Press digest australian business news april 12

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Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (this site)John Borghetti, chief executive of Virgin Australia , yesterday completed his reshuffle of the airline's corporate hierarchy with customer experience and brand management merged into a single role. Mark Hassell, a former executive at British Airways and Qantas Airways will oversee the merged portfolio, while a new executive position has been created to lead the sales team. Page 23.- - - - The investment company owned by the Belgiorno-Nettis family, Transfield Holdings, has been interviewing candidates to run the firm as brothers Guido and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis prepare to take a less active role in management. Tony Shepherd, chairman of Transfield Services, one of Transfield Holdings' investments, however, said the company was not searching for a new chief executive to replace Peter Goode. Page 25.- - - - Energy Resources of Australia yesterday painted a bright long-term picture for uranium yesterday at its annual general meeting. Rob Atkinson, chief executive of the miner, will brief investors in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia next week while hosting a site visit later this year to demonstrate the company's opportunities for growth. "It is important for investors and analysts to see what it looks like on the ground," Mr Atkinson said. Page 25.- - - - Shareholders in financially strapped firm Apex Minerals have approved the elevation of Ed Eshuys, a veteran of the gold industry, as the company's executive chairman in a bid to restore the company's capital. Mr Eshuys has pledged to concentrate on increasing reserves at the company's Wiluna venture, with shareholders voting to award him 225 million performance rights and 375 million performance rights in Drummond Mining if 100,000 ounces of gold at a spot price of A$1100 an ounce are mined in the 2014 financial year. Page 25.- - - - THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, yesterday called on the Reserve Bank of Australia to reduce interest rates, saying that it was necessary for business given the recent drop in consumer spending. The lobbying comes as the futures market predicts the central bank to reduce rates by 25 basis points next month. Page 19.

- - - - The group executive of business banking at National Australia Bank, Joseph Healy, yesterday said in an address that local businesses were "sitting on their hands" instead of investing for the future. "The implications for the economy of the ongoing deleveraging and the underinvestment, beyond the resources sector, could potentially be profound in years to come," Mr Healy added. Page 19.- - - - Global miner BHP Billiton has green-lit US$708 million in funding for the second stage of the Mad Dog venture in the Gulf of Mexico. The project is mainly owned by global oil and gas conglomerate BP, with BHP holding a 23.9 percent stake. "The extension of this field will underpin continued valuable liquids production from the Gulf of Mexico and further enhance our growth profile," Michael Yeager, chief executive of petroleum at BHP, said. Page 20.- - - - Iron ore producer Sundance Resources yesterday said it believes it will receive final clearances from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon governments in around a fortnight for its multi-billion-dollar Mbalam venture. The acceptance will allow Sundance to move forward on a A$1.65 billion ($1.70 billion) takeover offer from Chinese peer Hanlong Mining. Page 20.- - - -

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)The Westpac Melbourne Institute yesterday announced in its latest report that consumer confidence had slumped by 1.6 percent last month due to increasing concerns about household finances and job security. The survey's results have been described as a "disturbing" development by analysts. "The results of this survey should be sending a very clear message to the Reserve Bank [of Australia] that Australia needs lower interest rates," Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac Banking Corporation, said. Page B1.- - - - A report from investment bank Goldman Sachs has found that local investors have turned off property shares, with foreign investors and offshore superannuation funds becoming the largest net buyers of local real estate investment trusts since late last year. "Domestic investors turned net sellers again, meaning they have been net sellers every month since September 2011," the report said. Page B3.- - - - Aluminium producer Alcoa yesterday announced an unexpected profit for the first quarter of the year yesterday, but chief executive Klaus Kleinfield added that the result did not necessarily bring good tidings for the company's smelter in Point Henry, Victoria. "The 530,000 tonnes that we have taken offline may not be the end ... we continue to look at our Point Henry smelter in Australia, which is very high on the cost curve for a whole host of reasons," Mr. Kleinfield said. The plant employs around 600 workers. Page B3.

- - - - Retailing baron Solomon Lew yesterday had his legal counsel ask the Victorian Supreme Court to suppress reporting on a battle over tens of millions of dollars in a A$621 million family trust fund. The attempt follows a similarly unsuccessful bid by mining magnate Gina Rinehart to block the publication of details about her bitter family feud, which is currently before the New South Wales Supreme Court. Page B3.- - - - THE AGE (this site)The local division of stockbroker Morgan Stanley Smith Barney yesterday announced a A$28.2 million loss for the previous calendar year, despite booking a 23 percent increase in brokerage revenue to A$100.5 million. "We had a good year, even in relation to the challenges of the 2011 for us and the rest of the industry," Harry Parkinson, head of the local operation, said. Page B3.- - - - Telstra is suing the state of Queensland to nullify a two-year-old land regulation on the grounds that it violates federal law and that it discriminates against telecommunications companies. "The rent which the Department of Environment and Resource Management now charges telecommunications carriers for land used for communications sites is significantly higher than rent charged to other Crown land users for other comparable sites," a spokeswoman for the telecommunications giant said. Page B3.- - - - Shares in Flinders Mines plunged by 9.09 percent to A22.5 cents yesterday after a trading halt was lifted on the iron ore junior. The company is facing a A$554 million takeover offer from Russian steel manufacturer Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK), but the process was halted after a minority shareholder secured an injunction in a Russian court preventing MMK from going ahead with the bid. Page B4.- - - - The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 1.1 percent down at 4246.4 points after a poor day's trading by the major miners and other resources stocks. The majority of the sharemarket's top 20 stocks finished in the red, with QBE Insurance falling by 3.3 percent to A$13.45 and financial stocks AMP and Macquarie Group each closing more than 3 percent down. Page B8.- - - -