05/08/2009 - 06:55

Today's Business Headlines

05/08/2009 - 06:55


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Perth office vacancies worst in 17 years; RBS deal furthers ANZ's Asia push; Bankers punt on renewed appetite for IPOs; Avoca chief warns rival for Dioro is unproven; Rates on hold, but not for long

Perth office vacancies worst in 17 years
The Perth and West Perth office markets has experienced the largest percentage increase in the vacancy rate since January 1992, with the Property Council of Australia's Office Market Report, released today, highlighting the impact of the global financial crisis on the local property sector. WABN

RBS deal furthers ANZ's Asia push
ANZ has agreed to buy some of Royal Bank of Scotland's Asian businesses for about $690 million. Canberra Times

Bankers punt on renewed appetite for IPOs
The market's breakneck shift from fear to greed has whetted the appetite of investors and merchant bankers eager to take advantage of bullish sentiment, with department store Myer's decision to fast-track a float by Christmas likely to kick off an avalanche of new offerings. Sydney Morning Herald

Avoca chief warns rival for Dioro is unproven
Avoca Resources has begun its attack on Ramelius Resources in an attempt to discredit the share price value of its rival in the Dioro Exploration takeover battle. The West

Rates on hold, but not for long
The Reserve Bank left interest rates on hold at 3 per cent at its meeting today in a sign that its rate cutting cycle may be over. Adelaide Advertiser




Page 3: Another three West Australians with swine flu have died, including the first child in WA, prompting health authorities to warn people at risk of severe complications to seek urgent treatment if they get sick.

WA scientists say the National Health and Medical Research Council ignored promising leads in the bid to beat swine flu after none of its $7 million emergency research fund went to WA projects.

Page 10: The Reserve Bank has signalled an end to interest rate cuts - but they may not go up until well into next year.

Page 15: Transport Minister Simon O'Brien has welcomed union calls for armed police and undercover officers on buses while ruling out an increase in fares to cover the cost of the security upgrade.

Page 18: Chinese investment is set to swell without any scrutiny by Canberra after Treasurer Wayne Swan revealed an overhaul of foreign investment laws.

Business: Jac Nasser, the Melbourne-raised Lebanese immigrant known as "Jac the Knife" for his ruthless cost-cutting, has been tapped to replace long-standing BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus from early next year.

Avoca Resources has begun its attack on Ramelius Resources in an attempt to discredit the share price value of its rival in the Dioro Exploration takeover battle.

Indian company Shiva Industries and a group of UK investors are thought to remain in the race to secure the collapsed Windimurra Vanadium.

WA floorings chain Carpet Hotline has tied the knot with national competitor Carpet Court Australia in a move its founders say will offer better buying power and protection from any further industry rationalisation.

Indian fertiliser investor Vikas Rambal has submitted a draft public environmental review for his proposed $3.5 billion Collie urea plant ahead of the announcement this morning of a new partnership over the ambitious project.

Australia's biggest department store chain could be back on the trading boards by Christmas, with Myer confirming widespread speculation that its private equity owners were looking tot-forward float plans.

ANZ has promised to push ahead with further acquisitions as part of efforts to build a pan-Asian bank, even as it beds down some of Royal Bank of Scotland's Asian banking assets.



Page 1: The incoming chairman of BHP Billiton, Jacques Nasser, will move to repair relations with China and oversee a new chapter in the mining group's history as it exercises its unchallenged financial strengths to expand through acquisitions and take advantage of weakened rivals.

Federal opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has blamed Treasury official Godwin Grech for deceiving him with a fake email, in an embarrassing admission that has sparked renewed government demands for him to resign over his handling of the "Utegate" affair.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group has spent $687 million on 54 Asian bank branches acquired from Royal Bank of Scotland, setting them up as a launch pad for its ambition to become a "super-regional" bank.

Page 3: One in five foreign investors who buy Australian assets and companies will no longer have to ask permission from the federal government's Foreign Investment Review Board.

Page 5: Trevor Rowe yesterday announced his intention to retire from his $150,000-a-year directorship of the Australian Securities Exchange, the second major post he has relinquished since becoming embroiled in controversy over the Queensland government's links to big business.

Page 9: GM Holden has sought to secure the future of its six-cylinder Commodore by introducing Australian-made engines that the company said would be 13 per cent more fuel-efficient.

Page 11: An unexpected fall in retail sales has underlined fears that households will cut back sharply on their spending as unemployment rises and the boost to income from federal government handouts fades.



Page 1: Malcolm Turnbull has turned on public servant and leaker Godwin Grech, accusing him of using a forged email to dupe the opposition into demanding Kevin Rudd's resignation over the so-called OzCar affair.

Buried in the OzCar audit report is a fascinating case study of how the Rudd government favours lobby groups perceived to be "onside" and freezes out those seen to be critical.

Page 2: The next move for interest rates is likely to be an increase, with the Reserve Bank increasingly confident that the threat of recession has passed.

Non-government organisations are pushing to dominate the agenda of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Cairns, which starts today.

Page 3: A world-first Australian technology will soon allow Jetstar passengers to receive their boarding passes via SMS.

Page 7: Auditor-General Ian McPhee has cleared the Rudd government of making any improper representations on behalf of Labor mates, instead accusing senior Treasury official Godwin Grech of giving special treatment to a Liberal Party-affiliated car dealer.

John Grant, Kevin Rudd's neighbour and used-car donor, denied yesterday that he had ever name-dropped his political connections to Treasury officials.

The disputed email at the heart of the OzCar affair may have vanished when backups of Treasury IT systems failed, Godwin Grech has claimed.

Page 9: Kevin Rudd effectively wiped the $90,000 campaign debt of failed Labor candidate Peter Tinley in less than three hours in April when he dined with oil and gas executives and business leaders in Perth.

Business: Former Ford boss Jacques Nasser will guide BHP Billiton through its next stage of development, replacing Don Argus as chairman in corporate Australia's most prestigious role early next year.

Trevor Rowe told Australian Securities Exchange chairman David Gonski "eight to 10 weeks" ago -- long before his name was dragged into the latest Labor mates scandal in Queensland -- that he would not be seeking re-election to the board.

ANZ Bank could acquire "two or three" Asian businesses of similar size to the Royal Bank of Scotland assets it bought for $US550 million ($687m) as it exploits a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for regional expansion at bargain-basement prices.

The Reserve Bank has indicated that the interest rate cutting cycle is over as financial markets prepare for a stream of rate rises to control the Australian economy's recovery.

New BHP Billiton chairman Jacques Nasser may have big shoes to fill, replacing the well known and highly regarded Don Argus, but he has already paved a respectable path for himself in global corporate circles.

Ten Network Holdings' debt-laden controlling shareholder, Canadian group Canwest Global Communications, will see its stake in Ten fall to just 50.1 per cent, after it was yesterday unable to participate in a $138 million capital raising.

HSBC Australia plans to build up its client trading book and reduce proprietary dealings, in a bid to sustain a strong profit from positions taken in the current volatile markets.

Department store group Myer has flagged a stockmarket float of up to $1.5 billion by the end of the year as it enters the final phase of a four-year turnaround strategy.

Curbs on foreign investment by private companies have been relaxed, but all investments by state-owned Chinese businesses will still have to run the gauntlet of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Education provider Navitas has achieved a 32 per cent rise in full-year profit and says the global financial crisis may be working in its favour, with another year of double-digit earnings growth expected.

The general manager of transport infrastructure Asciano Group's container ports division has quit, and the group is also set to lose its chief operating officer.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has blasted top US financial regulators in an expletive-laced critique as frustration grows over the Obama administration's faltering plan to overhaul US financial regulation.

UBS chief executive Oswald Grubel says he expects the Swiss government to sell its equity stake in the bank by the year end -- but has no indication from the government of when that would take place.

China's attempts to get cheaper iron ore prices than the rest of Asia has been dealt another blow, as import figures show strong buying was sustained last month despite concerns that stockpiles would slow demand.

The Australian sharemarket has closed at a nine-month high, boosted by the resources sector and major banks.



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