Packaged beer the new normal for big brewers

Original article by Eli Greenblat
The Australian – Page: 17 : 31-Mar-20

Australian brewers have responded to the coronavirus-induced closure of the nation’s pubs by shifting their focus to producing beer in cans and bottles rather than kegs. Coopers Brewery’s MD Tim Cooper says kegs usually account for about 15 per cent of the family-owned firm’s volumes, but it is currently not producing any keg beer. He adds that Coopers’ sales in March have been 30 per cent higher than expected as consumers flock to liquor stores. Carlton & United Breweries and Lion are also focusing on the packaged beer market.

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COOPERS BREWERY LIMITED, CARLTON AND UNITED BREWERIES, LION PTY LTD

Cut prices to below $1.20, oil giants told

Original article by Glenda Korporaal
The Australian – Page: 3 : 31-Mar-20

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims notes the slump in oil prices is good for the economy, given Australia is an importer of oil. Sims says that given Australian consumers are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, they should not be expected to have to buy petrol at above $1.30 a litre. Sims says prices should be, at worse, under $1.20, and "heading considerably lower". Sims is confident the Australian economy will quickly recover once the COVID-19 crisis is over.

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AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION AND CONSUMER COMMISSION

Reserve Bank could lend money to super funds to help cover coronavirus withdrawals

Original article by Ben Butler
The Guardian – Page: Online : 31-Mar-20

The federal government has predicted that as much as $27 billion could be withdrawn from super funds under rules allowing people who lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19 to withdraw up to $20,000, but some funds suggest that it could be as much as $60 billion. The Reserve Bank is understood to be working out how it might set up a government-backed facility to assist funds to pay withdrawals, although Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has thus far rejected the idea. The government’s decision to introduce a wage subsidy to keep people in work could mean the level of withdrawals may not be as great as previously forecast.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY

Unions warn huge chunk of casual workforce could miss out on coronavirus wage subsidy

Original article by Euan Black
The New Daily – Page: Online : 31-Mar-20

Full-time and part-time workers will be eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy, as will casual workers who have been with the same employer for at least 12 months. However, ACTU secretary Sally McManus says the wage subsidy should be available to all casual workers, adding that it should be increased to $1,375 per week rather than $1,500 per fortnight. Gerard Dwyer, the national president of the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association, also supports extending the payment to all casual workers, as well as visa workers.

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ACTU, SHOP, DISTRIBUTIVE AND ALLIED EMPLOYEES’ ASSOCIATION

Nine targets $266m in cost cuts as virus hits

Original article by Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 15 : 31-Mar-20

Nine Entertainment Company aims to reduce its costs by $266m in calendar 2020, including $102m in the first half. Amongst other things, the media giant expects its broadcasting division to achieve cost savings $130m if the entire NRL season is cancelled; this would be split across the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years. Nine has also advised that the coronavirus lockdown has prompted strong growth in subscriptions and usage of its Stan and 9Now streaming services.

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NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, STAN ENTERTAINMENT PTY LTD, 9NOW

Oil M&A looms as Woodside clears decks; FAR in trouble

Original article by Angela Macdonald-Smith
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 & 22 : 31-Mar-20

James Byrne of Citibank is among the analysts who expect Woodside Petroleum to seek acquisitions after putting its key growth projects on hold. He notes that the oil and gas group has $US4.9bn in cash and $US7.9bn in liquidity, and it may be prepared to temporarily lose its BBB+ credit rating if the right acquisition emerges. Meanwhile, Far Limited has advised that the sharp decline in the crude oil price in recent months means that it cannot finalise new debt facilities to finance its share of the Woodside-led Sangomar oil project in Senegal.

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WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LIMITED – ASX WPL, FAR LIMITED – ASX FAR, CITIBANK PTY LTD

‘We’re bloody lucky we’ve got them’: from pariahs to saviours

Original article by James Frost, James Eyers
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 7 : 31-Mar-20

Australia’s major banks have received 170,000 requests from households and businesses to defer loan repayments due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, bank CEOs warn that despite being well-capitalised, the sector will need to be very selective with regard to the businesses that it chooses to assist, and those that are already failing cannot expect to receive a financial lifeline. Reserve Bank of Australia board member Ian Harper notes that the crisis has provided banks with an opportunity to redeem themselves following the revelations of misconduct exposed by the Hayne royal commission.

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RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA

Nearly nine-in-ten Australians (85%) think the worst is yet to come over the next month in regards to COVID-19

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 31-Mar-20

Nearly nine-in-ten Australians (85%) say the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month in regards to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic; however only 43% of Australians agree that the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well, according to a special Roy Morgan web survey of an Australia-wide cross-section of 988 Australians aged 18+ conducted over the weekend of March 28-29. Australians are more pessimistic than their counterparts in the UK, with 82% of Britons answering that the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month. While only 43% of Australians agree that the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well, the result in the UK is slightly higher at 49%. Interviewing in the UK was conducted on the prior weekend of March 18-20, with a UK-wide cross-section of 2,094 respondents aged 18+ by the London-based ORB International, which is the UK Member of the Gallup International Association and affiliated with Roy Morgan. It is important to compare the Australian and United Kingdom results, as both countries are facing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which poses a threat to livelihoods. Australia and the UK share a similar culture so these questions will be repeated in both Australia and the UK over the coming weeks.

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ROY MORGAN LIMITED, ORB INTERNATIONAL

Federal Government offers $130b in coronavirus wage subsidies for businesses to pay workers

Original article by Brett Worthington
abc.net.au – Page: Online : 31-Mar-20

Prime Minister Scott Morrison expects about six million Australians to access the federal government’s JobKeeper payment. He says there will be a legal obligation on employers to pass the full wage subsidy of up to $1,500 per fortnight on to employees. Morrison adds that unlike the UK wage subsidy, it is aimed at keeping people in jobs rather than targeting workers who have been stood down. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the subsidy equates to about 70 per cent of the median wage and around 100 per cent of the median wage for sectors that have been impacted the most by the coronavirus pandemic.

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AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY

WA’s FIFO ban a blow for resources giants

Original article by Brad Thompson, Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 22 : 31-Mar-20

Workers from interstate account for about 3,000 of the 45,000 people in Western Australia’s resources sector who are on fly-in, fly-out arrangements. FIFO workers from interstate are currently exempt from a 14-day coronavirus quarantine period, but the Chamber of Minerals & Energy of WA has told its members that the state government is likely to remove this exemption within days. The Queensland and South Australian governments are also tipped to scrap the exemption for FIFO workers who cross state borders.

CORPORATES
THE CHAMBER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA INCORPORATED, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG, WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LIMITED – ASX WPL, NEWCREST MINING LIMITED – ASX NCM, CHEVRON CORPORATION