Government proposes remuneration reform, Santos shares rise on Gladstone project approval: Economy Roundup

The Federal Government is now calling for public comment on plans to take back remuneration where a company’s statements are misstated, in a move that is designed to improve market disclosure.

The proposals will see directors and executives forced to repay company remuneration based on information that turns out to be misstated. Currently, shareholders can only recover that remuneration through legal action.

“If it is subsequently revealed that the financial statements were materially misstated, an executive should not be able to retain any excess remuneration contingent on that incorrect information,” the Government said in a discussion paper.

“Material misstatements in financial statements can occur either through deliberate misconduct or unintentional error, and may be large enough to influence the decision-making of investors and other stakeholders.”

The move comes as the Government has attempted to reshape laws regarding remuneration over the past few years.

Santos shares have gained over 6% this morning after the company signed a number of deals to get the Gladstone LNG project underway.

The company sold 15% of the Gladstone project last week to Korea Gas Corp and France’s Total for $665 million. Shares in the company rose nearly 5% this morning, lifting as high as 6.3%.

“The placement was heavily oversubscribed with strong demand from institutional shareholders,” Santos said in a statement.

Citigroup analyst Mark Greenwood also said in a statement the deal is a vote of confidence in the major project.

“The long-awaited deal with (KOGAS,) the world’s largest LNG buyer is a big vote of confidence in the project and paves the way for a FID (final investment decision) planned for January 2011,” he said.

Crane has rejected a $740 million takeover offer from New Zealand’s Fletcher Building company, saying it is inadequate and undervalues the group.

Crane said in a statement the deal was “highly conditional” and “opportunistic”. It has also recommended that shareholders reject the plan, causing Fletcher to release a statement of its own.

“We’d reiterate that the offer is a substantial premium for the shares in Crane and an attractive valuation multiple,” Philip King, Fletcher Building’s general manager of investor and media, said after the proposal was made.

Ramsay Health Care shares have gained over 5% this morning to $17.52 after the company announced its first core net profit after tax for the six months ending December 31, 2010 is likely to be between 26-28% higher than the previous year.

“The strong core NPAT growth in this period is a result of better than expected performance in the Australian business, brownfield ramp up, slightly better than expected results from our UK business (which has performed well despite a weak UK economy) and interest costs having been lower than originally expected as a result of lower than anticipated interest rate rises coupled with more effective capital management,” Ramsay said in a statement.

Shares higher after strong overseas leads

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning after strong overseas leads.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 7.2 points or 0.15% to 4770.3 at 12.05 AEST, while the Australian dollar grew to US99c.

AMP shares have lost 0.6% to $5.34, as Commonwealth Bank shares have gained 0.4% to $45.19. ANZ lost 0.3% to $23.52 as Westpac fell 0.7% to $23.03.

Meanwhile, treasurer Wayne Swan has approved China’s Minmetals Resources’ acquisition of Album Resources Private and the Album Australian mining assets.

“These undertakings will ensure that the Australian mines continue to be operated on a commercial basis,” a statement read.

“They demonstrate Minmetals Resources’ commitment to the ongoing development and expansion of these mines providing jobs and benefits for regional Australia and the broader community.”

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