Connor aims for more best times attrack

A SEASON-BEST in his latest 400m on Bendigo’s track has Shepparton athleteConnor Cudmore keen for more success.
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SPRINT: Connor Cudmore, centre, contests a 100m heat at the Flora Hill track. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

The 16-year-old won his heat in 54.17 seconds.

After crossing the line, abeaming Cudmore pointed to the digits on the electronic board.

“It had been a long time since I had been able to run that fast,” the Bendigo Harriers athlete recalled.

The mark equalled the PB he had set in the early weeks of the 2012-13track and field season at Flora Hill.

Cudmore’s build-up to this season was not easy.

Because his right leg was shorter the teenager’s hips were not aligned.

An operation between school terms one and two this year meant plenty of rest and no training.

Cudmore was back in surgery last week, but is keen to be back on the LUBAC track in Retreat Road as quickly as possible.

The year 10 student at Wanganui Park Secondary College started in littleathletics at Shepparton in the under-6s.

“I used to tag along because my older sister Maddison was doing little athletics.”

It was not long before he was sprinting, hurdling, jumping or throwing.

Connor has great support from parents Annette and Matthew , and Bendigo-based coach Brett Gilligan.

The Cudmores have a three-hour round trip from Grahamvale to Bendigo where Connor trains or competes..

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Network Ten’s Sandra Sully not deterred by thunder during eyewitness news bulletin

Veteran newsreader Sandra Sully has been praised for her composure as a loud thunderclap snapped down during her live bulletin.
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The Sydney storm rattled the Network Ten studios in Pyrmont last Friday as heavy rain brought cloudbursts and lightning strikes.

Sully acknowledged mother nature with a “wow that was a big storm upstairs” but continued on with her update about Friday’s Ashes test at the Gabba.

Sully did apologise for the interruption and had a giggle on set with co-host Matt Burke*.

The State Emergency Service responded to 186 calls for help, mainly in Sydney’s south.

Twitter users were full of praise for her calm response.

Sully was one of the news reporters who calmly delivered the news to Australia of the September 11 attacks in 2001, as they happened.

I haven’t heard thunder like that in a while… And how good did @Sandra_Sully handle it #livetvhttp://t.co/R0kX3YWRxm— Matthew Russell (@matty_russell) November 22, 2013

good on ya @Sandra_Sully , didn’t miss a beat! #eyewitnessnews#thunderhttp://t.co/LseAJ91cOx— Tim Hatfield (@timhatfield87) November 22, 2013

*Corrected

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Bunbury SES join search for missing man near Walpole 

STATE Emergency Services crew from Bunbury and Busseltonwill form a specialist vertical rescue team to join the search for a manmissing near Walpole.
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Walpole Police have serious concerns for a man they believeis missing from a campsite at Aldridge Cove, which is along the NuytsWilderness Track, about 12km west of Walpole.

Three friends arrived in that location on Monday, November18 and camped there for two nights.

They noticed a tent and personal belongings nearby butduring their stay no person returned to the tent.

The group hiked out of the area and returned to Perth onWednesday, November 20.

They raised the alarm with police about 6.20pm on Thursday,November 21.

Police attended the location and despite a search of theimmediate area with the assistance of marine rescue volunteers and Departmentof Parks and Wildlife personnel, no one has been located.

Personal belongings at the scene are believed to belong to aperson called Rowan Cook, however police have not been able to confirm theidentity of this person.

It is possible the person may have been in the area orsurrounding areas any time in the last two months.

Walpole Police would like to speak to anyone that has campedin the Aldridge Cove area in the last two months, anyone that has hiked nearbyand spoken to a person named Rowan, anyone who recognises the camping equipmentpictured and anyone who knows a person by the name Rowan Cook who was intendingto go hiking in that part of the state.

Anyone with information is asked call Crime Stoppers on 1800333 000.

The Walpole campsite investigation.

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Aloisi gets Heart boss’s support

MELBOURNE Heart chief executive Scott Munn says under-fire coach John Aloisi’s job is secure – at least for now.
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The Heart sit bottom of the A-League table after their fifth straight loss, 3-1 to Newcastle on Sunday.

They have gone 12 matches without a win, including five defeats to end last season. But Munn said it would be unfair to single out the second-season coach.

‘‘We are all in this to achieve success,’’ Munn said.

‘‘Whilst John as the head coach is clearly the face of that, we all have a role to play.

‘‘Whether it be me, the football department as a whole, the board, we all have a role to play and we all take responsibility.’’

Munn said Aloisi remained firmly entrenched in the job and the club was giving him all the support they could.

But he was less firm on whether that would continue if the losses mounted in the coming weeks.

Munn said the Heart had been unlucky with injuries early this season.

Captain Harry Kewell hasn’t played since round one because of injuries, although he is expected to return against Adelaide.

Central defender Patrick Kisnorbo returned on Sunday after missing three games with a knee injury.

And marquee signing Orlando Engelaar hasn’t played since breaking a leg in the pre-season.

● Western Sydney marquee man Shinji Ono is expected to miss Sunday’s A-League match against a winless Wellington with a groin strain.

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has rated the Japanese star a 50-50 chance for the away clash at Westpac Stadium, but insisted the injury, sustained in the 3-1 loss to ladder leaders Brisbane on Friday, was not serious.

Ono was substituted before half-time as a precaution after complaining of tightness in his groin.

‘‘‘It’s not a serious injury, which is great. At best, he’s 50-50 for that match,’’ Popovic said. AAP

Heart coach John Aloisi.

Clubs welcome back Friday footy

FRIDAY night football will return next year as top-tier Northern NSW clubs enter the National Premier Leagues.
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Edgeworth will host the Newcastle Jets Youth on Friday, April 4 to kick off the inaugural Northern NSW Football conference.

It is part of five Friday games the Eagles and Lambton Jaffas will host between them over the opening five rounds.

Edgeworth will welcome Charlestown and Lambton will host Weston in round three on Good Friday, April 18.

The Jaffas will host defending premiers Broadmeadow the following Friday and Edgeworth will finish the Friday night run in round five against Weston at Jack McLaughlan Oval.

Eagles supremo Warren Mills said the change from four grades to three on the senior schedule made a Friday night return possible.

The Eagles regularly held Friday night games early each season before under 17s became part of match day three seasons ago.

Next year, first grade, under 22s and under 19s will make up the senior schedule. In 2014, under 17s will join the youth program, which will include the introduction of teams from Football Mid North Coast.

Mills said the club has had success with Friday night football and welcomed the opportunity to bring it back.

‘‘While the weather’s warm, we think it’s great to have a Friday night game,’’ Mills said.

‘‘Maybe your canteen is not as big, but you hope a few more people come along to have a look.

‘‘Friday night is a good night to come out and watch football.’’

The Eagles, meanwhile, shrugged off the disappointment of losing Alex Palozzi to the Jaffas with the signing of Bray Smith from Lake Macquarie.

Mills said the club was still on the lookout for a striker after the loss of Joel Wood and Chris Wheeler’s expected return to the US.

Midfielder David Dodd is also a likely loss due to work.

Report finds companies with directors holding stock had better returns

Illustration: John Spooner.Suncorp’s surprise announcement last month that directors would need to own more than $200,000 of the company’s stock is likely to spark a trend as new data reveals directors with ”skin in the game” generally outperform – by a lot.
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A new report by Macquarie Equities, Board Matters, found that companies that had directors holding stock had better shareholder returns and return on equity. Using a long-short back-test analysis, it found that return on equity was 13.7 percentage points higher and relative share price outperformance was 8 per cent.

It is a fascinating concept and if it gains traction could prompt investors to push for more boards to put their money where their mouths are and better align themselves. The percentage of ownership for the independent directors is less than 1 per cent, on average.

There has been a lot of discussion about executive pay, but as one corporate governance expert said: ”What about getting directors motivated to get out of bed in the morning?” He makes a good point because boards are the guardians of shareholder interests. To this end they act on behalf of shareholders to supervise the company. This means having oversight of overall strategy, the use of capital, appointing the chief executive and signing off the financial accounts.

The Macquarie Equities report examines the boards of the top 100 companies over five years, from 2008 to 2013, and tests various board characteristics, including age, tenure, diversity, number of board seats and ownership of shares.

The report comes as the annual reporting season draws to a close. This season has been relatively quiet compared with previous years, with only a few companies attracting controversy, including David Jones, Aurizon, CSL and Southern Cross Media, which incurred a strike on its remuneration report. At a time when Southern Cross chairman Max Moore-Wilton and chief executive Rhys Holleran told the market they were focusing on ”cost control”, Holleran received a 38 per cent increase in his base pay.

But the most controversial was David Jones, with almost 40 per cent of shareholders voting against the remuneration report to send a message to the board that they were not happy with a string of recent events, including its handling of the announced resignation of the chief executive and the purchase of shares by two directors just three days before the company told the market its first-quarter sales results were better than expected.

The shares soared 6 per cent when the sales results were released, which attracted a lot of anger about the director trades. The corporate regulator is now looking into the trades. While directors of David Jones were putting some skin in the company, their timing attracted criticism.

In Suncorp’s case, it has given directors four years to comply with the new policy, which involves directors being asked to buy a minimum number of shares that equate to their base director fees.

Besides the positive correlation between skin in the game and performance, the Macquarie Equities report made some interesting observations about Australian boardrooms post-2008. ”The typical ASX100 boardroom in Australia is comprised of eight individuals that have served on the board for 5.3 years. The percentage of independent directors is slightly higher at 75 per cent and the average age of those directors is now just over 59,” the report says.

It also finds a positive relationship between board tenure and return on equity and a negative relationship with the ”busyness” of directors and return on equity.

Board tenure is expected to become a hot topic following recent proposed amendments to the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations, which included adding tenure as a marker for a director’s independence. In a set of draft proposals released in August it suggested being on the board for more than nine years should be an indicator a director may not be ”independent”.

If it comes into practice ASX companies will have to explain why they are not conforming. Macquarie estimates that almost a third of the ASX 100 companies have two or more directors that have served on the board more than nine years.

Interestingly, the Macquarie analysis shows the average tenure of a board member serving in 2012 was 5.3 years for the ASX100. This is down from 5.9 years in 2009.

”In our analysis, companies that have independent directors that have served for a longer period on the board had a superior ROE compared to those boards with shorter tenure using the five-year test period. This could indicate that corporate memory and experience can enhance returns.” But at the end of the day statistics are useful but it boils down to the individual and how effective they are.

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GVK and Hancock Prospecting have scaled down plans for a Queensland rail line

Off track: Queensland rail project is scaled back. Photo: Rob HomerThe weak coal market has forced promoters of a multibillion-dollar rail project in Queensland to adopt a more limited plan, with common user access, to get it off the ground.
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The Hancock Prospecting-GVK partnership wants to link several coal projects it hopes to develop in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland to the Abbot Point coal port. But the downturn in steaming coal prices and demand has forced it to scale back plans amid widespread caution prices and volumes might remain subdued for some time.

As a result, initial plans to develop a dedicated rail line have shifted to establishing an open-access link that will also use an existing rail line along a large part of its route to further lower costs.

From an initial $10 billion project to ship an estimated 60 million tonnes of coal annually, the cost of the more limited plan has been put at $6 billion, with the intention of lifting line capacity and potential volumes, if and when needed.

Even with the reduced scope there is ongoing doubt when the project will get off the ground, although developing a more muted start-up option gives the project a greater chance.

Open access also means that the promoters of other coalmines in the region, such as Clive Palmer’s China First project, could use the link if it goes ahead.

On Monday, Aurizon and GVK Hancock agreed initially to build only 300 kilometres of the 500 kilometres of a rail corridor the promoters sought originally.

The agreement also sees GVK Hancock abandon plans for a greenfield link from Collinsville to Abbot Point, instead using Aurizon’s link between these two.

GVK and Hancock are expected to be cornerstone investors in the rail link, but with the finer points of their proposal yet to be fleshed out.

”This will also allow a phased development at the Abbot Point T3 terminal to match volumes and ramp-up, thereby materially reducing the initial cost of infrastructure,” the two groups said in a joint statement on Monday.

Initially, the new line will be built to narrow-gauge specification to carry trains of up to 25,000 tonnes, with the option to consider an expansion to a full greenfield line (narrow or standard gauge) if tonnages increase sufficiently to justify the extra investment.

The link is aimed at a ”staged consolidation of tonnes from multiple miners in the Galilee and the Bowen Basins”, the two groups said.

Earlier this year Aurizon said it would acquire 51 per cent of Hancock Coal Infrastructure, the entity that owns GVK Hancock’s rail and port projects, committing an unspecified amount of funds upfront, along with paying a deferred consideration at financial close of each phase of the projects.

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Gina Rinehart launches National Mining and Related Industries Day

How did the Australian media miss such a momentous event?
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Aussie billionaire and Fairfax shareholder Gina Rinehart launched November 22 as the inaugural National Mining and Related Industries Day at the Hilton in BrisVegas on Friday.

”We are here today to celebrate an industry group that is too often shy about speaking of its efforts and contributions,” Mrs Rinehart said in a prepared script.

Her message was that miners should not be meek and mild – you know, like when they went into combat against the mining tax.

”As a collective, we seem to prefer to stay ‘beneath the radar’ for fear of attracting too much of the wrong attention – and waking up the inevitable ‘tall-poppy hit squad’!”

Don’t for a second think the National Mining and Related Industries Day committee is some Mickey Mouse operation. Former BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus is on the board to celebrate all things mining. So is Linc Energy CEO, and minor squillionaire, Peter Bond.

Gina’s gift ideas

In a separate speech that day, Mrs Rinehart gave the assembled throng some Christmas shopping tips that would help build the next generation of government-handout-hating entrepreneurs.

”When you think of Christmas gifts this year, give the gift that will keep on giving. For children, may I suggest giving a good book?” she says.

Recommendations included titles championing personal toil and initiative such as The Little Red Hen, and the Norah of Billabong series. She read the latter as a young girl at the family’s Hamersley Station in Western Australia.

For older kids she recommended authors such as Ayn Rand – the doyen of liberty and free enterprise who authored Atlas Shrugged – and Milton Friedman who taught her ”there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

For the attention-challenged modern generation, Atlas Shrugged is available on DVD. Although it does include the lesson that not all hard work leads to success.

Atlas Shrugged Part 1 & 2 bombed at the box office, taking in a combined $US8 million, but the final part of the trilogy is still in the works, apparently, with a release date last touted for the middle of next year.

Cheesy season

Canadian dairy company Saputo appears to be using its proximity to the North Pole to beat out Aussie suitors for the hand of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter.

Saputo boss Lino Saputo jnr says it is offering WBC shareholders a chance to cash in before Christmas with a 20¢ sweetener if its bid hits 50 per cent acceptance. ”It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been called Santa Clause,” he joked to reporters.

Cheesy? Yes. And not as colourful as rival suitor Murray Goulburn. Its chief, Gary Helou, joked to investors about the ”rip-roaring” dairy growth in China and the market’s strong appetite for powder. ”No matter how much you put on the market they just suck it up,” he told investors on Friday.

Free TV advice

The commercial television networks have a problem and pay TV peddler – Foxtel chief Richard Freudenstein – is trying to break it to them gently.

In a speech railing against government over-regulation – and the commercial broadcasters’ getting the rub of the green in areas such as anti-siphoning – Freudenstein used the widely used ”yes/no” addiction test to determine if the networks had a problem.

Do you use media regulation to help you cope with problems? Do you abuse more than one media regulation at a time? You get the drift.

The networks were quick to slap back via Free TV Australia chairman Harold Mitchell, who pinned Foxtel on its aversion to fees for retransmitting Seven, Nine and Ten’s, network signal. ”It’s curious that they find the concept so offensive here, when Fox and CBS have led the US charge for retransmission fees,” he says of the US television assets owned by Foxtel’s former parent, 21st Century Fox.

Got a tip?

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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Dick Smith float a commercial riddle that doesn’t compute

$520m riddle: Dick Smith. Photo: Glenn HuntThe float of Dick Smith in early December doesn’t stack up – or at least the $520 million price tag doesn’t. It just doesn’t sound credible to make a three-plus bagger return on an investment held for only a year. On Tuesday morning the Woolworths boss Grant O’Brien, who sold the consumer electronics business to private equity group Anchorage for $94 million, will be asked by his shareholders to explain that commercial riddle.
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He either has to try for a mea culpa suggesting Woolworths potentially left more than $400 million on the table because it was incapable of running a consumer electronics chain or had taken its eye off the ball – or a combination of the above.

O’Brien could take some of the heat out of the debate by questioning the value of the upcoming sale by Anchorage. This isn’t really politics and it’s not playing nice but it is a fair call.

Woolworths undoubtedly did a lousy job selling Dick Smith. It took nine months from announcement to execution and the initial sale price was $20 million but with a potential upside kicker that ultimately dragged up the total by $74 million. (Woolworths could have got more still had it stuck to the original formula to receive upside based on the value of the upcoming IPO.)

O’Brien will probably stick to his existing line that the company is one that operates in big-volume markets with broad-based merchandise – and the smaller specialty businesses like Dick Smith don’t fit that cookie cutter.

(This line could expose Woolworths to questions about why its Masters homeware and hardware start-up has been a disappointment from an executional and a financial standpoint.)

He would be closer the mark to say that the consumer electronics business market is really difficult and the potential rainmakers from inside Woolworths were never going to aspire to climb the Dick Smith ladder. Ambitious managers with talent in Woolworths need to show how to sell groceries, fresh food and liquor – and how to better data mine their customers.

Several years of lacklustre performance from Dick Smith under the ownership of Woolworths exaggerated attention on the group’s shortcomings and its inability to resuscitate a difficult business. And it’s worth noting that retail department stores (another form of retail conglomerates) have had similar troubles. Myer has been edging out of some consumer electronic categories and David Jones is in the process of installing Dick Smith as a concession to take it out of direct sales. It is a category that has been more structurally challenged by the internet than most.

This brings us to the Dick Smith IPO listing. The more nimble specialists with plenty of incentive to heap attention on consumer electronics are going to do it better than companies like Woolworths, Myer and David Jones and discount department stores like Target, Big W and Kmart. But a turnaround of the magnitude suggested by the value of the Dick Smith IPO is not plausible. Even if one takes into consideration better supply chain, IT and inventory management, new product releases and more focused management, it doesn’t account for a three-fold increase in value.

On a like-for-like basis (i.e. a same-store basis) Dick Smith revenue projections contained in the prospectus will not improve in the first year housed in a stand-alone public structure. There are some gains to be made by better gross margins and cost take-out but again not enough to explain the three-fold turnaround in value. It will achieve revenue gains by better internet sales and a turbo-boosted rollout of additional physical stores. In 2014, as a listed company, Dick Smith says profits will be a bit more than twice that made in 2012 – the last year under the stewardship of Woolworths.

If the IPO is to succeed and for the after-market to hand new investors a profit two sets of tailwinds need to be blustering. The first is a pick-up in consumer sentiment, the second is a sustained rise in the equity market.

At this point the latter is more likely. Anchorage has stated its intention to retain a 20 per cent stake in Dick Smith until June next year. It’s the sort of gesture that IPO investors are now demanding to avoid the Myer curse that took place a few years ago after its private equity owners sold out completely, earnings forecasts fell short and the shares tanked.

Nine’s major hedge fund shareholders have had to retain about one-third of their stock for a year or more to get the float away next month. But there is a sting in the tail. It is the overhang that will stay around until these unnatural shareholders exit their stock.

But back to Woolworths. O’Brien will just have to wear some heat on some retail brand mistakes, just as Wesfarmers’ Richard Goyder spends so much time justifying why it puts up with the troubled Target.

But in the end the performance of Woolworths is all about selling food and liquor and the most recent quarterly figures were good.

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Commonwealth Property Office Fund pulls takeover deal

Commonwealth Property Office Fund has pulled a deal giving Dexus Property Group and its Canadian pension fund partner the right to exclusive takeover talks following last week’s blockbuster $3 billion offer for the fund by GPT Group.
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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Dexus lost exclusive access to negotiations in their bid for Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s listed office trust, a move that opens the door for others including offshore players to mount a competing offer for one of the nation’s biggest office landlords.

The property fund’s manager, Commonwealth Managed Investments, ended the exclusive talks after Dexus and CPPIB did not raise their $2.8 billion bid in response to GPT’s competing proposal.

Monday’s announcement allows GPT to begin discussions on the fund as it fights Dexus for control of the $3.8 billion of office buildings the fund, known as CPA, holds in Australia’s largest cities. This puts GPT’s chief Michael Cameron – a former executive with Commonwealth Bank – in the box seat for one of Australia’s biggest property deals since the global financial crisis.

Dexus, which in July agreed to buy a 14.9 per cent stake of CPA, said last week it would not back GPT’s offer and was refusing to sell its shares to its rival.

CPA’s manager has invited Dexus and its Canadian partner to continue due diligence on the office assets, Dexus said in a statement. ”The consortium has accepted that invitation and entered into a further confidentiality agreement,” it said.

CPA’s manager ”shouldn’t remain in exclusive discussions with one party when there’s another proposal on the table”, spokeswoman Penny Berger said. Ending the agreement allowed the fund’s manager ”to discuss the proposal with GPT, which they haven’t been able to do until now”, she said.

GPT, whose biggest shareholder is Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Limited, may not be the only party interested in gatecrashing the deal with Dexus and Canada Pension Plan Investment, according to Stuart Cartledge, managing director of fund manager Phoenix Portfolios.

GPT’s takeover bid had opened up the whole process, Mr Cartledge said. ”Dexus were heading down the path of locking everyone out. I suspect we’ll get a bid from someone we’ve never heard of from offshore.”

CPA shares were unchanged at $1.265 at close of trade. Dexus shares rose 1.6 per cent to close at $1.062, and GPT were up 2.8 per cent to $3.66.

But as GPT and Dexus directors battle it out, more mergers and acquisitions are expected.

The sale of a 20 per cent stake in Australand by CapitaLand makes the former a more likely target. Another potential target is Investa Office.

With agencies

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Banks restrict loans in risky mining towns

Banks are reining in home lending to investors in resource sector hot spots, as lower spending by miners hits regional property markets and prompts banks to reassess their exposure.
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Two of the country’s biggest banks, Commonwealth and ANZ, have in recent weeks curbed riskier lending in areas that rely on resource industries.

The moves follow sharp falls in rents in mining hubs, at a time when regulators have urged banks to maintain prudent credit standards in the $1.2 trillion mortgage market.

In changes that took effect on Monday, Commonwealth Bank will cap at 8 per cent the rental yield it factors in for new property investment loans in mining towns.

Explaining the policy to mortgage brokers, the bank said rental yields in some mining areas were ”not sustainable” and it was minimising the risk of borrowers defaulting.

It comes after ANZ added Queensland resources hub Gladstone and mining-exposed towns Chinchilla and Blackwater to a list of higher-risk postcodes.

Areas on the list – all in Queensland and Western Australia – face an 80 per cent cap on loan-to-valuation ratios for new loans to property investors, while rental yields are capped at 10 per cent when the bank is assessing eligibility for credit.

An ANZ spokesman, Stephen Ries, confirmed ANZ was applying ”an extra level of caution” to lending in some mining areas under a policy introduced earlier this year.

Towns that may be affected by the policy were heavily reliant on one mine, or had experienced strong growth in housing, he said.

”We are continuing to lend in these towns and since this policy was introduced in January the majority of applications have been approved,” he said.

ANZ and Commonwealth Bank’s moves to tighten credit criteria come as banks face pressure to limit higher-risk lending at a time of record-low borrowing costs.

Managing director of mortgage broker Homeloanexperts南京夜网.au Otto Dargan said banks had become more conservative in mining areas after realising high rental yields received during the peak of the construction boom were not sustainable.

”During the construction phase, there’s a huge influx of workers so the yields go through the roof, but they can come back down sharply as construction spending declines,” Mr Dargan said. ”I think [the banks] have more exposure to mining towns than they would have liked.”

Among other big lenders, Westpac also has a policy of limiting low-deposit loans in ”single-industry towns”, including those that are dependent on mining.

National Australia Bank does not have a formal policy on the issue, applying the same scrutiny to borrowers in other areas.

While mining towns make up a small share of banks’ outstanding loans, Australian Bureau of Statistics’ figures published last week show the resources boom has caused mortgage lending to skyrocket in several resources hubs.

The area with the fastest-growing mortgage costs between 2006 and 2011 was the Shire of Ashburton, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, where typical monthly repayments leapt by 278.6 per cent, to $954.

The next biggest increase was in Port Hedland, where repayments shot up by 140 per cent to $2600 a month over the same period.

Surging house prices and rents helped drive the rise in lending, but in recent months returns in many mining towns fell due to weaker demand for accommodation.

In the September quarter, rents in Port Hedland fell 10 per cent to $1300 a week and had plunged 35 per cent in annual terms, figures from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia show.

In Gladstone – where several multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas plants are being built – vacancy rates jumped from 0.9 per cent to 5.8 per cent in the year to September, Real Estate Institute of Queensland figures show.

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Saputo chief issues investor call to action on Warrnambool Cheese takeover

Saputo’s chief executive has issued a ”call to action” to Warrnambool Cheese & Butter shareholders, throwing them an extra $10 million in a final effort to clinch control of the company.
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The Canadian dairy behemoth on Monday sweetened its offer for Australia’s oldest-listed dairy processor to $9.20 a share or about $515 million.

But the extra cash will only be paid if Saputo secures more than 50 per cent of Warrnambool shares.

Saputo, which has maintained an unconditional offer of $9, is facing a tough task to secure a majority stake in Warrnambool, with rival bidders Bega and Murray Goulburn owning about 36 per cent of Warrnambool and Japanese food conglomerate Kirin another 10 per cent.

The 20 cent sweetener has effectively replaced a 46 cent special dividend that Warrnambool was going to pay shareholders if Saputo gained 50.1 per cent of the company.

Warrnambool’s board, which continues to endorse Suputo’s offer, also revoked its intention to pay a dividend of 85¢ a share if Saputo snapped up 90 per cent of the company. Warrnambool argued the payments were ”no longer needed”.

Saputo chief executive and vice-chairman Lino Saputo jnr, who is in Melbourne on his third visit to Australia in six weeks, said he was hoping to finalise the deal before Christmas.

”Let’s put things into perspective: we are coming into the holiday period, within five days people can have cash in the bank and enjoy the holidays.

”I think a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush and this, to me, would be a call to action for the shareholders to deposit their shares to Saputo.”

It is a big week for Warrnambool shareholders. Murray Goulburn is holding two public meetings in Warrnambool, western Victoria, and south-east South Australia, while Mr Saputo will visit shareholders in Mount Gambier on Tuesday evening, before making his final pitches to farmer shareholders in Terang and Warrnambool on Wednesday.

Murray Goulburn managing director Gary Helou told the co-operative’s shareholders on Friday that Treasurer Joe Hockey had ”handicapped” its bid of $9 cash a share by giving Saputo foreign investment approval before the Australian Competition Tribunal heard Murray Goulburn’s case – a process that could take up to six months.

However, Mr Saputo said Mr Helou’s comments were confusing.

”We went through the normal process and the normal channels. I don’t quite understand the comment,” Mr Saputo said.

”All parties were aware of the Australian regulatory approval process. We followed the guidance of local people here and it was successful, so I’m not quite sure what Gary Helou is referring to.”

RBS Morgans analyst Belinda Moore said the amended offer was tidier and a ”nice Christmas windfall”.

”It’s a nice simple deal now. There is no messiness around if you’ll get a dividend or franking credits and what that will mean,” Ms Moore said.

Analysts now expect Murray Goulburn to review its bid in the next day or two, otherwise the co-operative would miss out.

Bega has offered $2 cash plus 1.5 Bega shares, valuing its unconditional bid at $8.97 based on Monday’s close.

Although many now say the NSW-based company may have been squeezed out of the bidding war.

Bega’s offer closes this Thursday, while Murray Goulburn is planning to lodge its submission to the competition regulator on Friday.

Saputo’s offer is open until December 13.

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Shane Mosley’s father says US officials will ensure ‘level playing field’ against Anthony Mundine

Anthony Mundine and Shane Mosley ahead of their ill-fated bout in October. Photo: Ben RushtonJack Mosley, whose son Shane will take on Anthony Mundine in Sydney on Wednesday night, added extra spite to the fight by revealing American officials would be ringside to ensure it was ”above board”.
Nanjing Night Net

”Sugar” Shane Mosley questioned the credibility of the Australian fight industry when he flew out of the country on the eve of the original date for the light middleweight bout last month because Mundine’s promoter failed to deposit $700,000 into his account before an agreed deadline.

On his return to California, Mosley condemned the Australian fight scene, saying it was ”behind the times” and ”like the mafia days”. He also said that because Australia’s boxing commission was weak, ”anything goes”.

While Mosley agreed to return to Australia for a million-dollar pay day, his father – who is also his trainer – made it clear there were still some suspicions about how the fight would be conducted.

”We have representatives here from the United States, so hopefully that will be the case where everybody will have a level playing field and everything will be like it’s supposed to be, real professional,” he said.

”People from Golden Boy [Promotions] are bringing the representatives out here from the States so we’ll all have a level playing field and the skills will be calibrated. Everybody will be weighed on the same skills and things like that.”

Mosley snr said he had no complaints about the way in which he and his son had been hosted by Mundine despite the controversy that followed the triple world champion’s decision to leave Australia before last month’s fight.

However, he believed the Australian’s camp had underestimated the knockout threat his son has as a result of their power boxing – ”the jackhammer on concrete” approach to fighting.

”You have to be in shape to do that,” he said. ”And Shane is. The power boxing style means you have to be in shape … the jackhammer theory is you turn it on and hit a spot a couple of times and, if you keep on with it, that spot will open up.

”The boxer who is hit over and over again will give. To do it, you need to have power. You work the bags with a high intensity. You need the technique because if you don’t have technique you can’t have power.”

Mosley said his son, who is 42, was gaining even more power with age and predicted it would take only a few blows for Mundine – whose height, heavier weight and reach advantage over the American ought to tip the balance in his favour – to realise a harsh reality.

”[Shane] has the best knockout rate [68.42 per cent] of any boxer in the history of boxing with 35 fights or more,” Mosley said.

”From what I have seen of Mundine, I figure he will try to engage and will find [a different opponent] to what he thought and have to go to plan B. I don’t think they really know what they’re up against.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.