Trading halt for Metcash; Corporate bookmakers lose High Court challenge: Midday roundup

Metcash has been placed in a trading halt ahead of a board meeting that could see the company hit with impairment charges.

According to a statement released to the Australian Securities Exchange, Metcash said the board meeting would be held early next week in order to discuss some recommendations.

Impairment charges may affect the company’s net profit.

“A trading halt is requested pending a board meeting on Monday (April 2) to consider management recommendations which, if agreed to by the board, could result in impairment charges,” Metcash said in the statement.

The company’s shares last traded at $4.30. It last posted a profit of $94.4 million in the six months to September 2011.

Chief executive Andrew Reitzer said earlier this month the company is facing its toughest conditions in 14 years.

Betfair, Sportsbet lose High Court challenge

Betting groups Betfair and Sportsbet have lost a High Court challenge against paying millions in fees for use of New South Wales race field information.

Sportsbet marketing director Barni Evans said the decision was disappointing, according to AAP.

“We are disappointed by today’s High Court decision,” he said.

“But we respect its authority and our focus turns now to protecting our customers from any negative impact from this decision.”

Shares flat after weak offshore markets

The local sharemarket has opened flat this morning after a weak result overseas, as investors remain nervous over Greece after S&P hinted at another possible debt restructure.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 11 points or 0.2% to 4348.9 at 11.50 AEST, while the Australian dollar was at $US1.03.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 19.6 points or 0.2% to 13,145.8.

Telstra appoints new director

Telstra has appointed one-time Microsoft and Motorola executive Tim Chen to its board.

“Tim’s career experience aligns well with our strategic growth areas, particularly in our Asian and network applications and services businesses,” Telstra chair Catherine Livingstone said this morning.

“Tim brings broad technology, strategic and business experience working with private and public sector entities.”

“We are very pleased to have him joining the Telstra board.”

Chen is a director of three listed Chinese companies.

Bunnings flags 6000 new jobs in $1.5 billion expansion

Hardware giant Bunnings says it will add 6000 jobs in three years, as it spends $1.5 billion to build 85 new stores amid a challenge from newcomer Woolworths.

The 18-year-old company, which is owned by conglomerate Wesfarmers, has just opened its 200th stores.

“Expanding our network will allow us to serve more and more communities,” managing director John Gillam said.

ANZ chief says Europe problems not tackled yet

ANZ chief Mike Smith says the problems in Europe are not yet solved, despite recent bailouts.

“Despite the relative calm that has followed the Greek bailout, the basic problem still hasn’t been resolved – which is, the economies of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland simply aren’t competitive while they are part of the Eurozone,” Smith said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It is difficult to foresee what the next event is going to be that triggers market uncertainty … other than to say, there will be another crisis because the problems in Europe are going to take many years to work through.”

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