Fairfax shares fall on restructure news: Midday roundup

Fairfax shares have plummeted this morning following the announcement the media group would be restructuring its Australian operations into five business divisions.

The media group’s shares dropped 2.42% at 11.30am to $0.605, but had fallen below $0.60 earlier this morning.

The company has restructured into the following divisions: Australian Publishing Media, Domain, Digital Ventures, Fairfax Radio and Fairfax New Zealand

Fairfax’s Australian publishing arm will include The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Financial Review and its regional, agricultural and community titles.

As part of the restructure, Fairfax is also making changes to its executive team. Previously the chief executive of Fairfax New Zealand, Allen Williams is now the managing director of Australian Publishing Media.

ACCC rejects NBN Co pricing and access proposals

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a draft decision this morning in regard to the NBN Co pricing and access proposals, stating it was unable to accept its “special access undertaking”, saying further changes are needed.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims says “it is not satisfied” the SAU meets the ACCC’s criteria for acceptance.

“The SAU is a complex undertaking that NBN Co proposes will operate until 2040. It is therefore important that the rights or obligations the SAU imposes on NBN Co, access seekers and the ACCC are reasonable, in the long-term interests of end-users and clearly expressed so that they are well understood by all parties,” Sims says.

Changes to the SAU document include provisions to allow for price “re-balancing”, greater flexibility in its regulatory practices and amendments to facilitate effective commercial negotiation.

Despite the recommended changes, the ACCC found some features, such as the specified initial prices and measures to keep price rises to a minimum, had merit.

Billabong trading halt to continue indefinitely

The trading halt on Billabong is now indefinite, as negotiations with the two interested groups are continuing.

Billabong made a request to the ASX this morning to keep in place a voluntary trading halt until the company “is able to make an announcement in relation to such negotiations”.

The trading halt first began on Tuesday when a decision was unable to be reached over the Easter break.

This week speculation has circulated which suggests the company’s two current suitors have dropped their takeover prices from $1.10 to $1.00, with some believing it’s now as low as $0.80.

Shares open lower

Australian shares have dropped this morning with mining companies posting the greatest losses as the majority of industry sectors declined.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was down 25.5 points to 4932.2 at midday.

The material sector, which incorporates the mining companies, was down 155.5 points as shares in BHP dropped $0.46 to $31.77 and Rio Tinto shares fell $0.56 to $54.82.

Overnight the Dow Jones declined 0.76% to 14550.35.

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