South32 poised to exit S African coal assets as profit plunges

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 20 : 23-Aug-19

Diversified miner South32 has posted a 2018-19 statutory net profit of $US389m, which is 71 per cent lower than previously. The result was marred by a $US504m impairment charge associated with its South African thermal coal assets. Underlying earnings fell by 25 per cent to $US992m. Meanwhile, South32 is set to sell its South African coal mines to Seriti Resources, and CEO Graham Kerr has ruled out buying any more thermal coal assets, including BHP’s Mt Arthur mine.

CORPORATES
SOUTH32 LIMITED – ASX S32, SERITI RESORCES, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP

Investors query AMP turnaround

Original article by James Frost
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 & 22 : 9-Aug-19

AMP has announced a loss of $2.3bn for the first half of 2019 and a new strategy to turn around its fortunes. Amongst other things, the wealth manager aims to reduce costs by about $300m a year. AMP has also flagged plans to significantly reduce the number of financial advisers in its network and place more emphasis on so-called roboadvice. AMP will also continue to pursue the sale of its life insurance business to Resolution Life, while it will issue new shares at $1.50 apiece via a $650m capital raising.

CORPORATES
AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP, RESOLUTION LIFE GROUP LIMITED, MERLON CAPITAL PARTNERS PTY LTD, ALLAN GRAY AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Woolies gives up liquor and gambling

Original article by Sue Mitchell
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 18 : 4-Jul-19

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci says the retail giant has been working on the proposed demerger of its liquor and hotels business for more than a year. Endeavour Group will be created via the merger of pubs and poker machines operator ALH Group and Endeavour Drinks, which owns the Dan Murphy’s and BSW liquor chains. Woolworths plans to divest Endeavour Group via a demerger, trade sale or IPO in 2020 and retain a minority stake. Woolworths has attracted criticism over its exposure to poker machines, but Banducci stresses that this was not a driver of the demerger proposal.

CORPORATES
WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED – ASX WOW, ENDEAVOUR GROUP, ALH GROUP LIMITED, DAN MURPHY’S, BWS – BEER WINE SPIRITS, CITIGROUP PTY LTD, UBS HOLDINGS PTY LTD, ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED, LANGTON’S, CELLARMASTER WINES PTY LTD, PINNACLE DRINKS, THE MATHIESON GROUP PTY LTD, BIG W DISCOUNT STORES, THE QUANTIUM GROUP PTY LTD

Nine dices up inherited events arm

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

Sydney’s City2Surf race is among five sports events that the Ironman Group will acquire from Nine Entertainment in a deal worth $31m. Nine will retain about seven of the events that were previously part of Fairfax Media’s events business, including the Night Noodle Markets and Good Food Month. They will be integrated into Nine’s publishing division, while a number of smaller events will be discontinued. Chinese-owned Ironman Group manages more than 230 events in 53 countries.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, IRONMAN GROUP, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, WANDA GROUP, AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA, THORNEY INVESTMENT GROUP AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Nine close to selling Fairfax events business

Original article by Carrie LaFrenz
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 20 : 2-May-19

Nine Entertainment Company is slated to receive final bids for Fairfax Media’s events business within days. Nine CEO Hugh Marks expects a deal to offload the business to be completed shortly. However, he has cautioned that Nine is unlikely to secure a deal to sell Fairfax’s New Zealand division by the end of June. Nine recently secured a deal to sell Fairfax’s portfolio of regional newspapers for $125m. Marks has reiterated Nine’s previous guidance for earnings growth of at least 10 per cent in 2018-19.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, STUFF LIMITED, MACQUARIE MEDIA LIMITED – ASX MRN, METRO MEDIA PUBLISHING PTY LTD, STAN ENTERTAINMENT PTY LTD, WALT DISNEY COMPANY

Catalano swoops on Nine’s regional papers

Original article by John Stensholt, Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 19 & 24 : 1-May-19

Nine Entertainment Company has sold its portfolio of regional newspapers to former Domain Holdings CEO Antony Catalano. He will pay $125m for the assets in partnership with Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Investment Group. Catalano forecasts that the Australian Community Media business will post EBITDA of around $42m in 2018-19 and about $50m in 2019-20. The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance has urged ACM’s new owners to commit to maintaining quality journalism in regional communities. Nine also intends to sell Fairfax Media’s events business and its New Zealand assets.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA, THORNEY INVESTMENT GROUP AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, DOMAIN HOLDINGS AUSTRALIA LIMITED – ASX DHA, MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT AND ARTS ALLIANCE, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, STUFF LIMITED, MORNINGSTAR PTY LTD

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