Telstra and the NBN Monopoly - Talking Business 2011 Ep 21c

A review of the week in business, with expert analysis and commentary

Leon and Garry talking about Telstra and NBN Co signing the $11 billion NBN agreement. The new ACCC chair, Rod Sims, warns that the NBN is a monopoly. Economists say an interest rate rise may be just six weeks away but the RBA says weak economic data took pressure off it to raise rates. The Melbourne Institute Household Financial Conditions Index plummets 24.3 per cent in June to 25.2, its lowest level in 10 years. The latest Dun & Bradstreet Corporate Health Watch shows that more than 145,000 businesses suffered a risk downgrade in the March quarter 2011. Foster's knocks back the takeover bid lobbed by the world’s second-largest brewer SAB Miller. Analysts say SABMiller's attempt to buy Foster's Group Ltd for $9.5 billion could be only the first of many M&A deals involving Australian companies. The volcanic ash cloud over eastern Australia is costing the tourism sector over $10 million a day. Rio Tinto has increased its grip on Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines at a cost of $US502 million ($A474 million). Contributions to superannuation funds are expected to drop through the three months to June 30, as a result of volatile financial markets, Chinese economic uncertainty, regulatory upheaval and a renewed focus on eliminating household debt. Export earnings from the rural and mineral resources sectors are expected to reach a record of $256 billion in 2011-12. The federal coalition and the Australian Greens have jump-started the public relations campaign over a carbon tax. Australia's local governments have been warned the current mining boom is not big enough to carry the national economy. Retail giants Woolworths Ltd, Myer Holdings Ltd and Westfield Group Ltd have warned that the federal government's industrial relations regime is damaging the economy and could lead to job losses. Woodside Petroleum announces a significant blowout in costs and schedules on its flagship Pluto project. Qantas expects to make a profit of up to $550 million this year, which would be the airline's best since the global financial crisis, despite losing millions from the impact of a string of natural disasters and rising fuel prices. Two giant new solar power plants slated for Moree in western NSW and Chinchilla in Queensland will mark the first time solar power in Australia is deployed on a scale large and reliable enough to rival coal. Rio Tinto Ltd intends to compulsorily acquire the remaining shares in coal miner Riversdale Mining Ltd after Tata Steel sold its 26 per cent stake. Caltex Australia has forecast first-half profit would fall up to 39 per cent, dragged down by high oil prices, a strong Australian dollar and refinery outages. Russia’s central bank has bought $US5 billion ($A4.7 billion) of Australian dollars in a sign of global support for the currency, with the move intended to shift its exposure away from the US dollar. The combined financial liabilities of federal and state governments draws the ire of Future Fund chairman David Murray, who has urged political leaders to take lessons from the European and US sovereign debt crises. Secondary school students will be allowed to work reduced casual weekday hours in the retail sector, under a draft decision by Fair Work Australia (FWA). Chi-X Australia is set to open its stock exchange rivaling the ASX, possibly in November, after the ASX Group, the company that operates the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), approves an application by Chi-X Australia to use its clearing and settlement service.

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Garry Barker and Leon Gettler