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Australian Financial Review
– Environment minister Greg Hunt approved what would be Australia's largest coalmine, Adani's $16.5bn Carmichael coal and rail project. The Indian company hasn't made a final decision on the project in central Queensland which it claims would create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.
– Healthscope shares rose 5% on their first day of trading, valuing the private hospital, medical centre and pathology operator at $3.6bn.
– A report by McKinsey & Company, commissioned by the Business Council of Australia, suggests that Australia should overlook competition concerns and create national champions like New Zealand's Fonterra.
– Leighton Holdings dropped out of the bidding race for Melbourne's $8bn East West Link road tunnel last month because the project was too risky, chief executive Mareclino Fernandez Verses said. The geotechnical risks were 'not acceptable' given its experience in tunnelling. Leighton lost more than $1bn on a fixed-price contract to build the Brisbane Airport Link tunnel.
– SurfStitch will take about a dozen fund managers to its Gold Coast head office as it seeks to progress plans to buy back major shareholder Billabong International and pursue a $300m stock exchange listing. Similar online retailers including OzSale and iBuy have listed for three to four times revenue.
– GWA Group, which sells household fixtures and fitting such as taps, kitchen sinks, doors and toilets, flagged a 2% rise in revenue and 11% rise in pre-tax profit to $577m and $44m respectively. The poor revenue is despite sustained strong building approvals and housing finance data, pointing to a robust housing construction recovery after years of under-building. The shift to apartments meant a longer lag time from building approvals to sales.
– Leighton Holdings is radically changing the way it collects billions of dollars owed by its customers including standardising processes across the group, as the construction giant yesterday posted a 20% fall in interim profit to $291m. Underlying net profit was $319m, above expectations of $246m. Receivables swelled by $500m in the six months since December. The company had previously waited till the end of contracts to collect money but now wants to engage more promptly with customers. Leighton also hiked its dividend by 27%.
– Confidence in Australia's mining sector has hit a new five-year low. 93% of leaders are not optimistic of prospects for the next 12 months, compared with 50% a year ago. A further 82% are not confident of large-scale projects resuming in the next 12 months, predicting it will take three to five years to see new projects develop.
– BHP is unlikely to approve a long awaited expansion of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia's outback this decade with the miner revealing it will take four years to trial a processing method it hopes will help make the project profitable. Could eventually be a $30bn development.
– Embattled drilling services company Boart Longyear believes it will comply with its debt covenants for at least the remainder of the year, giving the Utah-based group additional time to pursue the strategic review needed to repair its balance sheet. The company reported revenue of $US224m and adjusted EBITDA of $US14m for the June quarter. Utilisation improved from 32% to 39%, though much of this is seasonality driven. Shares have fallen more than 96% in the past 17 months, but have recovered recently from 8.7c to 23.7c.
– The Seven Network continues to dominate commercial television advertising revenue according to the latest industry figures, with a share of 41.3% as Ten Network slumped to its worst level ever at 20.1%.
– Just two weeks after its share price fell 30% in a two hour period, Navitas has reported a fall in annual profit of 30% on the back of a $23m goodwill impairment, following the announcement by Macquarie University that it would establish its own university pathway course. The Macquarie partnership is speculated to have contributed $30-35m of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, but $840m was wiped off its market capitalisation on the news. Chief Rod Jones argued the company is well placed to benefit from the government's proposed deregulation of higher education.
– ASIC is seeking to ban former Howard government health minister Michael Woolridge as a director due to his role in the collapse of Prime Trust. While Chairman of Prime Trust a $33m listing fee was paid to Bill Lewski from trust funds. Dr Woolridge currently sits on the board of Australian Pharmaceutical Industries and Vision Eye Institute. The hearing continues.
– Media analysts have tipped real estate firm REA Group will launch a full takeover of a South-east Asian listing portal ahead of a predicted surge in online advertising expenditure in the offshore market. REA yesterday announced the acquisition of a major shareholding in iProperty Group worth $16m.
Daily news summary