THE NEWS WRAP: “Twiggy” Forrest backs decision to block GrainCorp takeover

Mining tycoon Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has publicly backed a controversial decision by Treasurer Joe Hockey to block the takeover of GrainCorp by US agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland.

 

In a speech to the Australia-China Senior Business Leaders’ Forum, Forrest pointed out that of 130 foreign takeover bids reviewed since the September election, the GrainCorp takeover was the only proposal rejected.

 

“In the case of GrainCorp, the decision was necessary given the concentration of power in a near monopoly situation.

 

“The upshot is whenever you have got such concentration of market power there, consideration needs to be given to more than one set of stakeholders, the shareholders.”

 

ANZ hit with massive class action over bank fees

 

ANZ has been hit with the largest consumer class action in Australian history, with law firm Maurice Blackburn taking action over excessive bank fees.

 

Andrew Watson, the head of class actions at Maurice Blackburn, says the bank’s fees don’t accurately reflect the costs of minor transgressions.

 

“The fees range, but $25 to $35 is the sort of range for fees that are imposed, so you might be a dollar over on your account or a day late in your payment and the banks will slug you with a fee that’s out of all proportion to what it costs them for that minor transgression,” he said.

 

“We think it’s worth [in total] about $50 million, but overall we’re running a case for 170,000 bank customers against eight major banks, and that’s worth about $220 million.”

 

Virgin attacks federal help for Qantas

 

Virgin chief executive John Borghetti has called for Virgin Australia to receive the same support from the federal government as its arch-rival, with Treasurer Hockey refusing to rule out using public funds to prop up Qantas.

 

“There have been media reports that the government offered comfort letters to Qantas’s credit rating agencies, prior to our capital raising,” Borghetti says.

 

“I would also note that if Virgin Australia had been afforded the benefit of such a letter, it would have enabled us to achieve superior outcomes from both the recent debt bond issue undertaken in the US market and the capital raising that is underway.”

 

Overnight

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down to 5314.3. The Aussie dollar is up to US91.36 cents.

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