Press digest australian business news march 27

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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)Copper and gold miner OZ Minerals will announce today the outcome of its bid for the state-owned Romanian company SC Cuprumin SA Abrud that controls the Rosia Poieni mine. OZ chief executive Terry Burgess has about A$1 billion cash available with A$750 million allocated for acquisitions. In a statement delivered yesterday to the Australian Securities Exchange, OZ stated that months of due diligence preceded its entry into the auction. Page 21.-- Hamish Tyrwhitt, the new chief executive of Leighton Holdings, has made another change to the senior management team of the company with the appointment of Ian Edwards to take control of the companies Asian and offshore businesses section. Other recent additions include Dharma Chandran from Ernst & Young and Mike Rollo, who returns to Leighton from WatermanBurns. Page 22.-- Ian Smith, the new chief executive of explosives, mining and building products conglomeration Orica, has appointed Gavin Jackman to head its newly created global corporate affairs and social responsibility portfolio. The new portfolio demonstrated "an increased focus on working more closely with the communities in which we operate" the company stated yesterday. Page 23.-- Rabobank Australia & New Zealand chief executive Thos Gieskes warned yesterday that protectionism against investment from overseas would damage Australian agribusiness. "With more people that need more food, we need to improve efficiencies," the head of the second-largest rural lender in Australia said. "If you take the protectionist road, you're actually decreasing efficiencies," he added. Page 24.-- THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)The Bank of Queensland has "lost its way" in its efforts to compete with the big four banks, admitted chief executive Stuart Grimshaw yesterday. Due to a significant rise in the level of "non-performing" commercial and residential property loans the bank is currently in a trading halt, due to conclude tomorrow, as it seeks to raise A$450 million to keep its balance sheet healthy. Page 21.--

The resources industry in Queensland is seeking to meet with the incoming Liberal National Party (LNP) state government of Campbell Newman to clarify the stance of the new government on issues including a complete ban on mining in certain areas to safeguard strategic farm land. "We look forward to fresh eyes on the regulatory side and working with the LNP to create an efficient and effective regime," said Rick Wilkinson of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association. Page 21.-- "This is very clearly a huge opportunity for the Qantas Group and we are taking it," Qantas Airways chief executive Alan Joyce said in response to criticisms of the Jetstar Hong Kong joint venture with China Eastern Airlines announced yesterday aimed at the Chinese air travel market. The current 300 million people in China with income sufficient to allow travel by air would grow to 700 million by 2020, Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan added. Page 21.-- Origin Energy announced yesterday that is may sell more of its equity in the Australia Pacific Liquefied Natural Gas project to fund the second processing train in the US$20 billion joint venture with Sinopec cof China and ConocoPhillips, the United States energy leviathan. Recently Origin reduced its equity from 42 percent to 37.5 percent as Sinopec increased its stake. Page 22.-- THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)

In a move one analyst has labelled "the last throw of the dice", integrated hardwood forest products company Gunns Ltd may progress from its failed attempt to raise A$280 million to a capital raising of A$400 million. Share trading for Gunns is currently suspended and the company said yesterday that an update on its plans would be issued on April 2. Page B3.-- In the Federal Court, 13 councils are suing Local Government Financial Services Pty Ltd (LGFS) for negligence and misleading or deceptive conduct after purchasing from LGFS constant proportional debt obligations that had been given an AAA rating by Standard & Poor's. The fiduciary duty claim from the councils could not succeed, said Guy Parker, SC, acting for LGFS, as "there just was no relationship of trust and confidence in the relevant sense." Page B4.-- Research by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority correlating the size of superannuation funds with performance has revealed that in the not-for-profit sector larger funds perform better than smaller. However, in the retail superannuation fund sector there was no similar correlation as the larger retail funds experienced "lower and more volatile" returns than the smaller funds. Page B5.--

A report released yesterday by international ratings agency Fitch Ratings concluded that the costs of the carbon tax would be passed on to consumers by the power companies with little difficulty, with household bills likely to increase by about 10 percent. The report also found that the burden of debt refinancing had eased as the A$12 billion required for refinancing last year had dropped to A$5 billion this year. Page B6.-- THE AGE (this site)Integrated almond producer, marketer and exporter Select Harvests announced yesterday that its non-core brands Soland, Nu-Vit and Sunsol would be sold to allow the company to focus on its nut brand Lucky. "If we're able to sell we'll be able to consolidate our food business on to the one site and that'll make a big difference to us, chief executive Michael Iwaniw said. Page B3.-- Joint venture partners Aquila Resources and Vale, the Brazilian mining colossus, have halted their legal stoush over their Isaac Plains Coal Mine project to enable sales and shipments of coal to restart. Legal tussles between the two companies over two other Queensland coal projects continue. Page B3.-- The government-owned Export Finance and Insurance Corporation was criticised heavily last month by the Productivity Commission (PC) for supporting multi-billion dollar projects in preference to assisting small and medium companies involved in export. Santos responded that implementing the PC recommendations would create "significant constraints" over the funding of its projects in the future and WorleyParsons chief executive John Grill said his company would be at a "competitive disadvantage." Page B5.-- In the Victorian Supreme Court, Australian Country Spinners, makers of Patons yarn, have alleged that Rob Milne, who was sacked as chief executive earlier this year, paid his wife, Phrynee, excessively for low-standard graphic design work and are requesting over A$345,000 to cover the disbursements to Mrs Milne. The company is also claiming recompense of about A$450,000 from Mr Milne relating to wages. Page B5.

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