Fairfax appoints Roger Corbett as chairman, Banks to wind back bad debt provisions: Economy Roundup
Fairfax Media has appointed former Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett as the company's new chairman with a unanimous election, according to a statement from the company.
"Fairfax, like most companies, has challenges ahead but the decisions taken in the last few years by management and the board have, I believe, put Fairfax in a position which is envied by media companies around the world," Corbett said.
Retiring chairman Ron Walker also said in a statement he is pleased the succession process has been finalised, allowing him to step down as of 30 October.
"Roger makes an outstanding contribution to the board and brings critical skills to the task... He is a very experienced and successful businessman; he understands stakeholder needs, is a very strategic thinker and has excellent financial capability."
The decision follows weeks of controversy regarding the move, with a number of heated discussions and statements taking place between shareholders and directors John and Nicholas Fairfax.
Banks to wind back bad debt provisions
Meanwhile, the big four banks may begin to wind up $8 billion in bad-debt provisions during 2010 due to the improved outlook for the economy, BBY analyst George Gabriel told The Australian.
In a report released yesterday, Gabriel said bad debt write-offs for the four banks would peak at around $9.6 billion, and that tier-one capital ratios will begin to fall to the long-term average of 7.6% from the first half of 2011.
But he also said the banks would not make a move until after the next federal election, which is due late next year, because of the potential political fallout of the move.
"Banks will wait until after the (election) given the political risks attached to bad-debt writebacks, against a backdrop of rising net interest margins and wholesale funding guarantees," he said.
Australian shares rise after Wall Street closes higher
The Australian sharemarket has opened higher today after slightly positive results from Wall Street. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 41.4 points or 0.87% to 4781.2 at 12.10 AEST. The Australian dollar also reached another 14-month high, nearing US91c.
Commonwealth Bank shares increased 1.8% to $53.60, while NAB shares fell 1% to $31.33. ANZ gained 2% to $24.70 as Westpac rose 1.4% to $26.21.
Fortescue Metal's decision to self-fund its expansion costs could slow its expansion, analyst have said.
The Age has reported that some Credit Suisse analysts have said the prospect of the company ramping up its production to 95 million tonnes through cashflow is "simply inconceivable".
Fortescue will spend $360 million at its Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek mines to reach a combined total of 55 million tonnes of iron ore annually.
In Victoria, CityLink now produces its owners revenue of nearly $100 million every three months, according to new results posted on the ASX.
The tollway, which was the first private tollway to be constructed in Victoria, brought in revenue of $93.2 million for Transurban in the quarter to September.
Additionally, the number of drivers using CityLink has now risen to 675,000 in the same three months, an increase of about 10,000 cars compared to the same period last year.
Billionaire George Soros invests in Platinum Australia
Some funds owned by billionaire investor George Soros have acquired a 9% share in exploration company Platinum Australia, the company has said. Platinum operates the Smokey Hills platinum mine in South Africa, and projects an annual production capacity of 100,000 ounces in South Africa and Australia.
Soros Fund Management acquired 21.7 million shares through Quantum Partners LDC and RS Capital Partners earlier this month, with RBC Capital Markets analyst Leon Esterhuizen telling Reuters the plan shows positivity about the mining industries.
"People are starting to look around and see which commodities have been left behind, which particular stocks are left behind, and junior producers generally fall into that category."
In the US, a new survey released by the National Association of Business Economists has found that 80% of respondents believe the economy is now growing after four consecutive quarters of declines.
"The great recession is over," NABE President-Elect Lynn Reaser told Reuters. "The vast majority of business economists believe that the recession has ended, but that the economic recovery is likely to be more moderate than those typically experienced following steep declines," Reaser said.
The survey, which was taken in September, predicts real GDP growth to be 2.9% for the second half of this year, with a contraction of 2.5% expected for the full year. Next year's growth is expected to grow to 2.6%.
On Wall Street, stocks remained slightly higher as investors remain nervous before the start of the earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20.86 points or 0.21% to 9885.8.