Hockey approves Saputo takeover of WCB; Business finance rises in September; Business confidence drops in October: Midday Roundup

Canadian dairy giant Saputo’s $450 million bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has the unconditional tick from Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey and the Foreign Investment Review Board, according to reports.

“Australia is open for business and we welcome foreign investment when it is not contrary to the national interest,” Hockey said in a statement released this morning.

“No conditions have been placed on this approval. The future ownership of WCB is ultimately a matter for the shareholders but this decision provides certainty in relation to Saputo’s bid.”

WCB is the subject of a three-way bidding war between Saputo, Bega Cheese and the Murray Goulburn Cooperative. Saputo is the current top bidder with about $8 a share on the table, reports Fairfax.

The news comes as US corporation Archer Daniels Midland’s takeover play for GrainCorp is being considered.

Business finance rises in September

Business finance commitments have risen by 2.8% in September, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

The 2.8% jump brought the total value of business finance commitments to $35.79 billion, compared to an upwardly revised figure of $34.80 billion in August.

Lease financing increased the most, up 13.6% to $384 million.

Personal finance commitments was the only category to drop, falling 0.9% in the month to $7.68 billion.

Business confidence drops in October

Business confidence has taken a hit in October, with NAB’s latest monthly business survey revealing it dropped five points on the scale.

The result comes after a 12 point boost in September, likely buoyed by post-election positive sentiment.

“Businesses may have reassessed their expectations about future activity in the changed political environment given the continued weakness in actual business conditions,” NAB chief economist Alan Oster said in a statement.

“Nonetheless, overall confidence remains relatively higher than the well below-average levels over the previous three years.”

Shares up on open

Aussie shares have lifted on open this morning, buoyed by positive economic data from the United States and China.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 15.5 points to 5402.6, at 11:58 AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed 21.32 points higher, up 0.14% to 15,783.10.

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