Australia

Another front has opened up in the Pacific telecom cold war, with the Australian government committing to fund Telstra's acquisition of debt-laden Digicel Pacific, Lightreading.com reported. Telstra has confirmed it is in talks with local management of the Digicel Group, a Jamaica-headquartered firm that runs around 30 small telcos in the Caribbean, Central America and the south Pacific. The operator said in a statement Monday that the Australian government had promised to provide most of the funds should a deal be reached.

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Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd said on Thursday that it would reject a A$22.26 billion ($16.6 billion) takeover proposal from a group of infrastructure funds, the biggest of a frenzy of Australian deals fuelled by record-low interest rates, Reuters reported. The operator of Australia's largest airport said directors had unanimously concluded the proposal undervalued the airport and was not in the best interest of shareholders. If successful, it would have been one of Australia's biggest buyouts.
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A silver mine in Bosnia and Herzegovina that sat derelict through the years of civil strife that gripped the region from the early 1990s may soon be taken out of mothballs to benefit from an optimistic price outlook, Bloomberg News reported. Adriatic Metals Plc’s Vares project could resume production by the end of 2022 following a hiatus of more than three decades, according to Chief Executive Officer Paul Cronin.
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The U.S. private equity group in talks with Sanjeev Gupta over refinancing his Australian operations, White Oak Global Advisors, is moving deeper into the trade credit business after snapping up one of Greensill Capital’s subsidiaries, the Australian Financial Review reported. White Oak Global Advisors CEO Andre Hakkak, who is in refinancing talks with Sanjeev Gupta, has bought Greensill Capital subsidiary Finacity. White Oak has been named the successful bidder of Finacity, a US firm which helps companies raise cash by acquiring their invoices.
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A consortium led by Macquarie Group Ltd. is exploring a rival offer for Sydney Airport, in a potential challenge to IFM Investors Pty’s A$22.3 billion ($17 billion) bid, Bloomberg News reported. The Australian firm has been speaking with potential partners, including local pension funds, about making a joint offer. The bidding group could include funds managed by Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets. Macquarie may also use some of its own capital for the deal and could seek to rope in some of the MIRA funds’ investors to join the consortium.
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Britain and Australia announced a free trade deal on Tuesday which the British government hailed as an important step in building new trade relationships following its departure from the European Union, Reuters reported. Britain said cars, Scotch whisky and confectionery would be cheaper to sell in Australia because of the agreement, which removes tariffs and reduces red tape. Australia said it was a "great win" for Australian agriculture. The deal is the first bilateral trade accord Britain has negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU last year.
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Australia’s economy raced ahead last quarter as consumers and businesses spent with abandon, lifting output back above where it was last year when pandemic lockdowns tipped the country into its first recession in three decades, Reuters reported. The economy expanded by a real 1.8% in the three months to March, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday. The solid back-to-back quarterly growth helped annual output climb 1.1% to A$525.7 billion ($408.05 billion), a major turnaround from last year's recession low of $468.3 billion.
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Months after sweeping changes to insolvency laws, the budget revealed the government will re-examine what should happen when businesses go bust, ABC.net reported. Robyn Erskine, partner at insolvency firm Brooke Bird, said that it was disturbing the government was again raking over the systems used when businesses need to be wound up. "They're back having a look at that regime, only months after the introduction, and that creates uncertainty in the marketplace," she argued.
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The Presbyterian Church of Queensland, which runs aged care operator PresCare, has been placed in receivership after the sale of three properties fell short, leaving it unable to pay debts owed to a creditor, the Australian Financial Review reported. PCQ was unable to meet the terms of a contract with its partner, real estate investment trust Catalyst Health, triggering the insolvency. Catalyst and PresCare had entered into several sale and lease back deals in recent years.
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Australia unveiled a big-spending budget that aims to run the economy red hot, joining the U.S. and Europe with a fiscal-monetary tandem that seeks to drive unemployment down to levels rarely seen in the past 50 years, Bloomberg News reported. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s 2021-2022 fiscal blueprint aligns both economic orthodoxy with the political needs of a government facing an election in the next year.
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