Another mini property boom?… Market slips back… Debenture fund crackdown… AWAs: Fair but backlogged… Share buyback boom… SmartCompany Awards update

Another mini property boom?

Brisbane property has gone nuts, Melbourne apartments are the hot new tip and even Sydney is on the improve.

Brisbane is the standout, with residential prices rising 15.7% in the past year, just beating Perth on 15.3%. Also waterfront units in Queensland have risen from $650,000 to $1.3 million in recent years, reports The Australian Financial Review.

Meanwhile prestige property in Sydney is in high demand with no sign that uncertainty on the sharemarket is causing jitters at the top end. The 10 most expensive NSW homes sold in the second quarter of the year for $111 million.

A four bedroom property at Point Piper was sold for $13.8 million in May, followed this month by the sale of an eight-year-old mansion Routala, for $28.8 million.

Even Sydney has had some reprieve with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistic figures for the June quarter showing that despite distressed selling in the west, median Sydney house prices rose 2.1% in 2006/07 after falling for two years.

Better still, in the June 2007 quarter Sydney’s median price rose 2.3% compared with the March 2007 quarter.

Property pundits predict the boom is set to continue, with the profits, bonuses and dividends from the last few years being channeled into the property market.

Amanda Gome


Market slips back

After four days of gains, the sharemarket has slipped again this morning. The S&P/ASX 200 Index was 6100, down 1% on yesterday’s close, at 12.11pm.

The biggest falls were Fortescue Metal Group (1.8%) and Macquarie Bank (2.6%).

Surfwear company Billabong International’s share price has slipped 0.7% this morning, despite reporting a 14.6% net profit increase for the financial year ended 30 June 2007. Earnings per share growth of 19.2% in constant currency terms, or 14.7% in reported terms, was slightly higher than earlier guidance.

The Australian dollar was buying US82c this morning, as investors trickle back into the carry trades amid growing confidence that central banks will contain the credit crisis.

Jacqui Walker


Debenture fund ASIC crackdown

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission has issued a proposal for new disclosure rules for debenture issuers. It has identified 92 issuers of unlisted, unrated debentures worth $7.6 billion that would have to comply with the new regime.

Issuers that don’t comply would have to explain why not.

ASIC, in an effort to prevent further Westpoint-style collapses, wants issuers to disclose benchmark information in categories including credit rankings, liquidity, equity capital, lending principles, loan portfolio diversification and security, related party transactions and rollovers. There are new advertising rules proposed too: with limits to the use of words “secured”, “guaranteed” and “safe”.

The proposal is set out in a consultation paper. It names the issuers on page 68.

ASIC chairman Tony D’Aloisio says if it found that companies weren’t complying with the rules, ASIC would seek “additional intervention at a government level”.

Jacqui Walker


AWAs are fair, but backlog remains

No company has failed the Workplace Authority’s fairness test for AWAs in the first two months of its application. But many employers have been asked to provide more information to the authority, and some have been asked to make changes to pass the test.

Common errors made by employers include miscalculating overtime and penalty rates, and confusion over casual rates, Workplace Authority director Barbara Bennett told The Australian Financial Review.

Bennett says that no employers should fail the test because they are given the opportunity to increase the hourly rate or offer additional compensation, or re-negotiate the agreement to comply.

There is still a massive backlog of 100,000 agreements to be cleared. Bennett says it will be cleared in three to four weeks, and the authority will then set benchmarks for how long it will take to process an agreement.

Jacqui Walker


Booming profits returned to shareholders

Share buybacks are predicted to be all the rage this year – $20 billion is tipped to be returned to shareholders through buybacks to take advantage of the recent sharemarket volatility and strong balance sheets.

Companies already to announce buyback plans include: Aristocrat Leisure, Qantas Airways, CSL, Seven Network, James Hardie, Brambles and Boral.

Jacqui Walker


Update on the SmartCompany awards: Will the judges please decide?

Oh, it has been tough! The SmartCompany judges have been pouring over hundreds of entries to decide on who wins the SmartCompany Awards for 2007.

The calibe of most of the entries was very high, with some outstanding companies. Judges report that in some categories, the winners were immediately obvious. In others, the judges fought like cat and dog.

In fact one category is still under dispute as the judges just will not agree on a winner. They have been reminded that they are over deadline!

The SmartCompany50 List will be announced on 14 September. Those who have made the list will be receiving an invitation in the next few days to come and celebrate at a cocktail party on 14 September where they will be presented with their awards by Federal Government’s Small Business Minister Fran Bailey and SmartCompany publisher Amanda Gome.

And just to make this absolutely clear, SmartCompanies will not know their placing on the list or who has won the major prizes from our sponsors until the evening of 14 September. So stop asking.


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