14/07/2009 - 06:44

Today's Business Headlines

14/07/2009 - 06:44

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China, Stern Hu spying crisis deepens; CBA 'locks out brokers'; Asciano boss riles investors; Fortescue exceeds forecast; Investors want Bowen to act

Today's Business Headlines

China, Stern Hu spying crisis deepens
Australia's iron ore crisis with China threatened to take a dramatic new turn yesterday, with reports Rio Tinto had suspended spot market sales and rumours BHP Billiton may also be under investigation. Herald Sun

CBA 'locks out brokers'
The Commonwealth Bank has been accused of locking mortgage brokers out of the $700 billion home lending market in a bitter battle for market dominance. The Australian

Asciano boss riles investors
Asciano boss Mark Rowsthorn and his banker, UBS, will dump up to $79.8 million of the company's stock on the sharemarket to help pay for his liability under the company's capital raising -- a deal that could reap the managing director a $6.65 million windfall. Sydney Morning Herald

Fortescue exceeds forecast
Operations at Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group have improved in the fourth quarter with the self-proclaimed "third force in iron ore" reporting record shipments last month and beating a previously lowered forecast. The Australian

Investors want Bowen to act
Great Southern Investors have called on Financial Services Minister Chris Bowen to intervene in the receivership of the collapsed group, warning they had lost confidence in the "fundamentally flawed" process being run by receiver McGrathNicol. The West

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Premier Colin Barnett faces the prospect of a Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry over allegations he had a conflict of interest when he moved in state parliament to have an historic Peppermint Grove residence removed from the state heritage register.

Page 9: The number of available beds at Royal Perth Hospital reached a critical point yesterday, leaving some wards short staffed and prompting WA's leading doctors' group to warn that the health system was struggling to cope with the busy winter season.

Page 10: Colin Barnett said yesterday he would raise the case of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu with officials next week during his trade mission to China.

Kevin Rudd could confront a top official from China at the Labor Party national conference this month over the detention of an Australian mining executive for espionage and bribery.

Page 11: Fuel discounts of up to 40 cents a litre being offered by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths have been criticised as anti-competitive and manipulative.

Page 12: Austal Ships chairman John Rothwell will fight a ban on hiring temporary migrant workers, claiming the company is a victim of a change in the federal government's attitude to subclass 457 visas.

Business: Fortescue Metals group has surprised investors with plans to spend $220 million to fix the processing plant at its flagship Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara in order to finally achieve nameplate production capacity at the 12-month-old $2.8 billion project.

Mirrabooka Investments, whose focus on buying shares in small to mid-cap companies makes it a barometer of the health of the broader sharemarket, flagged yesterday that Australia's economy would outperform the US and Europe, and that there was a reasonable prospect it would avoid a full-blown recession.

Great Southern Investors have called on Financial Services Minister Chris Bowen to intervene in the receivership of the collapsed group, warning they had lost confidence in the "fundamentally flawed" process being run by receiver McGrathNicol.

New Telstra boss David Thodey has emphasised how much the telco prizes Foxtel amid rumours the Seven Network may launch a full takeover bid for Consolidated Media Group.

Avoca Resources has breathed some much-needed fire into its languishing $60 million hostile takeover bid for Dioro Exploration, dropping all conditions and threatening to become an activist shareholder if its bid did not succeed.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The federal government has stepped up the pressure on China for more information about the detention of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu by revealing it has had a series of meetings with the country's acting ambassador, amid signs China's peak iron ore negotiator is open to new talks on a price settlement.

Major accounting firms are under pressure from large business clients to cut audit fees to reflect the economic downturn, compounding the challenges for an industry facing attack from investors burnt by a string of corporate collapses.

A BHP Billiton-led consortium of miners is approaching its rivals to seek support for a privately financed expansion of the $1.2 billion Newcastle coal port, as the nation's ports compete for capital to upgrade congested facilities.

Page 3: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has admitted he is the subject of a complaint to the Corruption and Crime Commission over his central role in a campaign to lift heritage restrictions on a $20 million Perth property owned by mining identity Mark Creasy, who has been revealed as a business associate of the premier's son.

Page 4: GM Holden is poised to increase its exports of engines to China dramatically, boosting Australia's attempts to increase its presence in the world's biggest market for new cars.

Page 5: Loans for property developments and equipment purchases have picked up, in a sign that improving credit conditions and government incentives are helping to stem the fall in business borrowing.

Page 8: Auditors have hot back at critics who have blamed them for failing to alert investors to the financial risks associated with ailing firms.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Social workers, psychologists, dieticians, exercise physiologists and allied health workers will be at the centre of a multi-million-dollar crackdown on Medicare fraud.

Australia's lust for high-dollar Indian students has led to a thriving black market in sham marriages, forged English language exams and bogus courses, and turned a once-respected international education sector into a recognised immigration racket.

A revolving door of acting foreign ministers will oversee the Stern Hu arrest crisis because Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is in Cairo meeting Third World leaders and Kevin Rudd is on "informal leave".

Malcolm Turnbull has clawed back some public support after a politically disastrous attack on Kevin Rudd but languishes as the third choice as Liberal leader after Peter Costello and Joe Hockey.

Page 2: West Australian Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock QC will leave his role within weeks to become special counsel to the state government, overseeing reform in the public sector and the Corruption and Crime Commission.

Page 3: New fixed-rate home lending has crept up to its highest level for a year as home owners take the punt that variable rates may have bottomed.

Page 6: Malcolm Turnbull's leadership remains plagued and limited by Peter Costello's presence and the popularity of the amiable Liberal frontbencher Joe Hockey.

A meeting between the Commonwealth Bank and former Storm Financial policy-holders has agreed to set up a trial group to expedite ways of compensating people who have lost money through their involvement with the financial services company.

Business: The Commonwealth Bank has been accused of locking mortgage brokers out of the $700 billion home lending market in a bitter battle for market dominance.

BHP Billiton has pushed back the proposed development of a $4 billion Queensland coking coal mine by two years amid slowing global steel demand and production cutbacks.

In the flurry of shareholder disclosures last week as two of Australia's richest men, James Packer and Kerry Stokes, butted heads, one small item got lost in the excitement.

The Australian sharemarket closed moderately weaker on falls in resource and financial stocks.

UK Financial Instruments, the body that manages the British government's shares in some of Britain's biggest banks, yesterday admitted it was sitting on paper losses of £10.9 billion ($22.6bn).

Virgin Blue shares plunged 5 per cent yesterday after the group rejected speculation it was poised to announce a $400 million capital raising but stopped short of denying it was seeking more cash.

Listed investment company Mirrabooka Investments has reported a marginal rise in annual operating profit, after shifting some of its cash reserves back into the market.

CSR is considering a range of options for the demerger of its $1 billion-plus sugar business, including a foreign investor taking a substantial stake.

Commonwealth Bank-managed property trusts have shaved more than $500 million off the value of their real estate assets and are bracing for further price declines.

Operations at Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group have improved in the fourth quarter with the self-proclaimed "third force in iron ore" reporting record shipments last month and beating a previously lowered forecast.

UBS and the governments of the US and Switzerland are in talks to settle a major tax-evasion case that could require the Swiss bank to reveal some of the 52,000 account-holder names the US has sought.

China State Construction Engineering Corporation plans to raise at least 40.5 billion yuan ($7.6bn) via an initial public offering in Shanghai in what is expected to be the largest share sale in the world this year.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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