Today's Business Headlines

19/08/2009 - 06:48

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Twiggy's discount no help to China; French, Santos in gas play; Amcor to buy Alcan despite profit dip; NAB grows housing book; Curtin in bid for medical school

Today's Business Headlines

Twiggy's discount no help to China
Fortescue Metals Group's iron ore pricing deal with the China Iron & Steel Association could create more barriers to a 2009 settlement rather than helping to reach a uniform Chinese price, analysts say. The Australian

French, Santos in gas play
GDF Suez, the world's third-biggest buyer of liquefied gas, has taken a $US600 million ($728 million) punt on developing a revolutionary floating LNG project off WA's northern coast. The West

Amcor to buy Alcan despite profit dip
Rio Tinto came a step closer to wiping out its debt yesterday with the planned sale of $2.44 billion in packaging assets to Amcor, despite the company posting an 18.2 per cent plunge in annual profit. Adelaide Advertiser

NAB grows housing book
National Australia Bank will expand its share of the mortgage market by purchasing Challenger Financial Services Group's mortgage management business to build its residential property book, which has expanded at a slower rate than most of its major rivals. Daily Telegraph

Curtin in bid for medical school
Curtin University is looking to set up WA's third medical school in the belief it is needed to help ease the state's health workforce shortage and put more focus on primary care and chronic disease management. The West

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: WA has confirmed its status as a world energy superpower, pulling off Australia's biggest-ever trade deal with a $50 billion contract to supply China with liquefied natural gas from the Gorgon project.

Page 3: Curtin University is looking to set up WA's third medical school in the belief it is needed to help ease the state's health workforce shortage and put more focus on primary care and chronic disease management.

Federal MPs have been awarded a 7 per cent increase in travel allowance to attend Parliament in Canberra - four times the rate of inflation.

Page 5: The boss of the powerful shop assistants' union that dominates the ALP's majority Right faction attacked Labor yesterday for killing off the Barnett government's push to extend weeknight trading hours in the metropolitan area.

Page 6: As the states first commercial trials of genetically modified canola burst into flower, debate is raging over a review of WA laws banning widespread use of the technology.

Page 9: Subiaco Oval is structurally sound and with minor maintenance work could last at least another 40 years, according to a new report.

Business: GDF Suez, the world's third-biggest buyer of liquefied gas, has taken a $US600 million ($728 million) punt on developing a revolutionary floating LNG project off WA's northern coast.

Auditors of the collapsed Elderslie Finance Corporation were concerned about its liability to recover a $67 million loan, but decided against impairing the asset in the group's 2007 accounts.

National Australia Bank is looking to reverse years of losing market share in mortgages after paying $385 million for Challenger Financial's home lending business, in a deal that will see the banking giant become a key player among the nation's mortgage brokers.

Cash Converters has won the respect of the big boys, with major US player EZCorp set to take a $54 million stake in the Brian Cumins-founded pawnbroker after nearly 10 years of talks.

Western Areas managing director Julian Hanna has joined the $1 million annual remuneration club, despite the miner yesterday reporting a $35.2 million loss.

Amcor, coming off an 18 per cent drop in annual headline profit to $212 million, has promised to boost earnings from the Alcan Packaging assets that it will acquire for $2.4 billion.

A slump in demand and lower prices during the June half have resulted in Australia's second biggest steel producer, OneSteel, recording a 32 per cent drop in annual underlying profit.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: China will buy $50 billion worth of Australian gas over the next 20 years in a record trade deal that will underpin Western Australia's massive Gorgon project and possibly ease bilateral commercial tensions.

The federal government's tax review panel is sett to meet with the board of Infrastructure Australia for the first time, amid a renewed push from leading executives and experts for tax incentives to boost private sector investment in infrastructure.

The strength of household spending will be central in determining how soon interest rates are lifted, the Reserve Bank of Australia has suggested, saying the decision would be finely balanced and any return to growth would be "sluggish".

Fibre cement maker James Hardie believes the US housing slump may be nearing the bottom, with a bumper operating profit for its first quarter.

Page 3: fears are growing in the clean energy industry that the federal government's 20 per cent renewable power bill may not pass into law this week because of continued horse trading in the Senate and within the coalition.

Page 5: The sale process for ABC Learning Centres' 720 profitable child-care centres will begin immediately and McGrathNicol receiver Chris Honey will try to sell them as one parcel, the Federal Court heard yesterday.

Page 7: Treasurer Wayne Swan has declared that the government's landmark tax review will consider all options for major reform as he pointedly rejected coalition attempts to get him to rule out any new taxes on family homes.

Page 10: Any lingering doubts about the economics of the $50 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project would surely have been shattered by Exxon Mobil's landmark supply deal with PetroChina yesterday.

Page 11: The retail industry has declared that "Perth is closed for business" after the West Australian Labor Party decided to oppose Liberal Premier Colin Barnett's plan to relax the nation's most restrictive retail trading hours.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The consultant who warned that Aboriginal housing delivery under the $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program was seriously off-track has been sidelined by the NT government.

An Asia-fuelled, decades-long windfall for Australia's natural gas sector looks assured with up to $100 billion of fresh investment over 12 to 18 months expected across a range of projects after China promised last night to buy $50bn worth of natural gas from the proposed North West Shelf Gorgon development.

Canberra's unprecedented stimulus spending to save Australia from the "worst recession since the Great Depression" is coming under increasing fire from economists as consensus builds that the downturn will be a shallow one.

Page 2: The Reserve Bank has flagged that interest rates will soon rise, because inflation is not falling as quickly as expected, but is concerned that hiking rates rapidly could hurt sentiment and threaten recovery.

Page 3: Insolvency practitioner Stuart Ariff has been banned for life as a liquidator and asked to pay clients $4.9 million in compensation for gross misconduct, including charging for hairdressing bills, taking his family on a $200,000 holiday and using clients' money to pay for his legal bills.

Page 4: Malcolm Turnbull will be forced to seek Coalition partyroom approval before signing a deal over the government's renewable energy target, after several backbenchers expressed concerns yesterday he was not driving a hard enough bargain.

Page 7: Bored patients whose GP is running late can relax: the local edition of that waiting-room staple Reader's Digest is safe, despite its US parent company filing for bankruptcy.

The board of Sunsuper has met to discuss a possible conflict of interest over a connection between its chairman, John Battams, and sacked lobbyist Ross Daley.

Business: Amcor, Australia's largest packager, has extended its global reach and is expected to turn around two years of declining profits with the $2.4 billion acquisition of the majority of Rio Tinto's Alcan packaging business.

Martin Ferguson's dash through Asia's gas markets has boosted his standing in the Australian resources sector, given the impetus it has helped to create for the next big thing in energy, Chevron's $50 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project.

Fortescue Metals Group's iron ore pricing deal with the China Iron & Steel Association could create more barriers to a 2009 settlement rather than helping to reach a uniform Chinese price, analysts say.

Santos has boosted its liquefied natural gas potential through the sale for up to $US370 million ($448.7m) of 60 per cent of three Timor Sea gas fields to France's GDF Suez for development through a floating LNG plant.

Origin Energy and its joint venture partner ConocoPhillips have rejoined the liquefied natural gas race -- which is intensifying in Queensland -- after securing a site to develop its plant.

Iron ore producer Grange Resources is tapping into renewed optimism from Chinese investors to raise $167 million to fund future expansions at its Australian operations.

News Corporation is to reorganise its Asian broadcast operations into three units and scale back its regional operations in Hong Kong.

Despite managing to avoid its first ever half-year loss and restarting some idled steel production, Onesteel has revealed it will slash its Australian workforce by an extra 1240 jobs as it strives to keep costs under control.

The National Australia Bank will use the purchase of the majority of Challenger's mortgage businesses to build its residential property book which has expanded at a slower rate than most of its major rivals.

Engineering and property services company United Group has shrugged off concerns about the global economy, declaring it is in "good shape" to maintain growth in earnings and revenue.

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ralph Norris is confident no heads will roll at the bank as a result of the corporate watchdog's investigation into the Merrill Lynch capital-raising debacle.

The publisher of Reader's Digest magazine is to file for bankruptcy protection, becoming the latest in a series of debt-laden media companies felled by the recession and changing consumer tastes.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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