The Border Watch : December 24th 2013
BUSINESS Nib raises premiums by 8pc SYDNEY: Health insurer nib is lifting its premiums by an average of almost 8 per cent. Chief executive March Fitzgibbon said the 7.99 per cent increase was needed to keep up with the rising cost of providing health care. The insurer paid out more than $1 billion in benefits to customers in the 2012-13 financial year, up more than 10 per cent on the previous year, he said. The company has more than 470,000 Australian policy holders. “While every effort has been made to keep premium increases as low as possible, rising medical and healthcare costs, as well as customer utilisation, means we need to increase premiums to maintain the level of health cover and benefits our customers have come to expect,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has given approval for a rise in nib’s premiums across all products by an average of 7.99 per cent, which will take effect from April. The company said another factor in the premium hike was its risk-equalisation liability, a system Mr Fitzgibbon said required all health insurers to share the costs associated with older and chronically ill Australians. Goodman sells off biscuits MELBOURNE: Food producer Goodman Fielder is selling its biscuits business in Australia to Green’s Foods, generating proceeds of $17 million. But the company will record a non-cash impairment of between $50 million and $55 million in its half-year accounts as a result of the sale. Goodman Fielder chief executive Chris Delaney said the transaction was consistent with the company’s strategy of focusing on core categories and brands. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of February. AAP $1 billion a day spent on gifts Aussie shoppers spending big in the lead-up to Christmas CANBERRA: Australians have been spending more than a billion dollars a day in the final shopping rush before Christmas. Retailers have recorded a pick-up in spending on electronics, furniture, homewares and books. Ahead of tomorrow’s big day, the focus has switched from presents to celebrations, with more money expected to be spent on food and alcohol yesterday and today. “We’re certainly in the space of Australians, overall, spending well over a billion dollars a day over the weekend,” National Retailers Association chief executive Trevor Evans said yesterday. “We’re certainly in the space of Australians, overall, spending well over a billion dollars a day over the weekend.” The Australian National Retailers Association agreed and was predicting sales of about $29.6 billion over the Christmas period, an increase of more than 5 per cent from 2012. Chief executive Margy Osmond said with Christmas Day falling mid-week, some shoppers appeared to have been caught off-guard about how long they had to prepare. ANRA estimated lastminute shoppers would spend $61 million online yesterday, mostly on gift vouchers. Ms Osmond said after three years as one of the top Christmas presents, gift cards had gone from daggy to desirable. “People like to get the gift cards because they can use them in the post-Christmas sales and get an extra bargain,” she said. Mr Evans expected Australians would also spend up big in the Boxing Day sales, even though many retailers, especially clothes shops, had offered large discounts in the leadup to Christmas. “The fact they’re doing that before Christmas indicates the sales are going to be very genuine and very big indeed come Boxing Day when it comes down to a clearance of stock situation,” Mr Evans said. Ms Osmond agreed, saying the ability to research sales online first, as early as Christmas Eve, would translate to more people turning up in the shops on Boxing Day. “This is the first Christmas where retailers are engaging in a much more personalised way with shoppers in terms of the sale activity,” she said. Apple teams with China’s core carrier NEW YORK: Apple has announced a long- AAP anticipated deal with China Mobile, the world’s biggest wireless carrier, in a market dominated by low-cost Android smartphones. The deal gives Apple a bigger entry into the huge Chinese market and China Mobile’s estimated 760 million subscribers. The network is also rolling out the world’s biggest 4G network. Under the agreement, iPhone 5s and 5c models will be available at China Mobile and Apple retail stores across mainland China from January 17, Apple said. China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua said: “We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers who are anxiously awaiting the incredible combination of iPhone on China Mobile’s leading network.” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said: “China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world’s largest network.” Negotiations between Apple and China Mobile took years, one hurdle Joining forces: iPhones will be sold at China Mobile stores from January 17. reportedly being the US firm’s demand for sales volume guarantees. Analyst Horace Dediu at the consultancy Asymco said a conservative estimate of 4 per cent of China Mobile customers would yield sales of about 30 million iPhones in the first year. Industry tracker IDC forecast smartphone sales Picture: AP in China would reach 360 million this year and, with the issuance of 4G network licences and iPhones launched on China Mobile, top 450 million in 2014. AFP Newcrest facing a shareholder class action SYDNEY: Australia’s largest gold miner is facing a class action from shareholders over its massive financial writedown. Newcrest Mining in June downgraded its production forecasts and reduced the value of its assets by more than $6 billion, partly because of the significant fall in the gold price. In the days leading up to the announcement, three different analysts downgraded their investment views on Newcrest, causing a fall in the company’s share price. The corporate regulator is investigating possible breaches of disclosure laws, due to speculation analysts were given market-sensitive information before it was released to the wider investment market. 6 - The Border Watch, Tuesday, December 24, 2013 Newcrest has denied it breached any laws, and an investigation it commissioned in July found no wrongdoing. Law firm Slater and Gordon has told Newcrest they had been instructed to start a shareholder class action in the Federal Court against the gold miner, relating to Newcrest’s market disclosure ahead of its June writedowns. But before proceedings commence, the law firm has invited Newcrest to start “confidential and without prejudice discussions” about the matter. “Newcrest is considering its position in relation to this approach,” the company said. “Newcrest intends to defend any proceedings if they are commenced,” it said. AAP AAP IN BRIEF Asciano takes the wheel from Toll MELBOURNE: Transport group Toll will provide Asciano with at least 90 per cent of its Queensland rail freight volumes from next year in a new 13-year deal between the companies. As part of the deal, Asciano’s subsidiary Pacific National Rail will also buy five Queensland rail terminals from Toll Holdings for $71 million. The deal means Pacific National Rail will take over the north Queensland rail service of Toll’s business from February 1. Asciano is forecasting a 5 per cent fall in earnings before interest and tax in the Pacific National Rail division for fiscal 2014. Charges against AWB pair dropped MELBOURNE: The corporate regulator has dropped charges against two former AWB employees over the Iraq kickbacks scandal from a decade ago. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said it was dropping its Victorian Supreme Court action against former AWB sales and marketing manager Charles Stott and his successor Michael Long. As a grain marketing organisation, AWB was found to have illegally paid more than $200 million in bribes to former Iraq president Saddam Hussein’s regime to secure wheat contracts between 2001 and 2005. Tiffany told to pay $504m to Swatch BERLIN: Tiffany & Co has been ordered to pay Swatch Group AG about $504 million in compensation over a contractual dispute. The dispute arose in 2011 when Swatch cancelled its cooperation with Tiffany, with Swatch saying the jeweller was in breach of contract because it was trying to “block and delay” a joint venture both companies had entered in 2007. “We were shocked and extremely disappointed with the decision of the majority of the arbitral panel,” Tiffany chief executive Michael J. Kowalski said yesterday. Watpac wins $80m apartments contract MELBOURNE: Construction firm and property developer Watpac has won a contract worth more than $80 million to build the STK Apartments residential tower on St Kilda Rd in Melbourne. The 30-storey tower will comprise 328 residences, and will be the highest building in St Kilda.
December 20th 2013
December 27th 2013