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PRESS DIGEST-Australian Business News - Dec 14

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 13 Dec 2012 20:20 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (www.afr.com)

American food and commodities trader Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) yesterday had its A${esc.dollar}2.8 billion offer for Australian grain producer GrainCorp rejected by the executive board of the latter for the second time. "GrainCorp has won the first round by getting ADM to raise the bid without actually doing anything," said a shareholder in the agricultural commodities producer. Page 15. -- Stuart Grimshaw, chief executive of Bank of Queensland, yesterday said there were early signs of recovery in the property sector in many regions of the state of Queensland. "We've seen signs that it's bottomed and there have been a few good sales on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and even Cairns," Mr Grimshaw said after the bank's general annual meeting in Brisbane. Page 15. -- John Mullen, chief executive of stevedoring company Asciano , yesterday said predicting the movements of the resources sector was difficult due to unpredictable fluctuations on world markets over the last 12 months. "It's such a pendulum from doom to gloom  Even the customers don't totally know or understand what's going on - that makes planning capacity difficult," he said. Page 16. -- Profit margins for miner Iluka Resources are expected to fall next year since an increase in demand for mineral sands is not expected to peak until the middle of next year, industry analysts noted yesterday. "Volumes will be weak in the first half of 2013 before a bottom may be found  inventories remain elevated and long-term demand destruction is real at circa 10 percent for titanium feedstocks and circa 20 percent in zircon," said analyst Chris Terry from investment house Deutsche Bank. Page 17. --

THE AUSTRALIAN (www.theaustralian.news.com.au)

Mark McInnes, chief executive of Premier Investments , yesterday said the company was preparing for a number of new retail acquisitions through a sustained personnel hiring policy. "In July 2011, when we did the strategic review, I had two fundamental objectives - to increase the earnings performance and to rebuild the management platform to be able to grow through acquisition," Mr McInnes said. Page 19. -- Current National Australia Bank chairman Michael Chaney yesterday said, at the bank's annual general meeting in Perth, his current term would be his final one as the head of the organisation. "We have this general understanding that 10 years (on the board) is a good time. Normally people wouldn't stand for re-election the next time they come up if they've done 10 years  I expect it will be my last term," Mr Chaney added. Page 19. -- Greg Bridgeford, chief customer officer of United States hardware operator Lowe's, yesterday confirmed the company's commitment to local supermarket giant Woolworths and its Masters brand of home improvement stores. "Our stores are performing well and the Masters organisation is top notch. We look forward to a long and strong future together with Woolworths as we redefine home improvement for Australians across the country," Mr Bridgeford wrote. Page 19. -- Gail Kelly, chief executive of Westpac Banking Corp, yesterday urged the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to reduce official interest rates early in 2013 in order to boost the Australian economy. "They're (RBA) fully appreciative of the funding dynamic with which we are dealing and they're adjusting downwards and assess on the basis of what we do and they may well, in my view, make a further adjustment in the new year," Mrs Kelly said. Page 19. --

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THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (www.smh.com.au)

Global miner BHP Billiton and oil producer ExxonMobil yesterday announced they will spend A${esc.dollar}992 million constructing a "conditioning plant" next to their Longford gas facility in Victoria, which will filter excess carbon dioxide generated by three new gas operations in the Bass Strait. "The new ${esc.dollar}1 billion facility at Longford will create around 250 direct construction jobs and countless more indirect jobs," said Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan. Page B1. -- Shares in Australian publisher Fairfax Media yesterday appreciated around 11 percent to climb to A54 cents, on the back of increased earning forecasts for the company's Domain classified real estate business, industry analysts noted. "There does seem to be a solid improvement in sentiment towards companies like Fairfax," said analyst Simon Mawhinney at fund manager Allan Gray. Page B3. -- The Australian Communications and Media Authority regulatory body yesterday published a blueprint for international mobile roaming standards, observers noted. The industry watchdog's plan focuses on telecommunications operators who do not advise customers of high international roaming rates when they use their devices or phones while abroad. Page B3. -- Federal Treasury boss Martin Parkinson yesterday said he believed China would take over from the United States as the world's largest economy in the next 10 years with Australia well positioned to manage any negative side-effects from a potential Chinese economic downturn. "We have a proven record of coping with slowing growth in key export markets such as Japan and other external shocks such as the Asian financial crisis and global financial crisis," Dr Parkinson said. Page B4.

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THE AGE (www.theage.com.au) Around 21 percent of National Australia Bank shareholders yesterday voted against its remuneration report frustrated at the bank's underperformance over the last 12 months, industry observers noted. "Let me assure you, the board feels the same disappointment that the shareholders feel in respect of returns  all I can say is that we are really endeavouring to ensure that our returns are better as we go forward," said the bank's chairman Michael Chaney. Page B1. -- Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens yesterday said world central banks needed to liaise with each other more closely to avoid negatively affecting economies by balance sheet expansions such as the latest round of quantitative easing measures announced by United States chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. Mr Stevens stated banks had to "continue to talk frankly with each other about how we perceive the interconnections of global finance to be operating". Page B1. -- Brett Chenoweth, chief executive of media company APN News & Media, yesterday said its publishing arm was affected by a big slump in newspaper advertising markets. "We are proactively managing the levers within our control, including cash management, product innovation, sales transformation and cost reduction  while these initiatives will deliver a substantial contribution, the weak advertising markets have had a negative impact on APN's publishing results in Australia and New Zealand," Mr Chenoweth said. Page B3. -- Virgin Australia yesterday criticised the slowness of the Queensland State Government in deregulating regional and subsidised local air routes. "Competition brought about by deregulating markets will no doubt bring lower fares and deliver better access to regional communities, reduce costs to business and boost tourism," said the airline's chief of corporate affairs Danielle Keighery. Page B4.

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