09/07/2009 - 06:49

Today's Business Headlines

09/07/2009 - 06:49

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Chinese concede ore price cut; IMF raises its world forecast; Stokes linked to Packer raid; New pain for ANZ to top $300m; Canadian slap on wrist for Qantas

Chinese concede ore price cut
Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton look to have won a major concession from their Chinese steel mill customers amid a report the annual benchmark pricing system is being scrapped in favour of a six-monthly contract. The West

IMF raises its world forecast
The International Monetary Fund has raised its forecast for global economic growth next year by 0.6 of a percentage point to 2.5 per cent, but warned recovery from recession would be sluggish. The Australian

Stokes linked to Packer raid
The Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Network is the likely buyer of a $175 million stake in James Packer's Consolidated Media after a stunning raid on the company that would leave Seven with enough shares to block a takeover. The Australian

New pain for ANZ to top $300m
ANZ Bank is facing more than $300 million in writedowns on loans and investments relating to its troubled private equity operations. Herald Sun

Canadian slap on wrist for Qantas
Qantas has admitted to illegally fixing air cargo charges in a third country, in the latest chapter of the unravelling of a global cartel that is set to climax soon when European authorities hand down a heavy fine to the Australian carrier. The Age

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Relations with China have been plunged into crisis over the detention of a senior Australian mining executive in Shanghai on suspicion of spying and stealing state secrets.

Page 4: Australian shoppers have stared down the global financial crisis, high petrol prices and even small increases in mortgage interest rates, with confidence returning to the highs of the mining boom.

Page 9: Rock lobster fishermen are bracing for more restrictions next season after a key advisor committee to the state government warned tougher measures were needed to protect stocks.

Page 11: A $60 million holes in the state's finances looms after Chinese steel mills yesterday reportedly negotiated a 33 per cent cut in iron ore prices for this year, a bigger drop than WA Treasury had factored into its royalty forecasts.

Page 13: The proponent of a major ethanol plant near Rockingham is finalising supply contracts to help secure half a million tonnes of grain a year to convert into fuel.

Business: Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton look to have won a major concession from their Chinese steel mill customers amid a report the annual benchmark pricing system is being scrapped in favour of a six-monthly contract.

A $150 million investment plunge by an unknown buyer yesterday sparked speculation that Kerry Stokes had increased his holding in James Packer's Consolidated Media.

Official figures confirmed that output in the 16 countries that use the euro shrank 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 from the previous three-month period as the global recession sapped the industrial exports that the eurozone relies on for growth.

Macquarie Infrastructure Group is believed to have drawn only lukewarm interest in its program of planned asset sales, raising pressure on the toll-road operator to push ahead with a capital raising to pay down debt.

Perth man Quentin Ward has become the first financial adviser to be banned for dealing over failed fuel technology company Firepower.

Big Four accounting firm Deloitte's Perth branch has appointed two new partners to its corporate reorganisation arm, reflecting a boost in the number of companies requiring help to cope with the downturn.

WA grain handling giant CBH Group has countered mounting criticism of its co-operative structure by devising a so-called "loyalty payment" for growers who deliver to its GrainPool marketing arm.

China's biggest nickel company, Jinchuan Group, has expanded its presence in WA, yesterday signing a two-year offtake deal with Terry Streeter's Western Areas.

Directors of Browse Basin explorer Karoon Gas have cased in on their company's status as one of the best performing S&P-ASX 200 stocks this year by offloading nearly $12 million worth of stock.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Iron ore price negotiations with China were facing new uncertainty last night after revelations that Rio Tinto executives had been detained on suspicion of stealing state secrets, amid a broader crackdown on traders in the country's steel and commodities industries.

The receivers for ABC Learning are preparing to sell its 720 profitable centres as a single business, as the banks in control of the childcare operator face renewed pressure to provide certainty to parents and employees.

Optimism is building that Australia may be emerging from the worst of the downturn, with consumer confidence and home loans climbing strongly as the International Monetary FundI overnight upgraded forecasts for a global recovery.

Kerry Stokes spent almost $80 million in a sharemarket raid yesterday on James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings, as he pursues a long-held ambition to be a big player in pay television.

Page 3: Employers could be hit with a steeper increase in the minimum wage next year to compensate for the pay freeze imposed on the poorest workers by the Australian Fair Pay Commission.

Page 5: Treasurer Wayne Swan has ruled out a systematic review of the financial system and says a government-owned bank is not needed to boost competition.

Page 6: Unions have called on company chiefs to share the pain of a total wage freeze for the country's lowest paid workers, claiming that business leaders need to lead by example.

Page 11: Corporate governance standards for listed companies have declined across the board, despite the onset of the financial crisis and a push by regulators and world leaders for better standards.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Australia and China are on a diplomatic collision course after a senior Australian mining executive was arrested in Shanghai by secret police on charges of espionage and theft of state secrets.

Almost half the water entitlements purchased under the national Murray-Darling rescue plan last financial year will never reach the distressed Murray system except in times of flood.

The International Monetary Fund has raised its forecast for global economic growth next year by 0.6 of a percentage point to 2.5 per cent, but warned recovery from recession would be sluggish.

Page 2: World environment ministers have failed to break major deadlocks in international climate change negotiations during a marathon meeting in Rome, making it unlikely global leaders meeting today will succeed in their stated aim of pushing forward stalled international talks.

Stern Hu, or Hu Shitai, to use his Chinese name, is a rare case of a foreigner charged with stealing state secrets.

Page 4: The International Monetary Fund last night raised its forecast for global economic growth next year by 0.6 of a percentage point to 2.5 per cent, but warned recovery from recession would be sluggish.

Competition regulator Graeme Samuel has foreshadowed a mini-financial system inquiry if another "significant" merger is proposed for the banking industry.

Employers yesterday declared workers had accepted extraordinary changes to their conditions, including pay cuts and shorter hours, and generally understood the need for a freeze in minimum wages during the economic downturn.

Hundreds of workers employed by the Ikea retail chain have secured some of the most progressive workplace benefits in the nation, including 26 weeks paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity leave.

Perth business owner Darryl Edwards has struggled to find experienced staff during Western Australia's labour shortage, so sacking his prized employees to survive the economic downturn is not an option.

Page 5: Local government authorities have demanded urgent advice from Kevin Rudd on future funding for roads and infrastructure in the wake of a landmark High Court decision that could restrict the commonwealth's ability to spend public money.

Page 7: Internet giant Google has fired the latest salvo at Microsoft with plans to build its own operating system for computers.

More families are being squeezed into homelessness by the high costs of private rental, but better support services have led to fewer teenagers on the streets.

Business: The Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Network is the likely buyer of a $175 million stake in James Packer's Consolidated Media after a stunning raid on the company that would leave Seven with enough shares to block a takeover.

The remnants of Babcock & Brown yesterday suffered another embarrassing retreat from its era of excess, recording a 99 per cent loss on its investment in Israel's yellow pages business.

Terry Peabody's Transpacific Industries admitted yesterday that past earnings had been inflated with undisclosed one-off items, such as profits from land sales.

As China yesterday continued to hold a senior Rio Tinto executive on "suspicion of espionage and stealing state secrets", more evidence emerged that its steel mills were weakening in protracted talks with the miner over iron ore prices.

The big four bank bosses lobbied Wayne Swan last month about hostile proposed laws, amid intensifying industry concerns that the federal government will seek voter-friendly concessions as the nation emerges from the financial crisis.

Two months before the release of a controversial draft report into executive pay, a study has uncovered a decline in the number of big listed companies with properly established and functioning remuneration committees.

National Australia Bank has reassigned Peter Thodey from the chief executive's office to running the bank's exit from unwanted assets, previously housed in the now-disbanded institutional business, nabCapital.

ANZ will outsource its mortgage processing operations and move to full automation, affecting 248 jobs, mostly in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford has attacked the federal government's emissions trading scheme, warning that the costs of operating the intricate system would be borne by consumers.

Macquarie Infrastructure Group is considering ways to help security-holders, amid speculation of radical changes for the toll road owner as it grapples with high debt and some poorly performing assets.

The value of Australia's wine exports fell by 10 per cent over the past financial year, the second straight year of decline as the global financial crisis led drinkers to trade down to cheaper tipples.

China's Jinchuan Group has agreed to a two-year deal to buy nickel from Western Areas that is not earmarked for BHP Billiton.

Policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic have launched an effort to crack down on what they call speculation in oil markets, underscoring concerns that a sharp rise in oil prices could worsen the global economic downturn.

Merrill Lynch spent decades building one of Wall Street's premier investment banks. Undoing that work has taken just months.

The International Monetary Fund yesterday upgraded its outlook for 2010 while slightly trimming this year's forecast.

Shares recouped losses to finish flat as miners rallied on a report that China had agreed to a 33 per cent cut in iron ore prices.

Risk aversion has hit the Australian dollar hard in Asia, and analysts expect further losses offshore as investors once again move away from high-yield currencies.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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