Oceania

A planned $500 million bond sale from Papua New Guinea, a country that has tried and failed to sell foreign debt before, will test whether investors are still receptive to riskier borrowers after a selloff in emerging markets, The Wall Street Journal reported. The offering could conclude this week, and would mark the first sale of junk-rated sovereign-dollar debt since July, when Angola sold $500 million in 30-year bonds, according to Dealogic. In recent months, rising U.S. interest rates and a stronger dollar have hit emerging-market stocks and bonds.
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The Reserve Bank of Australia is downplaying risks to the housing market from rising mortgage interest rates, saying that the cost of funding a home loan is still below that a year ago, The Wall Street Journal reported. In minutes of its Sep. 4 policy meeting released Tuesday, the RBA said that at the time of the board gathering, lenders accounting for around 40% of the market had raised mortgage lending rates.
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Australia’s Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal obtained court approval on Tuesday for a $3.2 billion debt refinancing plan, offering respite to its owners who would have had to start repayments this month, Reuters reported. The Queensland-based terminal, known as WICET, is 40 percent owned by miner and commodities trader Glencore and was built to service a consortium of eight coal companies during a period of high commodity prices. It will now have the maturity of $2.6 billion in senior debt extended from this month until September 2026, court documents showed.
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Insolvency practitioners could face fines of up to $75,000 if they don't report serious issues in failed businesses, if proposed legislative amendments go ahead, Radio New Zealand reported. The penalties were one idea floated in a Supplementary Order Paper on the proposed amendments to the Insolvency Practitioners Bill. The legislation aimed to get rid of errant behaviour by so-called friendly liquidators, administrators and receivers who did not give all creditors a fair go. Submissions on the bill close on Friday.
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One of the longest stalemates in Australian corporate history could be nearing a resolution. Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty, the joint venture between Vodafone Plc and a unit of Victor Li’s CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. that runs the nation’s third-largest mobile network, is in talks to merge with homegrown challenger TPG Telecom Ltd., the companies said in statements Wednesday.
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Wesfarmers’ annual profit halved as a result of more than A$1bn in write-offs linked to the sale of Homebase, the Australian retail-to-industrials conglomerate’s disastrous foray into the UK DIY market, the Financial Times reported. The company said on Wednesday that full-year profit for the 12 months through June fell 58 per cent to A$1.2bn (US$861.4m). But it posted strong results from its core Australia and New Zealand businesses, with profit at its continuing operations rising 5.2 per cent to A$2.9bn, slightly ahead of consensus forecasts.
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JB Hi-Fi expects to see another year of declining revenues on this side of the Tasman as the ASX-listed discount consumer electronics retailer attempts to drive profitability in its New Zealand unit, The New Zealand Herald reported. The local division of the Melbourne-based company widened its loss before interest and tax to $2.9 million in the 12 months ended June 30 from an ebit-loss $2.7 million a year earlier. Not only did margins shrink, but revenue dipped 1.1 per cent to $231.5 million with the closure of one store and exit from whiteware goods.
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Hedge funds have found a new way to profit from the sorry state of Australia’s housing market: playing off how much poorer consumers feel as their home values decline, Bloomberg News reported. Managers including Totus Capital and Sydney’s Regal Funds Management are heaping bearish wagers on companies from JB Hi-Fi Ltd. to Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd., betting discretionary retail stocks will wobble as the country’s decades-long property boom goes into reverse and people shop less.
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Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp said on Thursday it would disburse A$100 million ($74.2 million) in cheap loans to farmers as a record dry spell hits parts of the nation, while the country’s lenders fight to regain public trust amidst an ongoing misconduct inquiry, Reuters reported. The drought in Australia’s east, one of the worst on record, is impacting every area of rural life, often with global trade and price implications. Already many cattle graziers are being forced to sell stock they can no longer feed.
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Almost one million Australian homeowners are set to default on their mortgages in the coming months, an independent analyst warns. Digital Finance Analytics principal Martin North explained that if the big four banks do go ahead and increase their standard variable rates by as little as 0.15 percentage points over the next few months, homeowners could default, the Daily Mail reported. A number of Australian banks have already begun the process of raising their interest rates, ABC News reported.
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