Australia

Australia’s central bank kept its monetary settings unchanged, betting there’s enough stimulus to foster an economic recovery ahead of a gradual reopening of Sydney and Melbourne as vaccination rates climb, Bloomberg News reported. Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe kept the cash rate at 0.1% -- as expected -- at Tuesday’s meeting. Lowe cut weekly bond purchases to A$4 billion ($2.9 billion) last month, while pushing out their next review to mid-February to help cushion the economic impact of lockdowns along the nation’s east coast.
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Australian employment dived in August as coronavirus lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne forced businesses to lay off workers and slash hours, while the jobless rate was nudged lower by a sharp fall in the number of people looking for work, Reuters reported. Thursday's data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed employment fell by 146,000 in August, compared to median forecasts of a drop of 90,000. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.5%, having already fallen to 4.6% in July when lockdowns also distorted the data.
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Australia's competition regulator on Monday denied authorisation for Qantas Airways and Japan Airlines (JAL) to coordinate flights between the two countries, citing competition concerns as international travel is set to resume, Reuters reported. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said the regulator was not satisfied that the public benefits of the proposed joint business agreement would outweigh harm to competition.
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A sale of Australia's biggest airport moved closer on Monday as an infrastructure investor group won permission to conduct due diligence on Sydney Airport Holdings Pt Ltd, after sweetening its takeover offer to A$23.6 billion ($17.4 billion), Reuters reported. The move sent the airport's shares up 5%, with analysts saying a rival bid appeared unlikely given the scale of the funding needed and foreign ownership rules that mean the airport must remain 51% Australian owned.
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An independent review of the Australian stock exchange outage last November found that the bourse operator's new trading system was not ready to go live, the country's corporate regulator said on Monday, Reuters reported. The outage on Nov. 16 last year nearly wiped out an entire session and damaged the reputation of the bourse operator ASX Ltd. The independent review conducted by IBM Australia found that while the ASX met industry practices in 58 out of 75 of the capabilities assessed, it missed in 17.
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BHP Group has agreed to sell its petroleum business to Woodside Petroleum in a merger to create a top 10 independent oil and gas producer worth A$38.5 billion ($28 billion) with growth assets in Australia and the Americas, Reuters reported. BHP's exit from petroleum, which made up just 5% of its annual earnings, speeds up its exit from fossil fuels amid pressure from environmentally conscious investors. BHP CEO Mike Henry, however, said the company remained committed to metallurgical coal used in steel making.
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Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd on Monday rejected an improved A$22.80 billion ($16.81 billion) bid from a group of infrastructure investors, saying that it undervalued the airport operator, but that it was open to a higher offer, Reuters reported. The new offer valued Sydney Airport at A$8.45 per share, 2.4% higher than the previous offer of A$8.25 a share, and a more than 9% premium to the stock's Friday close.
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Australia on Tuesday eased so-called continuous disclosure laws for publicly listed companies, which will now protect companies and their officers against liabilities for misleading and deceptive statements or forecasts unless "fault" is proven, Reuters reported. The new laws come as part of a broader clamp down on the litigation funding industry following a surge in costly class action lawsuits.
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National Australia Bank will buy Citigroup's local consumer unit for about $882.24 million, the companies said Monday, as the American bank exits the region while buy-now, pay-later rivals challenge the old credit card business model, Reuters reported. The deal consolidates more than 90% of the country's credit cards industry into the hands of Australia's Big Four banks, with NAB adding a million customers through the deal to become the nation's second-largest credit card provider. "The proposed acquisition ...
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The volume of mergers and acquisitions in Australia is already at its highest annual level on record with nearly five months of the year to go, the Wall Street Journal reported. More than $134 billion in pending and completed deals have been announced this year, according to data provider Dealogic. That already outpaces 2011, Australia’s previous busiest year on record, when just under $134 billion was announced for the entire year.
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