Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly
Members login
  • TrustLaw
  • Members Portal
Subscribe Donate

PRESS DIGEST-Australian Business News - Feb. 28

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 27 Feb 2013 19:07 GMT
Author: Reuters
med-dev
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

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)

Ian Morrice, the incoming chief executive of grocery wholesaler Metcash, will re-evaluate the strategies employed by outgoing chief executive Andrew Reitzer to solidify the company's opportunities for growth. Mr Morrice will begin his role from June, although Mr Reitzer will continue to work with Metcash as a consultant for the next three years. Page 23.

--

The severance pay of Frank O'Halloran, the former chief executive of QBE Insurance, will not be reduced because he is the chairman of insurance broker Stedfast. Around 17 percent of Stedfast's operations are underwritten by QBE. Mr O'Halloran is expected to receive A${esc.dollar}2.34 million (${esc.dollar}2.39 million) plus incentives if the package, which was originally negotiated in 1999, is approved by shareholders. Page 23.

--

Richard Leupen, chief executive of facilities management contractor UGL, will reduce the company's staffing level by 700 positions in order to remain competitive. Mr Leupen said UGL was expanding offshore to create new growth opportunities, as the Australian resources sector could not be relied upon to underline profits. Page 23.

--

Nev Power, chief executive of Fortescue Metals Group , yesterday expected the iron ore miner's rising operating costs to be mitigated by an improved credit rating, a sale of infrastructure and a subsequent fall in the cost of debt. Mr Power revealed at the BMO Metals & Mining Conference in Florida that Fortescue was currently "spending around US${esc.dollar}900 million a year on interest". Page 25.

--

AGL Energy yesterday said that the company could be forced to book impairments on its A${esc.dollar}325 million coal seam gas assets in New South Wales if the state government's proposed tougher regulations to coal-seam gas were implemented. Managing director Michael Fraser added that A${esc.dollar}2 billion of future investment into its Hunter gas venture was at risk, along with proposed expansions at its Gloucester project. Page 25.

--

Challenger Limited expects Australians to continue saving despite a recent rally in equities, with chief executive Brian Benari saying no retiree would "suddenly forget" the instability from the last five years. Around A${esc.dollar}53 billion was transferred from superannuation to pension phase last year, according to Rice Warner Actuaries, a figure that is expected to rise to A${esc.dollar}135 billion by 2020. Page 25.

--

The Australian Securities Exchange yesterday told investors that trading hours would be extended by up to two hours, to 6pm, in the event of computer failure. The longer hours will be implemented from September and will apply to exchange trade options and shares, while trading hours for the futures market will remain unchanged. Page 26.

--

National Australia Bank is evaluating plans to consolidate its separate business divisions into a single unit to reduce costs and increase profits. The plan is reportedly one being considered by chairman Michael Chaney and chief executive Cameron Clyne ahead of the bank's strategic update next month. Page 27.

--

Robert Frost, head of investment at OC Funds Management, yesterday predicted the number of initial public offerings to rise over the coming year provided that the sharemarket remained optimistic. "We believe there is quite a backlog of quality assets which will potentially come to market in the second half," Mr Frost added. Page 27.

--

SFG Australia is expected to look for growth via acquisitions and fend off takeover interest, despite announcing on Monday that it had entered merger discussion with WHK Group. The listed financial advisers will report its interim results on today, and is expected to exceed analysts' earnings forecasts due stronger market conditions. Page 27.

--

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

Michael Fraser, chief executive of AGL Energy, yesterday accused major gas suppliers BHP Billiton, ExxonMobil and Santos of attempting to raise gas supply prices in advance. Mr Fraser added that the energy retailer was in legal battles over contracts totalling 80 percent of its gas supply. Page 17.

--

Mick McCormack, chief executive of APA Group, yesterday said the company had received interest in its Moomba to Adelaide Pipeline System from "a couple of dozen parties" but said the actual value of the sale was unimportant from an "accounting sense". "I want to get Moomba-Adelaide sold as soon as possible, so anyone reading your story, if you want to give me a pre-emptive offer, give me a call," Mr McCormack said. Page 17.

--

Richard Goyder, chief executive of Wesfarmers, has admitted that employees at supermarket giant Coles have been playing hardball with suppliers in order drive prices down. Mr Goyder has setup an internal inquiry and said he would co-operate fully with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's own investigation into market power. Page 17.

--

Andrew Reitzer, the departing chief executive of grocery wholesaler Metcash, yesterday criticised the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for failing to curb the market power of supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths during his time in the role. "For the 15 years I've been doing this job, the ACCC has done nothing to correct the imbalance of market power in this industry," added Mr Reitzer. Page 17.

--

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has warned that it will act against any attempt by banks to weaken credit standards over fears that banks are attempting to increase volume growth by easing on the quality of new business loans. Senior bankers last week told The Australian that terms and covenants in new deals, such as interest-cover ratios and repayment conditions, had been softened. Page 17.

--

Hancock Prospecting, the mining company owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart, is likely to challenge the West Australian Court of Appeal's decision to award its 25 percent holding in the Rhodes Ridge iron ore deposit to Wright Prospecting in the High Court. The two companies have been battling over the billion-dollar venture for more than 11 years, with both disagreeing over the details of a splitting of the assets in 1984 that was designed to prevent future disputes. Page 18.

--

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

Steven Lowy, joint chief executive of Westfield Group , told investors yesterday that the global shopping centre owner was negotiating up to a 5 percent reduction in rents for new shopping centre leases as a result of the weaker market environment. Mr Lowy blamed falling inflation, a downturn in the economy and rising household savings for the conditions, despite stagnating lease renewal rates. Page B1.

--

PMP reported a A${esc.dollar}24 million half-year loss yesterday, with the printing and distribution firm suffering A${esc.dollar}41 million of asset write-downs and restructuring costs over the period. Chief executive Peter George noted that revenue and printing volumes across all of PMP's divisions in Australia and New Zealand were down. Page B2.

--

Standards & Poor's yesterday announced that any substantial downgrade to Australia's AAA sovereign rating is "highly unlikely". The credit ratings agency's report into Australia's rating said the country's economy was on track to record steady growth, despite an expected drop in economic activity and a peaking in mining investment. Page B3.

--

THE AGE (www.theage.com.au)

Cyclone Rusty is expected to severely impact the mining operations of companies in Western Australia's Pilbara, with A${esc.dollar}500 million of iron ore exports already halted due to the category three cyclone. Rio Tinto announced that it had shut down its Port Walcott port at Cape Lambert, while Port Hedland shut down on Monday. Page B5.

--

(${esc.dollar}1 = 0.9797 Australian dollars)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs