PRESS DIGEST-Australian Business News – Oct 20

Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not
verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


–Chinese state-controlled metals and mineral trading
corporation China Minmetals last year bought an assortment of
assets from OZ Minerals (OZL.AX: ) for US$1.35 billion. China
Minmetals is now planning to vend the assets to its subsidiary
Minmetals Resources for US$1.84 billion. A spokesman from MMG
said independent expert Grant Samuels had valued the assets and
the new values were a reflection of the commodity market
improvements this year. Page 18.

–Global premium beverages company Foster’s (FGL.AX: )
tomorrow will reveal its new Queensland brand, the Great
Northern Brewing Company. In Queensland, competitor Lion
Nathan is dominant with its XXXX Gold and Foster’s has a lower
market share than elsewhere in Australia. Foster’s also has a
new 4.2 percent beer with citrus, spices and lemon juice –
Carlton Dry Fusion Black – that Carlton & United Breweries
managing director John Pollaers will introduce at Foster’s
investor day on Thursday. Page 18.

–Global mineral resources company Rio Tinto’s
(RIO.AX: )(RIO.L: ) joint venture partner in Mongolian copper
Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines (IVN.TO: ) is planning to
raise US$800 million to US$1 billion. Rio will able to maintain
its 34.9 percent stake by paying that fraction of the funding.
Rio has informed Ivanhoe that the raising breaches contractual
rights created in an investment agreement made in 2006. Page

–Dividend payments to investors in wagering and gaming
company Tabcorp (TAH.AX: ) have dropped by over 70 percent since
the global financial crisis. If Tabcorp’s proposed demerger
proceeds, analysts predict there will be a further drop in
dividends. Stuart Jackson of JPMorgan said a “further dividend
cut could have an adverse affect on the retail shareholder base
of Tabcorp.” Page 19.


–Global resources company Rio Tinto’s board has been
deliberating over plans for a major expansion of operations in
the Pilbara region, which it may announce as early as today,
analysts say. This follows the recent decision to end the
US$116 billion joint Pilbara region venture with BHP Billiton
(BLT.L: )(BHP.AX: ). Already this year Rio has committed to
expansions of its West Australian iron ore operations from 220
million tonnes to 230 million tonnes by 2012 and the extra
developments could take this to 330 million tonnes in 2015.
Page 31.

–Investment management company Perpetual’s Wholesale
Australian Share Fund (PPT.AX: ) has outperformed the S&P/ASX 200
Accumulation Index since John Sevior’s appointment as head in
2002. Standard & Poor’s research shows that only 35 percent of
active Australian equity funds have matched or beaten the index
over the last five years. Analysts believe that Kohlberg
Kravis Roberts (KKR.N: ) is adamant Mr Sevior be part of their
proposed takeover. Page 32.

–In Western Australia, junior iron ore companies expect
that their opportunity to gain access to the infrastructure of
resource giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto has disintegrated
following the cancellation of the huge BHP and Rio Pilbara
region joint venture. Mike Young, managing director of BC
Iron, said that without the joint venture there was no leverage
for regulators to make the major companies open up their
railways. Page 32.

–Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) (ANZ.AX: )
chief executive Mike Smith yesterday said that Australian
political leaders needed to commit to “bold economic reform and
productivity improvements” to sustain the growth rates
currently being experienced in Australia. Next week Mr Smith
will accompany Treasurer Wayne Swan to Korea, where ANZ is in
due diligence over acquisition of Korea Exchange Bank. Page


–Deutsche Bank’s Kieren Chidgey said the private equity
company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ offer for fund manager
Perpetual of between A$38 and A$40 a share gave a 24 percent
premium over the historic price to earnings ratio of Perpetual
of 18. Mike Smith, chief executive of Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group, yesterday made comments that indicated
the bank would not make a competing bid for Perpetual. Page 3.

–Law firm Slater & Gordon is preparing a class action
against farm chemicals group Nufarm (NUF.AX: ) following Nufarm’s
announcement on September 1 of a massive increase in net debt
as at July 31 over its forecast presented on July 14. Slater &
Gordon have invited shareholders who purchased shares between
March 2 and September 1 to join the action. Law firm Maurice
Blackburn is also preparing for legal action against Nufarm.
Page 3.

–Investors in wagering and gaming company Tabcorp are
being asked to make substantial further investment decisions
before the Victorian government has determined if the Tabcorp
licenses for wagering and Keno will be renewed. Elections for
the Victorian state government will be held on November 27 and
no government decisions will be made until the new government
is in office. Page 3.

–Canadian fund manager Brookfield (BIP.N: ) has increased
its offer for specialist infrastructure operator Prime
Infrastructure to A$1.1 billion and has reported that a number
of the largest Prime shareholders have signified acceptance of
the offer. Shareholders will vote on November 4 and the
independent directors of Prime said they would recommend
acceptance of the offer. Cameron McDonald, an analyst with
Deutsche Bank, said the offer “should get over the line.” Page


–Statements made by Federal Minister for Resources Martin
Ferguson that tax credits would not be given to mining
companies for unscheduled increases in state royalties have
been ii-received by the industry, analysts say. Resources
giants BHP Billiton and Xstrata (XTA.L: ) believe the federal
government may be reneging on a key component of the mining tax
deal put in place shortly after Prime Minister Julia Gillard
came to office. Page B1.

–Following the purchase by copper and gold miner OZ
Minerals of a 19.7 percent stake in emerging Australian mining
company Sandfire Resources there has been speculation that
cashed-up OZ would mount a takeover. Terry Burgess, OZ chief
executive, said yesterday at a media briefing that “extending
the life of Prominent Hill would do more for our company than
anything else … including investments in other companies.” Page

–A report from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has
labelled the current US$130 a share offer for Canadian
fertilizer company Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: )
from resources giant BHP Billiton as insufficient. However, at
US$150 a share PotashCorp shareholders would probably accept,
it said. On Monday, PotashCorp shares fell to US$143.21. Page

–Construction and mining contractor Macmahon Holdings
(MAH.AX: ) yesterday said it expected an after-tax profit “in
excess of A$20 million” for the 2011 income year – well short
of the A$40 million earlier forecast. The profit downgrading
is the result of cost blowouts on it’s A$500 million rail
contract for mining giant BHP Billiton in Western Australia’s
Pilbara region. Page 3. —

PRESS DIGEST-Australian Business News – Oct 20