Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters
has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their
THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (www.afr.com)
--Queensland coalminers were yesterday preparing for the
impact of tropical cyclone Yasi, with companies closing down
parts of their operations, including Rio Tinto's
Hail Creek Mine and Xstrata's Collinsville mine. Rail
group QR National has closed its Newlands and Goonyella
rail networks, while ports along the north coast of the state
have also been closed. Page 47.
--Supermarket group Coles this week reported
quarterly sales growth above that of rival Woolworths
for the sixth consecutive period. However, analysts yesterday
warned that the growth gap between the two retailers may have
peaked, with Coles expected to find further sales growth harder
to achieve. Richard Goyder, managing director of Coles-owner
Wesfarmers, said "there is still a fair way to go in Coles."
--The Takeovers Panel yesterday ruled that there was
insufficient evidence to support claims by iron ore company
Brockman Resources that a takeover bid from Hong Kong's
Wah Nam International had breached takeover rules.
Brockman had claimed that Wah Nam used associated parties to
increase its stake in Brockman. In November, Brockman rejected
Wah Nam's A$1.9 billion all-scrip takeover offer due to concerns
about the underlying value of Wah Nam shares and the group's
inexperience in resources. Page 48.
--Maryborough Sugar Factory was yesterday preparing
four of its Queensland sugar mills for the impact of tropical
cyclone Yasi, which is expected to cross the coast early
tomorrow morning. Chief executive Mike Barry said the company
had also evacuated around 300 staff from the area. The cyclone
is forecast to hit regions in the north of the state responsible
for around a third of Australia's sugar production. Page 48.
THE AUSTRALIAN (www.theaustralian.news.com.au)
--Indian group GVK Power & Infrastructure was
yesterday reported to have bid almost A$2 billion for a
controlling stake in the Kevin's Corner coal project being
auctioned by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal. Ms Rinehart is
auctioning the Queensland asset as she attempts to raise the
A$7.5 billion required to develop the nearby Alpha coal project,
which is expected to produce 30 million tonnes of coal a year.
--Clive Palmer's Resourcehouse company could list on Hong
Kong's stock exchange as early as this month. The A$3 billion
float had been planned for early last year, but was postponed
due to concerns that media coverage of the proposal had broken
local rules regarding promotion of initial public offerings.
The company has released a report on its plans to produce
thermal coal in Queensland and magnetite iron ore in Western
Australia by 2014. Page 35.
--Oil and gas group Santos has again extended a
payment deadline on the A$100 million sale of its Evans Shoal
gasfield in the Timor Sea. Magellan Petroleum is understood to
now have until the end of May to provide payment. Magellan is
20 percent owned by Russian businessman Nikolay Bogachev, whose
Young Energy Prize company is to receive an increased stake in
Magellan in return for providing the funds required for
payment. Page 36.
--Perth businessman Ian Trahar yesterday launched a takeover
bid for window blind manufacturer Kresta Holdings . Mr
Trahar, who owns around 20 percent of the company, has resigned
as chairman, but remains a director. Hunter Hall Investment
Management, which also controls around 20 percent of Kresta, is
seeking to remove Mr Trahar from the board at a shareholder
meeting on February 14, and yesterday said "we believe this
low-ball bid is just the latest example of the conduct of Mr
Trahar since he joined the Kresta board." Page 37.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (www.smh.com.au)
--The insurance industry has warned that Australia's risk
rating among global reinsurance firms is set to rise if tropical
cyclone Yasi causes widespread damage in Queensland. The
industry is still determining the cost of the state's floods
last month, with the damages bill now above A$1.5 billion. The
industry has had to make a number of significant payouts on
natural disasters in recent years, with the latest events likely
to place further upward pressure on premiums. Page B1.
--Westpac Banking Corporation has fallen three
spots to number 18 on the latest Global 100 List of the world's
most sustainable companies. However, the bank remains
Australia's top-ranked company on the list. Other Australian
companies to feature included Origin Energy at number
19, Insurance Australia Group at 42, Stockland
at 55, Sims Metal at 63 and GPT at 95. Page B2.
--Poor production from Energy Resources of Australia's
(ERA) Ranger uranium mine has prompted a surge in the
spot price of the radioactive material, according to Ux
Consulting. Ux says the spot price of uranium climbed US$10.50
a pound last month to US$73 a pound. The increase has helped
halt ERA's share price slide, which has seen the company lose
A$2.5 billion in market value over the past 13 months. Page B3.
--Airline Virgin Blue has agreed to a "mutual
capacity commitment agreement" with United States (US) carrier
Delta Air Lines , in a bid to dispel US concerns about
the two airlines' proposed alliance. US authorities rejected
the planned alliance in September, stating that the airlines had
failed to demonstrate that the alliance would benefit
travellers. The Australian competition regulator approved the
proposed deal in December 2009. Page B3.
THE AGE (www.theage.com.au)
--Foster's Group yesterday announced it would no
longer contribute financially to Wine Australia in Britain,
saying the marketing body had failed to "promote and represent
our total portfolio of Australian brands." Wine Australia's
"A+" strategy in Britain focuses on "genuine Australian brands"
in a bid to raise the prices consumers are prepared to pay for
Australian wines. However, Foster's generates significant
revenue through the sale of cheaper wines that are not included
in the marketing initiative. Page B3.
--The share price of forestry products group Gunns
yesterday plunged 19 percent in an hour and a half before
partially recovering. However, the fall occurred on low
volumes, and a spokesperson for the company said it had not
received a price query from the Australian Securities Exchange.
Gunns is continuing to seek financing for its key A$2.2 billion
pulp mill project in Tasmania, with state's new Premier, Lara
Giddings, confirming continued government support for the
project. Page B3.
--Shares in Kidman Resources yesterday rose 92
percent to A37.5 cents a share after the company released early
but positive exploration results from its Blind Calf copper
prospect in New South Wales. The company, which listed on the
exchange just two weeks ago, stressed that the results were
preliminary, with a more extensive exploratory drilling program
to start next month. Page B7.
--Coal gasification proponent Cougar Energy
yesterday said it is considering taking legal action against the
Queensland government over its decision to shut down the
company's pilot project at Kingaroy. The Government shut down
the project last July after detecting chemicals in a nearby
water bore, and last week ordered that the project be
decommissioned. Cougar claimed an independent report used to
justify the move contained "a number of factual inaccuracies."