Telstra extends NBN shareholder vote, Foster’s Ian Johnston to step down: Economy Roundup

Telco giant Telstra has extended the timetable for a shareholder vote on the $11 billion deal with the Government over the National Broadband Network until mid-2011.

“We want to make it clear that we are still focused on bringing a deal to shareholders by the middle of 2011,” the company said in a letter to shareholders.

“These are important issues for consumers and the industry, and critical to the value of our agreement with NBN Co., so we understand the need for the Government to take additional time to consider all their implications.”

The decision is a blow to both the Government and the National Broadband Network Company, which hoped to have a deal finalised by the end of the month.

Both chairman Catherine Livingstone and chief executive David Thodey have said the company now has more certainty regarding the network after the business plan for the network was released.

“We also continue to discuss with the government how it will implement… reform of the universal service obligation, to which Telstra has attributed approximately $2 billion of value as part of the $11 billion total valuation,” the company said.

Foster’s chief executive Ian Johnston will leave the business after the company restructures its beer and wine divisions in 2011.

“Work on the potential demerger continues to progress well and if a demerger proceeds it is expected to be implemented in the first half of calendar 2011,” Foster’s said in a statement this morning.

Johnston served as a non-executive director before taking the job, and has said that he looks forward to working with the company during the next few months.

Property giant Centro has said it has received several bids for properties in the US and Australia, although evaluations of the properties will take some time.

“Evaluation of the proposals received will take time due to this being a complex process that will require consultation with relevant stakeholders, including lenders, and we will keep the market informed as appropriate,” Centro has said in a statement.

Shares higher after Wall Street lead

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning following a solid lead on Wall Street where a rally has continued through the week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up two points or 0.04% to 4774 at 12.00 AEST, while the Australian dollar had also managed to gain ground to US99c this morning.

Traffic light group Redflex Holdings has said it has received several confidential and incomplete acquisition proposals and will make an announcement early next year.

“Redflex is continuing to negotiate with a number of parties, including Macquarie Group, and expects to advise shareholders in early 2011 whether it has been able to reach acceptable terms with any of these parties,” the group said in a statement.

“No assurance can be given that these discussions with result in any formal proposal being made to Redflex shareholders.”

Engineering group UGL has joined up with an Indian rail freight manufacturer to establish a manufacturing facility in Koltaka.

“The joint venture with Texmaco marks a significant development for UGL’s domestic and international rail freight customers,” UGL chief executive Richard Leupen said in a statement.

US regulators to target executive pay

The Wall Street Journal has reported that regulators may force financial firms to give half or more of executive pay in the form of stock or deferred compensation.

The move could affect companies including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, and is aimed at stopping the companies from taking excessive risks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 55 points or 0.48% to 11,533.16.

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