press digest-australian business news - jan 20

  1. 4,756 Posts.
    PRESS DIGEST-Australian Business News - Jan 20
    06:53, Thursday, 20 January 2005

    (Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors)

    THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (www.afr.com)

    CSL shareholders could be rewarded with nearly A$500
    million in higher dividend payments this year following the
    company's sale of its cell culture arm, JRH Biosciences, and its
    announcement that it does not intend to acquire any new blood
    plasma companies. CSL said regulatory issues and a scarcity of
    fairly priced blood plasma assets made it unlikely CSL would make
    any new acquisitions. Page 10.

    --

    Southcorp's rejection of a takeover bid by Foster's
    Group is believed to have been prompted by a
    faster-than-expected recovery in its operations, with the
    winemaker considering bringing forward the release of its
    first-half results. Southcorp is set to meet its largest
    shareholder, Maple-Brown Abbott, within the next 24 hours to plan
    the company's defence. Page 10.

    --

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it
    was scrutinising links between San Miguel Corp. and The
    Coca-Cola Co. as part of its assessment of San Miguel's
    A$1.78 billion bid for National Foods . Rival bidder,
    Fonterra, has promised to sell off the Brownes milk business in
    Western Australia to overcome ACCC concerns. Page 10.

    --

    Investment banks say they are confident the Australian Stock
    Exchange's promise to increase scrutiny of book-builds
    will not adversely affect the Federal Government's plans for the
    full privatisation of Telstra . Bankers around Australia
    said even the introduction of book-build guidelines would not
    hinder the A$31 billion sale. Page 11.

    --

    Woodside Petroleum has fallen short of the full-year
    production target it set three months ago, but strong oil prices
    and the start of the North-West Shelf's fourth liquefied natural
    gas train helped underpin a 4.8 per cent rise in the energy
    company's annual sales to A$2.16 billion. Woodside said
    operational issues, natural field decline and the shutdown of BHP
    Billiton's Boodarie iron plant had dragged its
    production down below its target. Page 11.

    --

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

    The Australian Stock Exchange's plans to reform the
    auction system by which brokers sell shares in a float to their
    clients has met with opposition from within the investment
    community, with many firms arguing the market should be left
    alone. The reform move, which follows Goldman Sachs JB Were's
    offering of share rebates of up to A15 cents to selected clients
    in the Just Group float, has raised the prospect of tighter
    guidelines and disclosure requirements for book-builds. Page 15.

    --

    British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, has announced
    plans to set up another Australian-based airline to fly across
    the Pacific if plans by Virgin Blue to fly the route do
    not proceed. Sir Richard said he was very interested in flying
    the route and was prepared to set up a 51 percent-owned
    Australian company with separate institutional shareholders if
    'the board of Virgin Blue decides to keep it to short haul
    flying'. Page 15.

    --

    The Federal Government yesterday granted concessions to
    employers ahead of the introduction of the superannuation choice
    regime on July 1. Under the legislation, from July 40 percent of
    employees will be able to select a superannuation fund to take
    their 9 percent compulsory employer contribution. The changes
    mean employers will not be required to make contributions to a
    fund chosen by an employee if the fund requires contributions to
    be made more regularly than required by law and obliges them to
    sign up as 'participating employers.' Page 16.

    --

    Shares of takeover target, WMC Resources , yesterday
    fell below its independent expert's valuation in a shift that is
    likely to encourage Xstrata to extend its offer for the
    miner. Xstrata chief executive, Mick Davis, is expected to
    extend the A$7.4 billion cash offer today, but not to raise the
    bid while waiting for any further weakness in WMC shares. The
    Swiss-based miner is also in talks with the Foreign Investment
    Review Board in a bid to win clearance for its offer. Page 17.

    --

    Rio Tinto's shares hit a record high of A$41.92
    yesterday after releasing strong fourth-quarter production
    figures. Rio reported record quarterly iron ore production at
    its Hammersley operation in Western Australia as it builds up
    output to capitalise on tight markets. Rio said demand for iron
    ore remained strong 'with all markets showing continued strength,
    particularly China.' Rio also stated that commissioning of the
    new Comalco alumina refinery in Queensland was going well and the
    first shipments were expected in November, three months ahead of
    schedule. Page 17.

    --

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

    Virgin Blue's shares fell yesterday to a new low of
    A$1.60 following a profit warning as the discount airline cut its
    forecast for the number of passengers it was hoping to carry this
    financial year. Virgin said earnings in the year to March 31 are
    expected to fall as much as 15 percent to A$134.7 million
    compared with A$158.5 million last year due to problems filling
    its expanded fleet of aircraft. Page 25.

    --

    Sydney Airport is on the way towards earning A$500
    million in the current financial year, posting a gross profit of
    A$243.8 million in the first half, up from the A$206.2 million
    recorded in the previous corresponding period. Page 25.

    --

    Alstom is days away from announcing its preferred
    bidder for its Australian and New Zealand transport business,
    which is expected to fetch up to A$400 million. It is understood
    the French company is in talks with three remaining bidders and
    analysts are tipping industrial services companies, Transfield
    , Downer EDI , and United Group. Page 25.

    --

    Singapore Airlines chief executive, Chew Choon
    Seng, used Tuesday's launch of the new Airbus A380 super-jumbo to
    launch his most vocal criticism to date on the duopoly held by
    Qantas and United Airlines on the Sydney to
    Los Angeles route. Chew said Singapore Airlines had been asked to
    wait until 'the return of stability to the industry post 9/11,
    post Bali attacks and so on,' and now believed the Australian
    Government should reopen "open skies" talks. Page 26.

    --

    THE AGE (www.theage.com.au)

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
    yesterday announced that it would not oppose Coca-Cola Amatil's
    buy-out of Quirks Refrigeration. ACCC chairman, Graeme
    Samuel, said the regulator had 'formed the view that the
    acquisition was unlikely to substantially lessen competition.'
    Samuel said the purchase of the refrigeration provider was
    unlikely to increase 'refrigeration space actually controlled by
    CCA'. Page B12.

    --

    The Australian economy is expected to grow at a solid rate in
    2005, with resource companies boosting production and the
    Australian dollar falling to a more competitive level. The
    Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index of economic activity
    rose to 5.8 per cent in November, from 4.9 per cent in October,
    and above the long-term trend of four per cent. Page B12.

    --

    Warehouse Group yesterday said disappointing trading
    in its New Zealand division could cut as much as 10 per cent from
    its interim profits. The New Zealand-based discount retailer
    said it now expected net profit for the six months to January 30
    to be between NZ$50 million and NZ$54 million, three per cent to
    10 per cent lower than a year earlier. Page B12.

    --

    Looking for more information from local sources? Factiva.com
    has 112 Australian sources including the Australian Financial
    Review.

    ((Reuters Sydney Newsroom, 61-2 9373 1800,
    [email protected]))

    (c) Reuters Limited 2005
    REUTER NEWS SERVICE
 
arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch. arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch.