Foreign minister urges Huawei to stay in Australia: Midday roundup

Foreign minister Bob Carr has urged Chinese telecommunications group Huawei to stay in Australia despite being shut out of tenders for the National Broadband Network.

The company, which is closing in on becoming the world’s largest telco equipment company, was told last year it could not take part in the tender process due to security concerns over hacking attacks from China.

Senator Carr told ABC Radio the telco was welcome to expand its Australian operations.

“I would urge the company to continue to expand in Australia not withstanding this decision,” he said.

“It’s not unusual for countries, and China cannot be exempt from these considerations, to take national security concerns into account when it looks at certain types of foreign investment.”

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan also said the ban would not affect Chinese investment, but also noted “I don’t comment on intelligence matters”, after an address to the Australia China Business Council, according to AAP.

Brambles delays sale plans for Recall

Brambles has pushed back the expected date of the divestment of its Recall business, although it says it is in advanced talks.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company said the date it expects to finalise the deal has been delayed, although it expects the matter to be finalised before the end of the month.

“Brambles is continuing advanced discussions while due diligence on the Recall business is being completed, ahead of a potential transaction,” the company said.

“As a result of the ongoing nature of these negotiations, Brambles now expects to announce an outcome to the process within the next four to eight weeks.”

Australian shares flat after weak offshore leads

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat today after a weak lead from offshore markets, especially in the US where new data suggests consumer confidence is sluggish.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 3.1 points or 0.1% to 4304.4 at 11.30 AEST, while the Australian dollar fell to $US1.04c after new data showed the Chinese industrial market experienced a drop in profit.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 43 points or 0.3% to 13,197.16, after new data showed consumers grew more pessimistic about the economic recovery.

Skilled Group says labour market going through ‘sweet spot’

The Australian labour market is going through a ‘sweet spot,’ according to labour hire group Skilled Group.

Skilled chief executive officer Mick McMahon has told Business Spectator that about 50% of the company was focused on mining, oil and gas.

“We’ve sold out of some businesses, call centre businesses and underperforming businesses in New Zealand, to position the portfolio of businesses where we would like them for the future,” Mr McMahon said.

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