Westpac retreats from financial advice

Original article by James Frost
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 16 : 20-Mar-19

Westpac will cease serving its existing personal financial advice customers at the end of June, after striking a deal with Viridian to exit the sector. Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer concedes that its personal finance advice business has not been profitable for some time, and increased regulation was a major factor in its decision to withdraw from the sector. Westpac faces restructuring costs of $250m to $300m, while about 900 full-time equivalent employees will be impacted by the decision to exit financial advice. Westpac expects the move to result in annual savings of $280m by 2020.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, VIRIDIAN ADVISORY PTY LTD

CBA shelves wealth sale on Hayne hit

Original article by Richard Gluyas
The Australian – Page: 21 & 25 : 15-Mar-19

The Commonwealth Bank has advised that the divestment of its wealth and mortgage broking assets has been put on hold to allow it to focus on implementing the Hayne royal commission’s recommendations and its customer remediation program. National Australia Bank also recently indicated that it will postpone its proposed demerger of wealth manager MLC due to the fallout from the royal commission.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY, COLONIAL FIRST STATE GROUP LIMITED, COLONIAL FIRST STATE GLOBAL ASSET MANAGEMENT, FINANCIAL WISDOM LIMITED, COUNT FINANCIAL LIMITED, AUSSIE HOME LOANS LIMITED, MLC LIMITED, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, IOOF HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX IFL, MITSUBISHI UFJ TRUST AND BANKING INCORPORATION, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC

S&P cuts AMP rating, more action to come

Original article by James Frost
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 : 5-Mar-19

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded AMP’s credit rating from ‘A’ to ‘A-‘ in the wake of the wealth manager’s decision to sell its life insurance arm. S&P has flagged the potential for a further downgrade once the sale is completed, noting that the deal will affect AMP’s creditworthiness. Rival ratings agency Moody’s Investor Services recently downgraded the credit rating of AMP Life after it posted a 2018 operating loss of $176m.

CORPORATES
AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP, AMP LIFE LIMITED, STANDARD AND POOR’S FINANCIAL SERVICES LLC, MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE INCORPORATED, AMP BANK LIMITED, RESOLUTION LIFE GROUP LIMITED, CREDIT SUISSE (AUSTRALIA) LIMITED

Fairfax regional papers to be sold by mid-year

Original article by Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 21 : 22-Feb-19

Nine Entertainment Company has advised that prospective buyers are undertaking due diligence on its Australian Community Media business, and a deal should be finalised by mid-2019. Formerly owned by Fairfax Media, ACM comprises more than 170 community and regional newspapers. Nine has also commenced the sale process for its New Zealand division, Stuff, as well as its events business.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA, STUFF LIMITED, MACQUARIE GROUP LIMITED – ASX MQG, ALLEGRO FUNDS PTY LTD, ANCHORAGE CAPITAL PARTNERS PTY LTD, PLATINUM EQUITY HOLDINGS, DOMAIN HOLDINGS AUSTRALIA LIMITED – ASX DHA

Private equity funds size up regional titles

Original article by Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 24 : 4-Feb-19

Allegro Funds, Anchorage Capital and Platinum Equity are said to be the leading contenders to acquire Nine Entertainment Company’s portfolio of regional newspapers, which it inherited via the merger with Fairfax Media. Independent expert Grant Samuel had valued Fairfax’s Australian Community Media division at $100m to $120m in 2018, and the business generates EBITDA of around $52m a year. Nine is also believed to be looking to sell Fairfax’s New Zealand business, Stuff.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA, ALLEGRO FUNDS PTY LTD, ANCHORAGE CAPITAL PARTNERS PTY LTD, PLATINUM EQUITY HOLDINGS, STUFF LIMITED, RURAL PRESS LIMITED, APOLLO GLOBAL MANAGEMENT LLC, MACQUARIE CAPITAL PTY LTD, TPG CAPITAL LP, GRANT SAMUEL AND ASSOCIATES PTY LTD, JEFFERIES AND COMPANY, HT&E LIMITED – ASX HT1, NZME LIMITED – ASX NZM, MACQUARIE MEDIA LIMITED – ASX MRN

CBA dividend cut on the cards as sell-offs create an earnings hole

Original article by Misa Han
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 21 : 22-Jan-19

Richard Wiles of Morgan Stanley suggests that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia may have to reduce its dividend payout ratio following a series of asset sales. CBA exited the life insurance sector in 2018 and secured a deal to sell Colonial First State Global Asset Management. It also proposed to spin-off its wealth management and mortgage broking operations. CBA paid a fully franked full-year dividend of $4.31 per share in fiscal 2018, an increase of $0.02.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, MORGAN STANLEY AUSTRALIA LIMITED, COLONIAL FIRST STATE GLOBAL ASSET MANAGEMENT, COLONIAL FIRST STATE GROUP LIMITED, COUNT FINANCIAL LIMITED, FINANCIAL WISDOM LIMITED, AUSSIE HOME LOANS LIMITED, COUNTPLUS LIMITED – ASX CUP, MORTGAGE CHOICE LIMITED – ASX MOC, SOCIETYONE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Offers flood in as South32 readies for South Africa coal exit

Original article by Paul Garvey
The Australian – Page: 15 & 16 : 18-Jan-19

Diversified miner South32 expects final bids for its South African thermal coal assets to be submitted by the end of July. CEO Graham Kerr says the assets have attracted strong interest from potential bidders, and this is likely to result in 2-3 firm offers. Meanwhile, South32 has advised that CFO Brendan Harris has become its chief marketing officer, while Katie Tovich in turn has been appointed CFO.

CORPORATES
SOUTH32 LIMITED – ASX S32, ALUMINA LIMITED – ASX AWC, ALCOA INCORPORATED, WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED – ASX WHC

Sign of the times as Fairfax goes

Original article by Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 13 & 14 : 9-Jan-19

Nine Entertainment Company has confirmed that it is seeking a buyer for Fairfax Media’s events business, which has been valued at between $24m and $32m by Macquarie Group. Meanwhile, Nine has begun the process of phasing out the Fairfax Media brand; workers have used black plastic sheeting to cover the Fairfax signage on the newspaper publisher’s headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont. Some Fairfax staff were recently relocated to Nine’s offices in the Sydney CBD in the wake of the $4.2bn merger.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, EURO PROPERTIES, SYDNEY CITY COUNCIL, SPORTS MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT 360, NINE LIVE PTY LTD, AFFINITY EQUITY PARTNERS (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD, GOOGLE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Seven ponders WA regional paper sale

Original article by Max Mason
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 15 : 17-Dec-18

Seven West Media has declined to comment on speculation that it may seek a buyer for some of its regional newspapers in Western Australia. News Corp Australia and Nine Entertainment Company are also believed to be interested in divesting some regional newspapers, and industry insiders say there could be potential for a single buyer to acquire assets from all three companies given that the newspapers have limited geographic overlap.

CORPORATES
SEVEN WEST MEDIA LIMITED – ASX SWM, NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, NEWS CORPORATION – ASX NWS, NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, WEST REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA, AUSTRALIAN REGIONAL MEDIA, HT&E LIMITED – ASX HT1, CITIGROUP PTY LTD, ALLEGRO FUNDS PTY LTD, ANCHORAGE CAPITAL PARTNERS PTY LTD, TPG CAPITAL LP, DOMAIN HOLDINGS AUSTRALIA LIMITED – ASX DHA

AMP CEO De Ferrari won’t get a new life insurance deal

Original article by Misa Han
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 15 : 6-Dec-18

Merlon Capital is among the AMP shareholders that oppose the sale of its life insurance business. However, AMP CEO Francesco De Ferrari says the $3.3bn deal will proceed, arguing that the wealth manager lacks the global scale to compete with much larger international rivals in the life insurance sector. De Ferrari has also expressed support for AMP’s vertically integrated business model, but says this will be unwound if the final report of the financial services commission recommends it.

CORPORATES
AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY, CREDIT SUISSE AG, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, MERLON CAPITAL PARTNERS PTY LTD