THE NEWS WRAP: Foreign investment go-ahead granted to Saputo’s bid for Warrnambool

Treasurer Joe Hockey has granted Canadian food giant Saputo foreign investment approval in its bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory.


“The future ownership of WBC is ultimately a matter for the shareholders, but this decision provides certainty in relation to Saputo’s bid,” Hockey says.


“Australia is open for business and we welcome foreign investment when it is not contrary to the national interest.”


Saputo is one of the rival bidders for WBC, with Murray Goulburn and Bega also placing bids for the company.


Debate over minimum wages


The former head of the Fair Pay Commission under John Howard, Ian Harper, has rebuffed Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council head, Maurice Newman, over claims a cut to the minimum wage would boost the national economy.


“When you find out that the minimum wage in Australia is $US33,500, you compare that with most of Europe at around $22,000, Canada, which is our probably closest competitor, which is $22,000 and a 44-hour week, you realise you’re right off the pace,” Newman says.


However, Harper says few Australians earn the minimum wage, or even the minimum set forward in industrial awards, with enterprise bargaining agreements setting wages for most employees.


“When it comes to the competitiveness of the Australian economy, really the minimum wage is not a big deal. Very few Australians are paid the absolute minimum wage,” Harper says.


“Most Australians who earn wages are paid wages that are negotiated as part of enterprise bargaining agreements, and they’re above the absolute minimum.”


News Corp records $41 million net profit


News Corporation has announced its first quarter revenue fell to $2.2 billion, down from $2.3 billion a year earlier, including a 22% fall in revenue from its Australian newspapers and an overall net profit of $41 million.


“We have been consistently cost-conscious and are transforming our publishing operations longer term into multi-platform businesses,” chief executive Robert Thompson says.


“We are vigorously pursuing a strategy to improve our revenue prospects and we look forward to updating all in future quarters.”




The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.26% to 15741.46. The Aussie dollar is down to US93 cents.


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