Press digest australian business news april 19

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MELBOURNE Apr 19 Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (this site)-- Genworth Financial, the largest mortgage insurer in Australia, yesterday postponed its A$800 million partial float after it announced worse than expected losses from the housing sector. Observers say the withdrawal of the initial public offering could weaken confidence in the equity capital market, while also damaging Macquarie Capital, UBS, Goldman Sachs and CommSec, the joint lead managers of Genworth's float. Page 23.-- Wine entrepreneurs Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier, along with their business partner Leigh Morgan, have sold a 40 percent stake in their vinomofo online wine retailer to the Catchoftheday daily deals website. "Catchoftheday are certainly bringing to the party an awful lot of customers - we have to endear ourselves to them. They've got to like wine and they have to like the wines we like and at the prices we bring to them," Mr Eikmeier said. Page 23.-- Malcolm Turnbull, spokesman on communications for the Federal Opposition, yesterday claimed that the Coalition's broadband policy was "manifestly" in the interests of Telstra investors and could also accelerate payments that the telecommunications giant is due to receive from the Federal Government's national broadband network. "If we took the approach I'm describing, because the rollout would occur more quickly the migration payments would be paid to Telstra sooner," Mr Turnbull said. Page 25.-- Elders is set to receive A$80 million following the sale of its forestry portfolio and a legal victory against the Australian Taxation Office. Malcolm Jackman, managing director of the automotive and rural services group, said the windfall would allow the company to adopt "a more generous approach" to debt repayments. "It will be a game changer in our relationship with our financiers," Mr Jackman added. Page 27. THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)

-- Global miner BHP Billiton yesterday published its production report for the third quarter, revealing a 14 percent fall in coking coal production due to industrial action at seven of its joint-venture mines in Queensland and heavy rain in the state. "With inventories now severely depleted, the impact on future quarters may be significant," the miner said. Diversified financial firm Citigroup downgraded its profit projections for BHP after the report's release, despite higher than expected production for petroleum and iron ore. Page 19.-- Grant Samuel Corporate Finance, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Ricoh are among 15 clients and corporations that will be asked to repay A$80 million in preferential payments from the collapse of Octaviar. Liquidators of the finance group yesterday lodged a claim on behalf of the company's creditors in the New South Wales Supreme Court. If the claim succeeds, the defendants will be forced to return the money into the creditors pool and would then be paid significantly less than the amount they have already received. Page 19.-- The amount of Australian government debt held by investors from Asia has climbed to at least 12.9 percent from 5.8 percent over the last couple of years, with the Australian Office of Financial Management calculating that Asian investors are now the most active purchasers of Australian bonds. Observers say Australia's higher interest rates, triple-A sovereign credit rating and comparatively strong economic fundamentals helped attract Asian investment into local debt. Page 19.-- Shareholders in iron ore explorer Murchison Metals will receive cash after the company opted to return the proceeds from the A$325 million sale of its infrastructure and iron ore joint ventures to investors. "The board has determined that none of the opportunities that have been considered to date represents a compelling opportunity with the potential to enhance shareholder value within an acceptable time horizon," managing director Greg Martin stated in a quarterly report. Page 20.

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)-- Around 460 Australians will be attending the Olympic Games in London this year to cover the event for media outlets such as Macquarie Radio, Nine Network and Foxtel, meaning that there will be 60 more journalists at the Olympics than Australian athletes. Foxtel will broadcast around 1100 hours of the event will live out of a total of 3200 hours on its pay television network. Page B1.-- The former head of Standard Chartered's operations in China, Mike Pratt, yesterday said that it was probable over the next few years that a Chinese bank would seek to acquire a cornerstone holding in a major Australian lender. Mr Pratt added that Australia and New Zealand Banking Group should adopt a longer-time view on Asia and not attempt to produce an earnings boost from the region quickly. Page B1.

-- Andrew Forrest, chairman of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group, yesterday accused Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan of attempting to "fool" Australians over a late compromise on the mining tax between former prime minister Kevin Rudd and himself. Mr Swan responded to Mr Forrest's claims that Mr Rudd had approved changes to the resource super profits tax legislation days before his ousting by likening them to mining magnate Clive Palmer's suggestion that the Australian Greens was funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. Page B3.-- Leucadia National has announced that it expects to win a lawsuit against Fortescue Metals Group. The two companies have been locked in a dispute since 2006 when Leucadia, a former cornerstone investor in the iron ore producer, sued Fortescue after it attempted to replicate a royalty note issued in 2006. Leucadia is trying to prevent the Australian miner from issuing further notes, which provide a 4 percent return on profits at certain projects. Page B3. THE AGE (this site)-- The Federal Court yesterday heard that a junior staff member at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was responsible for the accounting firm's flawed audit of property group Centro's accounts in 2007. Stephen Cougle, the PwC partner who oversaw the audit, testified under cross-examination that he did not believe he made any mistakes. Shareholders have launched a class action against PwC and Centro after the property group announced in late 2007 that it misclassified billions of dollars in short-term debt. Page B3.-- Global online retailer Amazon.com has revived an Australian offshoot of its business, with last year's recruitment of 12 marketing staff and two vice-presidents from America to the local board. Amazon, whose local arm is called Amazon Corporate Services, has been reportedly looking for warehouse space in Australia. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated the local online book retailing sector's value at A$280 million in 2010. Page B3.-- A report from property group AMP Capital Shopping Centres has concluded that nearly one third of the largest retailers in the world have a base in Australia, with more set to enter the market. Michael Bergdahl, author of the report, said customers were now "omni-channel" shoppers who browsed outlets while checking offers from competitors on phones or other smart devices. Page B3.-- Shares in gold junior Perseus Mining jumped 4.9 percent to close at A$2.35 yesterday after the company unveiled record production figures from its venture in Ghana. Perseus's output was 38,796 ounces for the first quarter of the year at A$700.48 per ounce, with the company generating up to A$1000 an ounce in profit according to yesterday's gold price of around US$1653 an ounce. Page B4.