BHP diverts from Rio market deal; ANZ ready for battle of merger ambitions; Tax Office widens blitz on executives; CBA plays follow-the-leader on fees; Surprise export rise trims deficit
BHP diverts from Rio market deal
BHP Billiton has moved away from a commitment to market separately the product from its proposed iron ore joint venture in Western Australia with Rio Tinto. Canberra Times
ANZ ready for battle of merger ambitions
The chief executive of ANZ, Mike Smith, delivered a broadside to the competition regulator, saying the commission's stance against further bank mergers would not stop it from trying to buy a smaller domestic rival. Sydney Morning Herald
Tax Office widens blitz on executives
The Australian Taxation Office will target more wealthy people, company executives and business conducting cross-border transactions this tax year, amid signs the economic downturn has triggered a return of tax dodges prevalent during the last recession. The Fin Review
CBA plays follow-the-leader on fees
The Commonwealth Bank, Australia's largest home lender, has been forced to cut fees on its bank accounts and mortgages to keep pace with rivals that have already slashed customer transaction costs. The Australian
Surprise export rise trims deficit
The trade deficit has narrowed on a surprise lift in export volumes, increasing the chances that the economy continued to expand in the June quarter in defiance of the deep global downturn. The Fin Review
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:
Page 3: Premier Colin Barnett yesterday sounded the death knell for more than a quarter of WA's local councils, warning that shires with a population under 1,000 would not remain viable.
Page 6: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has questioned Malcolm Turnbull's integrity and his capacity to remain opposition leader.
Page 7: Public transport security may be taken over by auxiliary police officers who would be able to carry Taser stunguns on buses and trains, under a proposal being considered by the state government.
Page 12: The recession-driven stampede out of the city office market has been reinforced by new figures that show the commercial vacancy rate posted its biggest jump in 17 years in the first half of the year.
Page 15: Prime Minster Kevin Rudd offered yesterday to help build sea walls and rehouse people driven from their homes in Pacific Island nations that have sought help to deal with rising seas and savage storms brought on by climate change.
Business: BHP Billiton Iron Ore boss Ian Ashby has scoffed at an obligation to haul junior companies' Pilbara iron ore, saying the miner would never build "latent" rail capacity and therefore could avoid having to help its smaller peers develop their deposits.
David Jones is dipping its toes back into the digital water, confirming plans to "significantly grow" its online strategy six years after abandoning its first foray into the sector.
BankWest and its parent, Commonwealth Bank, announced yesterday they would cut a range of penalty fees, after similar moves by National Australia Bank and Westpac last week.
Axa Asia Pacific delivered a 13 per cent drop in first-half earnings, but its Asian business - mostly based in Hong Kong - cushioned the wealth manager from the full impact of the slump in global investment markets.
THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:
Page 1: The Australian Taxation Office will target more wealthy people, company executives and business conducting cross-border transactions this tax year, amid signs the economic downturn has triggered a return of tax dodges prevalent during the last recession.
Australia's financial system remains vulnerable to global shocks because of its reliance on foreign borrowings, a fact that also threatens the pace of recovery by hampering the flow and availability of capital in the economy.
Page 3: New car sales plummeted in July as the federal government's investment allowance, which had shielded the industry from the worst of the downturn, tapered off and households continued to cut back on discretionary spending.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group chief executive Mike Smith has warned that banks may have to raise mortgage rates because of higher funding costs and urged the Reserve Bank not to increase the official cash rate.
Page 7: The trade deficit has narrowed on a surprise lift in export volumes, increasing the chances that the economy continued to expand in the June quarter in defiance of the deep global downturn.
Page 8: When Labor lost power in Western Australia in September, seasoned lobbyist Peter Clough should have sent the writing on the wall.
Page 13: Business creating artificial losses in a bid to cut tax bills will come under scrutiny
from the Australian Taxation Office this year, amid concerns the squeeze on corporate earnings could lead some firms into window-dressing restructures and evasive cross-border tax schemes.
Page 1: Union heavyweight Bill Ludwig and Queensland ALP president Ron Monaghan oversaw a decision to invest $100 million with a company advised by Labor mate Jim Elder's lobbying firm that resulted in a $1m '' success fee'' being paid to another Labor figure.
Private equity firm J.C. Flowers, which boasts former Westpac chief executive David Morgan as an operating partner and Australian chairman, has run the numbers on embattled Queensland banking and insurance group Suncorp.
Page 3: The Commonwealth Bank, Australia's largest home lender, has been forced to cut fees on its bank accounts and mortgages to keep pace with rivals that have already slashed customer transaction costs.
Page 4: The Auditor-General, Ian McPhee, has sharply criticised key aspects of the Treasury's management of the OzCar program, including its rushed decision to choose Credit Suisse as lead project manager without the normal tender process.
Healthy growth in export shipments has increased the chance that Australia will record a second consecutive quarter of positive economic growth in the June quarter.
Business: Department store group David Jones is maintaining a cautious stance on the extent of recovery in the domestic economy despite rebounding into positive sales growth during the fourth quarter as the stockmarket surge boosted confidence among its well-heeled clientele.
The Commonwealth Bank has admitted its system for valuing properties was misused by staff to give bigger loans to clients of the failed Storm Financial.
The jurisdictional tug-of-war continues in relation to a landmark court action on behalf of Australian investors seeking the return of more than $100 million invested in synthetic debt instruments.
BHP Billiton iron ore boss Ian Ashby says China's iron ore inventories are returning to normal, meaning near record iron ore imports for the Asian nation are all going into blast furnaces churning out the giant's increased steel production.
China is ramping up its campaign against Australian iron ore miners, saying its steel mills would prefer to import more iron ore from Brazil.
AXA Asia Pacific Holdings is ready to pursue opportunities in Asia after navigating the worst of the financial crisis to report a near-trebling in June half-year profit from $94.2 million to $270.4m.
Qantas will launch a major push to boost its domestic market share by targeting the small and medium enterprise flyers who are crucial to Virgin Blue's strategy to boost profitability.
Government intervention is changing the car industry before our eyes and not just because the Obama administration's taxpayer underwritten restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler.
Economists are predicting a brighter second half of the year as the cash-for-clunkers program boosts spending and US manufacturers ramp up their production.