Fairfax sells Trade Me: Midday roundup

Fairfax Media is selling its remaining stake in New Zealand online auction house Trade Me in a move that will get rid of most of the media company’s debt.

Fairfax will get $616 million under the deal after paying $NZ700 million for the business in 2006.

Fairfax shares rose as much as 6% in early trade on the back of the news.

Fairfax Media’s chief executive and managing director Greg Hywood said in a statement to the ASX this morning the proceeds from the sale would “provide us with a very strong balance sheet and the financial flexibility to invest and complete the company’s structural transformation”.

Billabong shares jump on takeover reports

Shares in Billabong surged to a two-month high on speculation that former executive Paul Naude made a takeover bid for the surfwear manufacturer over the weekend.

This morning, Billabong shares hit their highest point since October 11, lifting 6.95% to $1, against a benchmark index fall of 0.09%.

Naude offered the struggling surfwear company $1.10 per share over the weekend, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Australian Court slaps $7.5 million fine on Thai Airways

The Federal Court in Sydney has ordered Thai Airways International to pay $7.5 million in penalties for engaging in cartel conduct.

“The court has now ordered total penalties in Australia of almost $100 million. The $7.5 million penalties ordered against Thai Airways have contributed to the highest total penalties resulting from a single ACCC investigation,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“Thai Airways is the thirteenth international airline to have admitted to engaging in cartel conduct in Australia and to have penalties ordered against it.

Stockmarket flat

The Australian stock market opened the trading week little changed after concerns about budget negotiations in the United States.

At the official market opening the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.09% to 4579.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index slipped 0.06% to 4592.4 points.

Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said while US markets closed weaker on Friday, the Australian market was unlikely to lose much ground in early trading this morning.

“The recent sharp rally in China’s stock market, Friday’s lift in iron ore prices, and the prospect of more economic stimulus in Japan following the weekend’s elections will all be supportive for investor thinking on the resource sector today,” he said.


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