Google hit for billions but EU chief regrets not going harder

Original article by Zoe Samios
The Australian – Page: 4 : 12-Dec-19

The federal government will release details of its formal response to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry on 12 December. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says the government is working through its response to issues raised by the ACCC. Meanwhile, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says that in retrospective she would have taken a "bolder" approach to the anti-trust case against Google. The digital giant was fined more than EUR8bn.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS, AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION AND CONSUMER COMMISSION, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, EUROPEAN COMPETITION COMMISSION, GOOGLE INCORPORATED, FACEBOOK INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT, AUSTRALIAN COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA AUTHORITY, SEVEN WEST MEDIA LIMITED – ASX SWM, PRIME MEDIA GROUP LIMITED – ASX PRT

Leaders say fiscal stimulus is the answer

Original article by James Thomson, Tony Boyd
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 13 & 27 : 10-Dec-19

Tax cuts and increased spending on infrastructure are among the suggestions from business leaders to help stimulate the Australian economy. Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques has urged the federal government to revive its push for corporate tax relief, while Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman has called for the introduction of an investment allowance to boost business confidence. Meanwhile, Telstra CEO Andy Penn has stressed the importance of innovation to Australia’s future economic growth.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LIMITED – ASX WPL, TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX TLS, COCA-COLA AMATIL LIMITED – ASX CCL, BENDIGO AND ADELAIDE BANK LIMITED – ASX BEN, ENERGYAUSTRALIA PTY LTD, MACQUARIE GROUP LIMITED – ASX MQG, SEEK LIMITED – ASX SEK, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY

Investment strike keeps growth low

Original article by Glenda Korporaal
The Australian – Page: 17 & 27 : 5-Dec-19

Commonwealth Bank economist Michael Blythe says the latest GDP data shows that Australia has a two-speed economy, with private sector spending down 0.1 per cent in the September quarter and 0.3 per cent year-on-year, while public sector spending increased by 1.1 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively. Master Builders Australia has urged the federal government to fast-track smaller infrastructure projects, with chief economist Shane Garrett noting that businesses and consumers lack the confidence to spend at present.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, MASTER BUILDERS AUSTRALIA INCORPORATED, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, BUSINESS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA, WAGNERS HOLDING COMPANY LIMITED – ASX WGN

Coalition wary of content tax on tech giants

Original article by Leo Shanahan, David Swan
The Australian – Page: 5 : 4-Dec-19

Facebook says it supports 15 of the 29 recommendations in the final report of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry. Facebook also rejects suggestions that it has hired lobbyists to influence the federal government’s response to the report, and states that the ACCC’s proposed code of conduct would "unfairly shield" media companies. Meanwhile, the government is said to be concerned that requiring digital players to pay media companies for the use of their content could be perceived as a new tax, which could in turn prompt digital companies to relocate offshore.

CORPORATES
FACEBOOK INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION AND CONSUMER COMMISSION, GOOGLE INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT

‘QE will do nothing’: fundies back infrastructure spending

Original article by Robert Guy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 28 : 27-Nov-19

Quay Global Investors portfolio manager Chris Bedingfield contends that the Reserve Bank of Australia should not implement quantitative easing. He argues that the federal government should instead prioritise increased spending on infrastructure, noting that this will create jobs in the short-term and boost productivity in the long-term. Sarah Shaw of 4D Infrastructure also advocates investing in infrastructure to stimulate the economy.

CORPORATES
QUAY GLOBAL INVESTORS PTY LTD, 4D INFRASTRUCTURE PTY LTD, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, BENNELONG FUNDS MANAGEMENT PTY LTD

High energy prices force Rio to the table

Original article by Perry Williams
The Australian – Page: 17 & 20 : 26-Nov-19

The future of Rio Tinto’s Tomago, Boyne and Bell Bay aluminium smelters in Australia remains under scrutiny amid high energy prices and weak demand for aluminium. CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques notes that energy costs accounts for a third of the company’s cost structure, adding that energy costs in Australia are very high by global standards. He says Rio Tinto is holding talks with governments at federal and state level regarding energy costs. The future of Alcoa’s Portland smelter in Victoria is also uncertain, with a state government subsidy due to expire in 2021.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, ALCOA OF AUSTRALIA LIMITED, CSR LIMITED – ASX CSR, RUSAL

Westpac execs still in the money

Original article by Richard Gluyas, Joe Kelly
The Australian – Page: 1 & 2 : 25-Nov-19

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has stressed the need for accountability over Westpac’s massive breach of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. He notes that in addition to Austrac’s civil prosecution, there is the potential for Westpac executives and directors to be disqualified under the Banking Executive Accountability Regime. Meanwhile, Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted says executives’ short-term bonuses will be frozen; however, their long-term bonuses are not expected to be affected. Other measures taken by Westpac in response to the scandal include shutting down the LitePay international fund transfer network.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE, AUSTRALIAN PRUDENTIAL REGULATION AUTHORITY

Catalano takes aim at irrelevant rules restricting rural TV

Original article by John Stensholt
The Australian – Page: 24 : 25-Nov-19

Antony Catalano contends that a rule which limits media companies to one TV broadcasting licence in a single market is "antiquated" and "completely outdated". He notes that the so-called ‘one-in-a-market rule’ does not apply to radio stations, newspapers or news websites. Catalano adds that he has discussed the issue with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and is prepared to launch a campaign for reform via Australian Community Media if the federal government does not take action. Catalano and Alex Waislitz bought the regional newspaper business earlier in 2019.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS, SEVEN WEST MEDIA LIMITED – ASX SWM, PRIME MEDIA GROUP LIMITED – ASX PRT, WIN CORPORATION PTY LTD, SOUTHERN CROSS MEDIA GROUP LIMITED – ASX SXL

Lift super to 12pc to defuse age time bomb

Original article by Richard Gluyas
The Australian – Page: 21 : 22-Nov-19

AustralianSuper CEO Ian Silk appeared before federal parliament’s economics committee on 21 November, where he emphasised the need to increase the superannuation guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent. He warned that the legislated increase is necessary to avert the ‘economic time bomb’ of the nation’s ageing population, arguing that the pension system alone is not sufficient to provide Australians with a comfortable retirement. Silk also expressed support for consolidation in the super sector, and the exit of funds that consistently underperform.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIANSUPER PTY LTD, AUSTRALIA. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDING COMMITTEE ON ECONOMICS, INDUSTRY SUPER AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, LIBERAL PARTY OF AUSTRALIA

NAB, ANZ to be grilled over wealth exits

Original article by Aleks Vickovich
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 20 : 15-Nov-19

A federal parliamentary committee is examining the financial services sector’s response to the Hayne royal commission. ANZ Bank CEO Shayne Elliott and National Australia Bank chairman and acting CEO Philip Chronican will appear before the committee on 15 November. Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh, who is the committee’s deputy chairman, says he is concerned about the amount of time the two banks are taking to divest their wealth management units; he says the general public expects the divestments to proceed.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA