of the rate cycle following an increase in fixed-rate pricing over the past two months.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The Fair Pay Commission has cited economic pressures on employers and frozen the minimum wage for the first time since the 1982 recession, forcing the nation's lowest-paid workers to accept a cut in real wages.

Brigitte Houldsworth was counting on a small pay rise. She planned to use the extra few dollars a week to cover some of the costs involved in going back to university part-time to improve her qualifications.

World leaders need an exit strategy from the unprecedented spending and government intervention they resorted to during the global economic crisis, and should use the G20 to co-ordinate it, Kevin Rudd said in a speech in Berlin last night.

Page 2: Victoria Bitter, the beer that for three generations was for a hard-earned thirst, will now be known as "the drinking beer", as Foster's launches a new campaign for the venerable brand.

Page 3: Microsoft has taken the rare step of warning about a serious computer security vulnerability it has not fixed yet.

Page 4: Julia Gillard has condemned the Australian Fair Pay Commission's decision to freeze minimum wages, saying it failed to "strike the right balance" and would send low-paid workers' incomes backwards.

A battle of trucks broke out yesterday as the opposition and Labor raced to deliver to voters competing messages about debt, deficits and stimulus.

Page 5: Canberra yesterday announced the first down-payment on its national homelessness pact with the states and territories, just hours after coming under fire for failing to deliver on the funding promised to the homeless.

A proposed hike in cigarette tax will make the importation of illegal tobacco more profitable, potentially enticing new players into what is already a booming criminal market.

The Commonwealth could be forced to enlist the states to dish out money to local councils, schools and taxpayers in the future, following a landmark High Court decision yesterday.

Page 7: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has taken control of the government's most important economic committee, which oversees the government's razor gang, in a rebuke to Treasurer Troy Buswell.

Business: The Reserve Bank has urged corporate Australia to sustain efforts to rebuild balance sheets through capital raisings to support recovery from the global economic downturn.

Banks expect only a modest increase at best in their business lending books this year.

Former Optus chief Chris Anderson and Ziggy Switkowski, who has led both Optus and Telstra, are believed to be on a shortlist of candidates to chair the federal government's $43 billion national broadband network.

European competition regulators could be a hurdle for Amcor's proposed $US2 billion ($2.5 billion) acquisition of Rio Tinto's remaining Alcan packaging assets -- a purchase that is otherwise being viewed positively by most in the market.

Takeover talk around Santos is intensifying again ahead of September 1, when oil and gas giants that may have been restricted from making a hostile bid for the company have their hands freed.

Santos has flagged the sale of more non-core assets as it approaches a decision on the $500 million sale of Timor Sea assets.

Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest iron ore producer, says four employees from its Shanghai office have been detained for questioning by authorities in the city.

A slowdown in demand for beer in Asia has resulted in a downgrade in earnings for barley exporter ABB Grain.

Regulator Wheat Exports Australia has accredited Greentree Farming Exports as the first farming-based company permitted to export bulk wheat, ending a 20-year journey for principal Ron Greentree, possibly the nation's biggest wheat grower.

A weak pricing environment and higher oil prices have prompted RBS to slash its 2009-10 pre-tax profit forecast for Qantas by almost 40 per cent.

Crude oil traded near a five-week low on a stronger US dollar and concerns that slow fuel consumption will lead to an increase in stockpiles.

Some of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy in the world are the wind, the sun -- and the lowly wood pellet.

The Department of Justice has begun looking into whether large US telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon Communications are abusing the market power they have amassed in recent years.

A Goldman Sachs computer programmer who quit last month has been arrested and charged with stealing codes related to a high-speed trading program he helped develop.

Shares fell for the third straight day to close at a six-week low after a commodities sell-off hit miners and energy producers.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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