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25 July
Comments Off on Bird landing unknown but Knights deal stays

Bird landing unknown but Knights deal stays

Bird landing unknown but Knights deal stays STRUGGLE: The battle for Jack Bird’s signature continues with the Knights, who have tabled an offer with the Sharks star, now waiting to see if he stays at Cronulla, leaves for Brisbane or comes to Newcastle. Picture: Getty Images
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TweetFacebook Jack BirdPictures from Getty ImagesKnights coach Nathan Brown concedes he would understand if Jack Birdchoseto play in Brisbane instead of Newcastle next year but would still love the Sharks premiership star to end up in the Hunter from 2018.

The race for Bird’s signature heated up this weekwith the Broncos reportedly upping the ante considerably on the Knights original offer, which included a recent visit to the region, while current club Cronulla are also keen to keep hold of the NSW representative.

Brown said the Knights weren’t about to get in a bidding war and remains content with what has been tabled for the 22-year-old back despite the danger of losing his services north of the state border.

“Brisbane are an appealing club with10 or 12 origin and rep players, and they’re a one-townteam, which are all attractions for Jack,” Brown said.

“We had heard about it [the Broncos offer], but it doesn’t surprise me. Some clubs have the capacity to do a lot more than other clubs andBrisbane have always been a club that can attract those type of players and can afford those type of players.

“It would be great for Brisbane if it happens, but obviously we’d like him to come here. What unfolds there will unfold and we can’t do anymore as a club.

“We’ve put a fair bit of time into it andmade Jack a very good offer forwhere we’re atas a club. Hisdecision will come sooner or later, either favourable or unfavourable.”

In terms of Friday’s round 7 NRL clash with the high-flying Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium, Brown said the last-placed Knights would once again be up for the challenge despite losing four games by 10 points or less.

“I’d love to see the guys get some reward for their hard work, but wecertainly don’t do big chunks of the game well enoughto be quite honest,” he said.

“We’re far better than what we were at any stage last year as far as competitiveness, especially in the heatof the battle in the early parts of the game. But at some stages we fall away and when we do there’s a little three-four-five minute window where sides jag a couple of tries on us, which makes it hard.”

The Knights’21-man squad named on Tuesday remained unchangedfrom last week’s 22-12 loss to the Bulldogs but Danny Levi returns to starting hooker after a late shift to the bench, Jamie Buhrer moves back to the second-row and Joe Wardle goes to the reserves. Sam Stone has been elevated to the main 17ahead of Luke Yates.

“Sam Stone, whilst only a kid, has certainly been one of our most consistent players, so he’ll definitely come back into the squad,” Brown said.

“The fitness of one or two blokes will probably determine that [the final 17].”

PREVIOUS: Knights name squad to tackle Roosters

Elsewhere in rugby league the NSW Challenge Cup continues at Leichhardt Oval on Wednesday night with Macquarie playing Helensburgh in onesemi-final (8pm) while South Newcastle have been eliminated from the state knockout competition followinga forfeit toConcord Burwood.

“Pulled out due to a lack of fit players,” Souths coach Ben Cross said.

25 July
Comments Off on Scripture review finds a lot is taken on faith

Scripture review finds a lot is taken on faith

THEREare more than 100 faith organisations providing special religious education, or what is more commonly known as scripture, in NSW public schools.
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The majority are Christian, but Jewish, Hindu, Islam, Buddhist, Baha’i, Sikh and Vedic is also taught at some schools.

In 2015 the NSW Department of Education commissioned a $300,000 taxpayer-funded review of special religious education and special ethics education after controversy following its decision to change enrolment forms so that parents had to opt their children out of scripture. This followed a brief period when parents had to opt their children into scripture, which sent scripture numbers across the state crashing, and Christian scripture providers appealing to the NSW Government.

The ARTD Consulting review had a December, 2015 deadline, but it controversially remained with the Department of Education and NSW Government until its release on Tuesday.

The review contents, and the Department of Education’s rejection of all recommendations of substance, make it plain why the department sat on this for so long. The findings highlight serious issues with transparency, provider accountability, compliance monitoring by the department, parental choice and availability of information, the quality of what is taught and the amount of trust the department relies on when it comes to scripture providers in a self-regulating environment.

The department’s wholesale rejection of major recommendations reminds us what a politicised field scripture in state schools has become, only weeks after respected former Newcastle principal John Beach described it as “a can of worms” for principals because “you can’t say no to the scripture people”.

The department’s rejection of one recommendation –that secondary school students opting out of scripture should be able to do regular classwork while scripture lessons are held –is particularly troubling after the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council expressed “serious concern” that the choice of a minority of students deniedthe opportunity for learning for others.

In astatement the department noted the framework underpinning scripturedated back to 1848. The ARTD review supportsmore modern concepts of transparency, accountability and parental choice. The department needs to get with the times.

Issue: 38,463.

25 July
Comments Off on Hospital death rates higher than expected

Hospital death rates higher than expected

Mortality rates: John Hunter’s rate for haemorrhagic stroke improved between 2009 and 2015 from higher than expected to no different than expected. Cessnock Hospital had a similar improvement for heart attack.PATIENTS who attend John Hunter Hospital for ischaemic stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)or hip fracture surgeryare dying at a rate “higher than expected”considering their ages and conditions when compared to counterparts in other hospitals, according to new data.
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The Bureauof Health Information’sreport Exploring clinical variation in mortality analyses deathwithin 30 days of hospitalisation for seven different conditions as either lower than,higher than, or no different to the expected rate.

BHI chief executive Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque said the July 2012 to June 2015 data assessed a patient’s “entire journey”, from diagnosis in the emergency department to care provided on the ward.

“Patients in NSW can trust the care they receive,” he said. “We provide this information so hospitals can target their assessments to further improve quality of care.”

Hunter New England Health executive director of greater metropolitan health servicesKaren Kelly said it had undertaken an “extensive review” of the data. “In response, we also conducted our own audit of patient information for the identified chronic diseases,” she said. “The results tell us that overall patients consistently received timely and appropriate care for all of these conditions.

“We haveidentified opportunities to improve the clinical pathways for these conditions andstrategies will be put into place with the aim of improving outcomes.”

Dr Levesquesaid there had been a “substantial improvement” in NSW death rates for all sevenconditions over the past 15 years, including a 41 per cent decrease forheart attack, which now has the equal lowest rate.

Calvary Mater Newcastle is one of only four NSW hospitals to record higher than expected death rates for heart attack:10.3 per cent compared to a NSW figure of 6.9 per cent. This is up from 2009 to 2012, when its rate was no different than expected. Its ratefor COPD also grewto higher than expected. Chief executive officer Greg Flint said it would“assess and enhance the clinical pathways for the conditions highlighted”.

DrLevesque said NSW death rates fell most sharplybetween the two time periods for ischaemic stroke. At John Hunter, its rate hasbeenhigher than expected for the past six years. Ms Kelly said it had a highproportion of severe stroke patientsbecause of its dedicated stroke unit. Its rates for COPD and hip fracture surgery grew to higher than expected.

Belmont Hospital’s death rates for congestive heart failure and COPD also rose to higher than expected. It is the only Hunter hospital with a lower than expected rate, for ischaemic stroke.

Statement fromCalvary Mater Newcastle (CVM) chief executive officerGreg FlintCalvary Mater Newcastle is the major cancer care centre and palliative care service for the Hunter New England Local Health District.

CMN delivers more than 320,000 occasions of outpatient services and in excess of 16,000 inpatient treatments per year.

Further to the latest BHI report, CMN also conducted a general audit on the conditions reported on by the BHI.

CMN dedicates significant time to improve and strengthen clinical pathways to ensure that our patients are getting to where they need to be quicker and therefore start their treatment faster.

Work has already begun to assess and enhance the clinical pathways for the conditions highlighted in the most recent BHI report. This will ensure we continue to improve the quality of care we provide for our community.

CMN regularly reviews its performance and clinical outcomes. CMN submits data to the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards and submits data for comparative purposes to the Health Roundtable. Performance is also reviewed with Hunter New England Local Health District.

Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI)

An older and frailer cohort of people present to CMN with AMI compared to NSW state averages.

The BHI Report identified that patients who presented to CMN with acute myocardial infarction had significantly higher rates of other chronic health conditions compared to NSW similar cohorts. These included: Hypertension (14.5% higher), Renal Failure (3.9% higher), Malignancy (2.1% higher), Dementia (0.9% higher).

Patients were also significantly older, with 41% of the presentations to CMN being 75 years or older when compared to 38% in NSW. Our audit showed that the average age of patients who died was 80 years.

Our own audit has shown that all patients were under the care of, or had a consultation with a cardiologist. Documentation on the Chest Pain Pathway indicates that all elements on the pathway are well adhered to at CMN.

A change in process for Cardiac Rehabilitation for AMI patients in the Coronary Care Unit at CMN has seen a marked improvement in inpatient cardiac rehabilitation review and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation referrals. This also included an improvement in education for the patient upon discharge and providing individualised care plans to patients.

CMN will make some adjustments to the current process and documentation of the cardiac rehabilitation inpatient review system to indicate when patients have received a cardiac rehabilitation review while an inpatient.

CMN will improve the documentation of education provided to cardiac patients during admission and at discharge through the development of a check list.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Patients presenting to CMN with COPD had one or more significant chronic health condition.

Significant co-morbidity and patient factors among the CMN patients were higher than the NSW index. These included pulmonary circulation disorders, congestive heart failure, fluid and electrolyte disorders, cardiac arrhythmia, solid tumour without metastasis, metastatic cancer, diabetes (complicated), psychoses, lymphoma and liver disease.

Our audit has shown that an average of 93.5 percent of patients had their discharge summary provided to their primary care clinician within two days and there was improved use of antibiotics in the audit period.

Improvements can be made to the number of referrals to pulmonary rehabilitation and patient education relating to COPD, including smoking cessation. There has been some improvement from 2014 to 2016, reflecting a slight increase of consults by the Chronic Disease Nurse.

Spirometry (a test that can help diagnose various lung conditions, most commonly COPD) was not well attended within 24 hours of admission and decreased in 2016, while previous patient history spirometry attendance was not well documented. This is anticipated to improve with spirometry being added to the Clinical Application Portal in the future.

It is recommended that spirometry education and training for nursing staff is provided with a review of available equipment and spirometry be attended in the emergency department to determine baseline and confirm diagnosis.

It is also recommended that promotion of the referral and access to a Chronic Disease Nurse is increased and supported to include Congestive Cardiac Failure and diabetes in their service to COPD patients.

Statement from Hunter New England Health executive director of general metropolitan health services Karen KellyHunter New England Health has undertaken an extensive review of the BHI data. In response, we also conducted our own audit of patient information for the identified chronic diseases.

The results of our audit tell us that overall patients consistently received timely and appropriate care for all of these conditions.

We haveidentified opportunities to improve the clinical pathways for these conditions andstrategies will be put into place with the aim of improving outcomes in patient care.

For each condition, improvement strategies include:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: The Respiratory Stream has identified COPD management as a priority on the 2017 annual plan with specific focus on expansion of John Hunter Hospital’s AcuteNon-Invasive Ventilationservice to other sites using a telehealth model, increasing the number of patients having access to quit smoking programs and increasing the uptake and completion of pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

Hip Fracture: Consolidate the implementation of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care Clinical Care Standard,Hip Fracture Care.

Ischemic Stroke: Improve access to dedicated stroke beds or units as a priority.

Congestive Heart Failure: Development of a check list for best practice in the management of Congestive Heart Failure. Increase referrals to community and primary care for early intervention

Hunter New England Health is also rolling out the use of electronic discharge summaries, which will improve the information patients get when they leave the hospital and the communication to GPs and other care providers. This will enhance the coordination of follow-up care.

John Hunter Hospital

John Hunter Hospital is the tertiary referral centre for the entire northern NSW region with more than 76,000 presentations each year to our emergency department.

John Hunter Hospital is also the Major Trauma Service for Northern NSW and the only one outside of Sydney.

The hospital provides a full spectrum of care for patients along with education, clinical support and workforce development and treats the more seriously ill patients transferred for more specialised care.

Many patients receiving care in these categories are transferred to John Hunter Hospital from other hospitals.

Hospitals right across the district transfer patients to John Hunter Hospital for its highly specialised services. Often patients are first treated and stabilised in their local facility, but then transferred to John Hunter Hospital for further treatment.

Ischaemic stroke: John Hunter Hospital has a renowned stroke service with a track record of world-class care for patients who present with stroke.

The quality of stroke care we provide and the fact we have a dedicated stroke unit means that a high proportion of severe stroke patients present at John Hunter Hospital.

Our stroke team prides itself on accurate diagnosis and assessment of initial stroke severity. Since early 2016 this has been done with the assistance of more sophisticated imaging, including the Bi Plane Angiography.

We acknowledge that travel distances between people’s homes and hospitals in the rural areas where patients are being transferred from means that it can take longer for them to start receiving the care. We have begun work that focuses on reducing the time it takes to start treatment for a number of conditions.

We are also strengthening our relationship with NSW Ambulance, with initiatives such as the on-route thrombolysis program and stroke by-pass protocol. These initiatives mean that suspected stroke patients can begin receiving treatment while they are on their way to hospital.

We are always working to improve stroke management at John Hunter Hospital. We have recently expanded our Acute Stroke Unit four to 12 beds. This will improve the delivery of care, rehabilitation and outcomes for stroke patients. In addition, our Stroke Team is at the cutting edge of research, working to find ways to provide better care for our patients.

Research has shown that initial stroke severity at onset is the most powerful determinant of mortality and dependency. Since initial stroke severity was not recorded in the BHI data, small differences in the severity case mix could explain the small absolute difference in average 30 day mortality, which gave a higher than expected result.

Hip fracture surgery: Each year at John Hunter Hospital we admit more than 400 hip fracture patients who are older than 65 years of age. The BHI report shows that 94.7 percent of hip fracture patients between 2012 and 2015 were aged 65 years or older and 81.2 percent were aged 75 years or older.

In addition to this, our patients had more chronic diseases than the NSW index, including dementia and renal failure. Our audit data shows that John Hunter Hospital patients had a 6.6 percent higher incidence of dementia.

In early 2015, the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Hip Fracture Care were introduced and are now implemented for patients admitted with hip fractures. The Orthopaedic Clinical Nurse Consultant ensures all seven standards in the guidelines are followed for every patient. The BHI data will not yet reflect these changes in practice, but we would hope to see future improvement.

Since the introduction of the guidelines, 92 percent of patients at John Hunter Hospital have had their surgery within 48 hours of admission, receiving more timely and appropriate pain relief and being mobilised sooner.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: John Hunter Hospital audit data shows a relatively high proportion of our patients were experiencing acute respiratory failure. This may indicate that the COPD patients treated at John Hunter Hospital were very sick patients transferred for specialist and Intensive Care services.

Our internal audit of patient information showed that 94 percent of patients had one or more significant other chronic diseases, while a high proportion of patients (92 percent) were current or ex-smokers.

John Hunter Hospital patients had more chronic diseases than the NSW index, including Congestive Heart Failure, pulmonary circulation disorders, diabetes (complicated), other neuro disorders, psychoses and lymphoma.

To address this, we are creating medical records to accurately document COPD severity, in particular pre-existing COPD severity and other chronic diseases. This will enable more accurate prognosis and support treatment decisions for each patient.

Staff will also improve the promotion of interventional programs with evidence to improve COPD outcomes: including smoking cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation and co-ordination of care following discharge.

Belmont Hospital

Belmont Hospital is a community hospital with 23,000 presentations each year to the emergency department.

Many of the patients treated at Belmont Hospital live in the surrounding area. This has an impact on the type of conditions and the acuity of patients treated at the hospital. The patients presenting are older, with many other chronic diseases.

Belmont Hospital dedicates significant time to improving and strengthening clinical pathways to ensure that patients are getting to where they need to be quicker and therefore start their treatment faster.

Work has already begun to replicate this methodology for the conditions highlighted in the most recent report. This will ensure we continue to improve the quality of care we provide for our community.

Congestive heart failure: The BHI reports showed that Congestive Heart Failure patients at Belmont Hospital were older than their cohorts across NSW. 94 percent of patients were aged 65 years or older (90.2% NSW average) and 75 percent of patients were aged 75 years or older (73% NSW average).

The Belmont Hospital patients had more chronic diseases than the NSW cohort, including hypertension (27.4 percent higher), renal failure, other neuro disorders, fluid and electrolyte retention, metastatic cancer, three or more previous acute related admissions and paralysis.

Belmont Hospital is working to increase referrals to community-based clinical services for patients with heart failure conditions and introduce a checklist management guide to clearly identify best practice and allow staff to record adherence and completion of this.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Cigarette smoking is the most significant risk factor for these patients and our audit showed that 98 percent of COPD patients reviewed at Belmont Hospital were former or current smokers.

Age also played a significant factor for COPD patients at Belmont Hospital, with the BHI report showing that 85.1 percent of patients were aged 65 years or older (79.5% NSW average) and 58.3 percent of COPD patients at Belmont Hospital were aged 75 years or older (50.7% NSW average).

Belmont Hospital COPD patients also had more chronic diseases than the NSW cohort, including congestive heart failure, diabetes (complicated), other neuro disorders, three or more previous acute related admissions, solid tumour without metastasis and fluid and electrolyte disorders.

13 March
Comments Off on BHP, analysts rebuffs Elliott’s reform plan

BHP, analysts rebuffs Elliott’s reform plan

Analysts have added their voices to BHP Billiton’s opposition to a plan put forward late Monday by activist shareholder Elliott Advisors to dump the global miner’s dual company structure as part of a series of moves which are intended to boosting shareholder returns.
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In its rejection, BHP said the costs would outweigh any benefits.

Analysts with both Citi and RBC were quick to pan the idea, although both thought the US petroleum assets in particular to be ‘non-core’.

“The streamlining of BHP Billiton ownership structure to extract value from franking credits as well as a spin-out of the US onshore division are not novel ideas,” RBC Capital’s mining analyst Paul Hissey said.

“We do not necessarily see a collapsing of the [dual listed company] structure would unlock value as we think the only way to distribute franking is through dividends to the Australian shareholders or buyback which we think is currently available to [BHP] in the current format,” Citi analysts Clarke Williams and Trent Allen told clients.

In a letter sent to BHP following private meetings with the miner, Elliott outlined the proposals in detail. The investor has pushed for action to lift investor returns at a number of companies such as Samsung Electronics, Akzo Nobel and SABMiller.

BHP’s response prompted its London-listed stock to pare early gains of nearly 6 per cent . By 1500 GMT, it was 2.3 per cent higher.

“After reviewing the elements of Elliott’s proposal, we have concluded that the costs and associated risks of Elliott’s proposal would significantly outweigh any potential benefits,” BHP said in a statement.

Elliott’s plan would result in BHP remaining listed in both London and Australia, but would scrap its dual-company structure in favour of a single headquarters and tax residency in Australia.

The activist investor called for BHP to shift its US petroleum assets into an entity to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and commit to returning excess cash to shareholders.

The Citi analysts described BHP’s US petroleum assets as ‘non-core’ with RBC agreeing the merits of BHP retaining its US petroleum sector assets as ‘uncertain’.

“We value the US petroleum business at $US13.5b ($18b) vs. Elliott’s $US22b valuation (although we do agree with the sentiment around the cumbersome nature of both the DLC and the uncertain benefits from petroleum diversification, especially regarding the mismatched pro-cyclical capital spend of the shale business)???,” RBC’s Hissey told clients.

In outlining its proposal, Elliott argued BHP has underperformed comparable mineral and petroleum companies and its plan could provide shareholders with an increase in value of up to 48.6 per cent for holders of Australian shares and 51 per cent for holders of UK shares.

BHP disagreed, however.

“There is no obvious discount in BHP Billiton’s trading multiples relative to the weighted average of relevant mining and oil and gas peers,” it said.

The miner also said it regularly reassessed how to create value and reviewed company structure. It had spoken with Elliott over many months and would consider a more detailed response, it added. It dismissed Elliott’s plan for buying back shares as “a formulaic approach without regard for the cyclical nature of the resources industry or the returns available from other uses of cash”.

Commodity prices crashed in 2015 and early 2016, but have since recovered strongly, helping to drive gains across the mining sector. Mixed views

Started in 1977, Elliott manages assets worth more than $US32.7 billion, according to the company.

It says it holds a “long economic interest” of about 4.1 per cent of the issued shares in London-listed BHP, without specifying the instruments used to build the stake. It also says it has rights with its affiliates to acquire up to 0.4 per cent of the issued shares in ASX -listed BHP.

Other big shareholders were cautious about Elliott’s plan.

“(The) principle is OK. Detail and resultant uplift to shareholders might be more complex/less obvious,” Aberdeen Asset Management’s Head of Equities Hugh Young said in emailed comments.

Aberdeen is the second-biggest investor in BHP’s London-listed shares, with a 4.9 per cent stake worth $US1.3 billion.

Representing another big shareholder, Standard Life Investments Director Frances Hudson said it was not clear the plan was “in the interest of long-term investors or the company”.

Over the past two years, BHP has underperformed relative to fellow miners Rio Tinto , Glencore and Anglo American. But over 15 years, it is ahead of them.

Since it was set up in 2001, BHP said it had returned approximately $US23 billion to shareholders in buybacks and about $US45 billion in cash dividends.

It said it had also taken many steps to increase shareholder value, cut the number of assets in its portfolio by $US7 billion since 2013 and cutting unit costs by more than 40 per cent .

“We have laid the foundations for the group to substantially grow the base value of its operations,” BHP said in its statement. “Elliott’s proposal would put this at risk.”

– with Reuters

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13 March
Comments Off on Growthpoint, Cromwell increase tenant lists

Growthpoint, Cromwell increase tenant lists

The stronger leasing markets have led to an increase in landlords Growthpoint and Cromwell Corp’s tenants profiles across Melbourne and Sydney.
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Growthpoint Properties Australia has undertaken 28,323 square metres of leasing since the release of its half-year results in February 2017, including a 26,517 sqm logistics warehouse at 120 Link Road, Melbourne Airport to The Workwear Group, part of the Wesfarmers empire, for 10 years.

The swathe of new deals, with asset sales in Queensland, has boosted Growthpoint’s total portfolio occupancy, as at March 31, to 98 per cent, with 2.5 per cent vacancy in the office portfolio and 0.3 per cent in industrial.

Growthpoint currently has only 7 per cent of its leases, by income, potentially expiring over the next 24 months.

Growthpoint’s head of property, Michael Green, said the company would continue to act with “immediacy, and in advance of potential expiries, to lease up vacant space within its portfolio”.

According to Cushman & Wakefield, with effective rents trading at a significant discount to Sydney, Melbourne stands as an attractive proposition for companies looking to enter Australia.

“In the year ahead, a decline in the vacancy rate is expected to support strong rental growth, however as the next development cycle draws closer this growth can be expected to slow,” C&W’s research says.

In Sydney, Cromwell Property Group has secured two big-name retailers as long-term anchor tenants at its flagship $130 million Northpoint redevelopment.

Woolworths and Olympus Medical Centre have been quick to sign on for space in the integrated three-level retail facade.

Due for completion in 2018, the precinct will create a shopping, dining and lifestyle hub on the North Shore.

Damian Horton, Cromwell head of property, said the recent leases were an “exciting milestone” for the Northpoint redevelopment project, which is considered a central catalyst for North Sydney’s rejuvenation.

“The tenants are a perfect fit for a building that will become a hub for office workers and local residents. We are excited to be making a significant contribution to the North Sydney Council’s vision for the area,” Mr Horton said.

Cromwell has signed a 10-year lease with Woolworths to commence in mid-2018, securing the supermarket’s first store in North Sydney, while Olympus Medical Centre has signed a 10-year lease for 724 sqm on the ground level.

“With landlord-favourable conditions firmly established, existing tenants are expected to prioritise lease extensions and those with the flexibility to hand back excess space are likely to do so. Service sector employment growth, and anticipated negative net supply in 2017 and 2018, are expected to maintain landlord-favourable market characteristics,” C&W research says.

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13 March
Comments Off on West Melbourne car park fetches $25m

West Melbourne car park fetches $25m

Chinese developer Holder East has paid about $25 million for a car park in West Melbourne near Cbus’ new police headquarters site.
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The 1877 square metre site was billed as the first car park deal for 2017, but the property at 496-508 La Trobe Street is effectively a development site, held by Indonesian syndicate Regent Realty Australia for the past 15 years.

Colliers International agents David Sia, who negotiated the deal with Daniel Wolman, Oliver Hay and Matt Stagg, said the vendor had no plans to develop the unpermitted site, which is on the border of West Melbourne and the CBD.

“They saw the rising land tax bills and fear of over-supply as reasons to part ways with the asset,” Mr Sia said.

“Given the size of the site, it’s a strong indication of the strength of the market for land, achieving about $13,000 a square metre which represents the top end of land rates for this precinct,” he said.

The property was purchased in 2002 for $2.9 million. Some historic industrial buildings were demolished and permits for a residential project were issued but never executed. It is next door to the 1880s Spinks Tinsmiths Building at 488 La Trobe Street, where a16-storey apartment building has been proposed.

Thomson Geer partner Eu Ming Lim acted for the vendor. The purchaser has plans for a residential or office development, Mr Sia said. The site is close to the new Haileybury City campus and Far East Consortium’s massive West Side project.

The low-profile Holder East is an active trader in city property.

Late last year the developer bought 501-509 King Street for $6.02 million, one week ahead of its scheduled auction. The site adjoined another property at 511-525 King Street which Holder East had bought in 2014 for $10.05 million, giving the firm a 2000 square metre development site.

The company was cashed up after selling a 2000 square metre site at 97 Franklin Street to Scape Student Living for $56 million.

Meanwhile on the other side of the city, six parties including a major Chinese investor and some active Southbank players, are understood to be competing for a key site behind Crown Casino.

Prices offered for the three-storey building at 190-196 City Road are understood to be more than $20 million, a substantial premium on the price paid by Datacom, a New Zealand technology company, in 2005. Datacom bought the property for $7.15 million after it passed in at auction.

It is selling the property with a newly signed four-year lease in place with three three-year options.

The 4307 square metre building is on a 1597 square metre site surrounded by towers, which makes it an attractive future development target.

CBRE agent Josh Rutman, who is marketing the building with Lewis Tong and Mark Wizel, declined to comment on the deal.

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13 March
Comments Off on To get the answer, investors must ask the right question

To get the answer, investors must ask the right question

Ask the right question and maybe you will get the correct answer.
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And if you are a local shareholder in BHP Billiton, figuring out whether the shares you hold trade at a premium, or a discount, to their London traded counterpart is fundamental to deciding whether you should back any push to collapse the dual-listed company structure, with separate shares listed in the Australian and London markets.

Late on Monday, investment funds associated with US activist investor Paul Singer went public with a proposal to prod global miner BHP Billiton to collapse its dual company structure as well as spin-out its US petroleum assets.

BHP immediately ruled it out, saying it has looked at making the move but costs would outweigh the benefits, and the idea was greeted coolly by analysts, who mostly doubted just how much better off shareholders would be if the reorganisation was implemented.

Dubbed the “value unlock plan”, Elliott Advisors which claims to speak for as much as 4.1 per cent of the capital of BHP’s British-listed arm, would collapse the miner’s dual company structure into a single Australian-headquartered entity with its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange with Australian investors to receive a CHESS depositary interest.

The proposal is aimed at retaining index inclusion in the two markets, which is important to retaining sharemarket valuations.

But if the proposal was implemented, would offshore investors gain access to the premium BHP shares trade in Australia or would Australian investors end up seeing the shares trade at the discount BHP shares are accorded in London?

Or as Macquarie asked in a research note: Does the British stock trade at a discount or the Australian stock trade at a premium?

The common view is that the premium accorded BHP shares traded on the ASX stems from the benefit of franking credits.

“There is the real risk in our view that a combined single listed entity could trade towards the UK multiples rather than maintain the Australian multiples,” the broker warned clients.

Over the past two years, BHP shares traded in Britain have traded at a 15 per cent discount to the Australian-traded shares. The ASX200 trades on a price-earnings multiple of around 16.3 times, analysts said, which is significantly higher than the multiple of 14.5 times shares included in the FTSE100 index trade at.

The limited spread of investible assets available through the ASX, with a bias towards financial services and mining stocks, along with the broadly higher dividends paid by public companies in Australia when compared with offshore markets due to their maturer status are often mentioned as reasons why multiples are higher on the main ASX indices.

The other element of the Elliott Advisors proposal, BHP spinning out its US petroleum assets into a separate entity to be listed on the New York stock exchange, won broader support from analysts, although whether this would be beneficial to shareholders would depend on the level of debt the entity would be loaded up with if the plan were to proceed.

Group-wide, BHP’s net debt stood at around $US20 billion at the end of December which is expected to decline to around $US15 billion by mid-year, thanks to strong commodity prices, iron ore and coal in particular.

“The level of debt ascribed to the petroleum division is critical in valuing a demerger option, particularly given we only expect the US petroleum assets to consume all cash generated for the next eight years,” Macquarie told clients.

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13 March
Comments Off on Supermarkets set to pass rising costs on to customers: Citi

Supermarkets set to pass rising costs on to customers: Citi

AFR – WOOLWORTHS CEO. Reporter: Sue Mitchell. Woolworths Leichhardt supermarket, Leichhardt Marketplace Photo shows, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci pictured at their Leichhardt store as he points out what woolies is doing to win back customers and restore sales growth . Photo by, Peter Rae Thursday 20 October, 2016 Photo: Peter RaeShoppers should kiss goodbye steady prices in the supermarket.
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Supermarkets are paying more for electricity, meat and fruit and vegetables, and will soon pass these price rises on to customers, said investment bank Citi.

“Australian supermarket industry growth is near 30-year lows of 2.5 per cent,” said Citi analysts led by Craig Woolford. “The reason is a simple one. Price inflation is absent in this market.

“Cost pressures are building around raw materials and energy prices, which is likely to trigger higher inflation in our view.”

The analysts point out that sugar, palm oil, coffee, dairy and oil prices are all up by double digits in the past year, and raw material ingredients and packaging in grocery items accounted for about 20 per cent of retail prices.

Furthermore, the analysts note that meat prices are on the rise due to export demand, and fresh produce inflation will rise by between 5 and 10 per cent in the next three months given flood and cyclone damage.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci recently warned that soaring electricity prices were a “material issue” and would lead to higher prices on the shelves. At $360 million a year, electricity is Woolworths’ third largest cost, behind labour and rent.

“We manage what we can manage with energy efficiency. But given the cost increases that are coming through right now, we are trying to outrun a bear, but I am not sure we can,” Mr Banducci said in late March.

“We will have to in some way, very cautiously and carefully, pass those through to our customers, unfortunately.”

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13 February
Comments Off on Hardware disaster continues to haunt Woolies

Hardware disaster continues to haunt Woolies

Woolworths’ disastrous foray into hardware continues to haunt the retail giant after law firm Maurice Blackburn revealed plans for a $100 million class action against Australia’s biggest supermarket chain.
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Despite closing the doors on its loss-making Masters Home Improvement business last year, the proposed class action relates to alleged breaches of the Corporations Act dating back to Woolworths’ shock profit downgrade in early 2015 and attempts to stem big losses from its hardware operation.

By late 2014, analysts were reporting Woolworths was putting up margins at the supermarket chain, cutting staffing levels and leaning on suppliers in an attempt to make up burgeoning losses at its failed Masters Home Improvement chain and Big W.

Shopper backlash to price increases and a broader deterioration across the supermarket chain gained momentum between December 2014 and January 2015, eventually forcing the retailer’s management to cut its full-year earnings outlook in February 2015. Woolworths’ shares dived 13.7 per cent in the wake of the profit downgrade.

One analyst said Woolworths eventually confessed to being too focused on meeting short-term earnings targets but the insight came too late to prevent many shoppers abandoning the chain, creating an opening for Wesfarmers’ Coles business to exploit.

“They just kept on trying to meet earnings targets by going back to the milking cow that was the supermarkets business,” one analyst said.

The proposed class action could exceed $100 million, Maurice Blackburn said on Tuesday. It has opened a registration portal for shareholders to sign up to the claim.

While Maurice Blackburn’s investigation continues, the law firm alleged Woolworths knew that it was significantly behind its profit projections as early as October 2014 but continued to maintain its profit guidance until the publication of its half-year accounts in February 2015.

“When corporations don’t abide by the laws requiring they make timely and accurate market disclosures, these aren’t mere technical breaches – it causes loss to shareholders, undermines the integrity of the market and distorts the efficient allocation of capital that could go to more deserving companies,” Maurice Blackburn principal Andrew Watson said.

“The end result is that shareholders, both individual everyday Australians and large institutional investors entrusted with members’ savings such as large superannuation funds, unwittingly suffer the consequences and lose out in a major way.”

Fears the poor performance of Masters was hurting Woolworths’ core supermarket business surfaced after the supermarket chain reported soft first-quarter sales in late 2014, prompting a number of analysts to question whether the retail giant would meet its full-year net profit guidance.

In a research note from December 3, less than a week after Woolworths reaffirmed its full-year guidance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst David Errington slashed the earnings outlook for the retailer by 5 per cent for fiscal 2016 and 13 per cent for fiscal 2017.

Merrill Lynch forecast the 2015 full-year net profit after tax would grow by 4.5 per cent, at the bottom end of the retail giant’s guidance of between 4 and 7 per cent growth.

“The key reason for our earnings downgrade are our view of the continued deterioration of Woolworths’ non-supermarket business, notably Masters and Big W and the reduced ability in our view of Woolworths supermarkets to continue increasing margins,” Mr Errington said.

“In our view, continuing to drive margins higher in Australian supermarkets is seeing a loss in competitive position, leading to deteriorating sales and ultimately a fall in margins.”

Woolworths cut its full-year net profit after tax guidance to the “lower end” of analyst forecasts as part of its half-year results in February 2015.

The retailer’s 2015 full-year net profit before one-off costs inched up by just 0.1 per cent to $2.45 billion, while its full-year net profit slumped 12.5 per cent to $2.15 billion, thanks to big losses at the Masters chain.

IMF Bentham has proposed to fund the class action, which would deal with claims of alleged misleading or deceptive conduct and alleged breaches of continuous disclosure laws between November 27, 2014 and February 26, 2015.

Senior investment manager at IMF Bentham, Wayne Attrill, said like all shareholder class actions, it would proceed only if enough shareholders signed up.

“This is a chance for investors who believe they were deprived of information on the true state of affairs of the company standing up and being able to access a meaningful redress,” Mr Attrill said.

Woolworths on Tuesday said it had not been served with proceedings and would defend any action.

“Woolworths considers that it has, at all times, complied with its continuous disclosure obligations,” the company said in a statement.

The class action follows failed action against Woolworths by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

According to Maurice Blackburn, Woolworths said in its defence to the ACCC proceedings that it had forecast in October 2014 that there would be a variance in its gross profit before freight of $53 million.

The competition watchdog’s case was launched in December 2015 and related to the company’s dealings with suppliers to plug a profit shortfall after discovering a $50 million hole in its books. The Federal Court last year ruled the conduct towards suppliers was not unconscionable.

Australian Shareholders’ Association director Allan Goldin said he would watch the case closely. “If continuous disclosure didn’t happen, then we are obviously very concerned,” he said.

Class actions need seven or more people to run, but their financial viability depends on the size of shareholder losses.

Maurice Blackburn would not say whether any institutional shareholders were behind the action.

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13 February
Comments Off on Oroton CEO follows Rose Byrne out the door

Oroton CEO follows Rose Byrne out the door

Struggling boutique handbag retailer OrotonGroup has appointed its major shareholder as interim chief executive after its boss resigned fresh from a disappointing half-year result.
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Mark Newman, who has held the top job for four years, will be replaced temporarily by director Ross Lane, who is the company’s biggest shareholder with a 21 per cent stake.

Combined with fund manager Will Vicars, the pair own 38.5 per cent of the company, which has a market capitalisation of just $68 million.

The stock is not broadly covered by the market. A privatisation would depend on the major shareholders’ appetite for further investment. It’s understood Oroton has not been shopping its brands around.

Dean Fergie, director and portfolio manager at Cyan Investment Management, said Oroton’s recent first-year sales were “poor to say the least, with negative like-for-like sales and an earnings before interest and tax margin that halved.” Oroton also halted dividends.

Chairman John Schmoll said Mr Lane’s “intimate knowledge” of OrotonGroup and his “broad retail experience” meant he was “ideally qualified to lead the company during this important period of transition.” Mr Schmoll is a former chief financial officer of Coles Group.

In early trade, OrotonGroup shares closed up 1??, to $1.62.

Oroton recently blamed its disappointing first-half result – when net profit dived 52 per cent to $1.8 million for the six months ending January 28 – on its unprofitable GAP brand, unseasonable weather, “a structural change in shopping habits,” the exit of discontinued categories, lower factory outlet sales at Oroton, lower foot traffic and foreign exchange problems.

It is seeking to target a younger and broader customer, through using “influencers” to promote its products, putting more money into social media, and promotions such as its “Great Barrier Reef Collection.”

OrotonGroup recently dumped Bridesmaid actress Rose Byrne as its model, and paid $4.5 million for a 30 per cent stake in accessories brand The Daily Edited.???

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13 February
Comments Off on Cbus offers affordable housing at Newmarket Randwick

Cbus offers affordable housing at Newmarket Randwick

Cbus Property has entered into an agreement with Randwick City Council to construct a minimum of 10 apartments for affordable housing on the site of the Newmarket Big Stable area, near Randwick Racecourse, which has been designated for community use.
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The plan to offer the more affordable units comes from negotiations with Randwick City Council for Cbus Property to dedicate the community facilities under a voluntary planning agreement.

Cbus, as part of the agreement, will also offer the council, what is known as the stable area, being a 5000-square-metre public park and six new roads. It is all part of the redevelopment of the William Inglis & Sons property, to be marketed as Newmarket Randwick.

The five-hectare Newmarket property in Randwick was sold to Cbus Property for $250 million in 2015, and there are plans to build more than 750 apartments on the site.

The Inglis group will move its headquarters to new premises at Warwick Farm, in Sydney’s west.

Cbus Property chief executive Adrian Pozzo said the planning agreement was a “great step forward for its Newmarket Randwick project and the wider community”.

“Housing affordability is a significant issue in our society and we know how crucial it is for housing to be accessible for all so it was important for us to include these affordable housing apartments as part of this voluntary planning agreement,” he said.

“We have worked closely with council during the thorough planning and assessment process for our Stage 1 Masterplan DA to arrive at a development proposal that will create a new sustainable and sensitive redevelopment of this iconic property whilst retaining and celebrating its remarkable heritage.”

Cbus also plans to pay tribute to the past by including the restoration and adaptive reuse of Newmarket House and retention of historically significant vegetation on the site including Moreton Bay Fig, Norfolk Island Pine and Port Jackson Fig trees.

Newmarket Randwick will be developed in three stages, with completion expected in early 2021.

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13 February
Comments Off on Banks lift ASX to another high

Banks lift ASX to another high

The Australian sharemarket defied weak offshore leads and falling iron ore prices to push higher again on Tuesday, with strength in the major banks helping keep the benchmark index at its highest level since early 2015.
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The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 per cent to 5929.3, while the broader All Ordinaries Index added 0.3 per cent to 5964.6.

“The highlight was a bit of support for the banks, which have been toing and froing between believers and disbelievers for a while,” said Paterson’s Securities economist Tony Farnham.

The big four banks rose between 0.4 and 0.7 per cent, with the exception of Westpac, which soared 1.2 per cent. With all other sectors trading in the red or narrowly in the black, the financials sector as a whole made up almost all the index’s upward movement, rising 0.8 per cent as a whole.

Meanwhile, the materials sector was the major drag on the market, largely due to BHP Billiton giving up some of yesterday’s outsized gains. On Monday, BHP shares soared 4.6 per cent to their highest levels in two years after a hedge fund that owns 4.1 per cent of the company’s London-listed stock urged the board to separate its petroleum arm and collapse its dual listing.

On Tuesday, BHP shed 1.2 per cent, which Mr Farnham put down to “a bit of profit-taking after the run-up yesterday”.

Rio Tinto, however, closed up 2.0 per cent. Fortescue Metals dipped 1.5 per cent. Most gold miners were up, though Saracen Mineral Holdings plunged 4.2 per cent after informing the market its March quarter gold production fell short of guidance due to heavy rainfall.

Shares in Asaleo Care plunged 8.4 per cent, their biggest fall in 9 months, after a Credit Suisse note cut the toiletries manufacturer to ‘neutral’.

Ardent Leisure also had a bad day, down 1.0 per cent, after it revealed on Monday a 34.3 per cent fall in revenue at its parks due to the impact of Cyclone Debbie. UBS downgraded the stock on Tuesday, which may have played into its fall. ???

Woolworths was 0.7 per cent lower after news broke of a $100 million class action being brought against it by Maurice Blackburn over its shock 2015 profit downgrade. Wesfarmers was also dragged lower, closing down 0.3 per cent.

While market turnover was “reasonable” on Tuesday, “you’d expect to see it thinning out towards the end of the week because of the Easter holidays”.

Stock watch: Costa Group

Shares in horticultural company Costa Group hit an all-time high on Tuesday, soaring 7.1 per cent to $4.69, after Goldman Sachs lifted its price target for the stock. Goldman reiterated its ‘buy’ rating and raised its price target by 27 per cent to $5.10, saying Costa’s move into the avocado market last year and the positive outlook for blackberries will lift earnings. “The avocado market has experienced robust growth over the past decade. We expect steady volume and value growth driven by increased consumption and potential expansion into the export markets over the medium term,” the analysts write. Three analysts have a ‘buy’ rating on the stock and one a ‘hold’, with an average price target of $4.44, according to Bloomberg. Market movers

Coking Coal

Premium coking coal prices surged above $US300 a tonne as the damage from Cyclone Debbie continued to sideline Queensland coking coal exports. Aurizon’s share price surged 3.6 per cent on Tuesday as the first shipment of coal reached Gladstone port via Aurizon’s Blackwater rail line, which transports 15???20 per cent of cross border coking coal. But other lines remain damaged. Aurizon estimates it will take another four weeks to repair its Goonyella rail line, which transports 35???40 per cent of global coking coal exports.

Iron ore

Iron ore’s descent into bear-market territory may herald further weakness. Barclays pinned the blame for the slide on lower steel demand in China driving a shift from mills toward lower-quality ore, and raised the prospect of a drop into the $US50s. Ore with 62 per cent content in Qingdao fell 1 per cent to $US74.71 a tonne overnight, following a 6.8 per cent drop on Friday that pushed the commodity into a bear market from a February peak. Iron ore futures in Dalian are trading flat at 523 yuan

AUD/CAD

Short Aussie against the Loonie: that’s the way currency traders are playing the contrasting fortunes of two key commodities – iron ore and oil. While the price of the latter, Canada’s main export, has been boosted by Middle Eastern tensions, iron ore has dropped into a bear market. The Australian dollar dropped below parity against the Canadian dollar on Monday night for the first time in two months, and was fetching 99.95 Canadian cents. in late trade on Tuesday, having declined 2.2 per cent in the past two weeks.

NAB survey

Business conditions jumped in March to highs not seen since before the global financial crisis with sales, profits and employment all at levels that bode well for a pick up in economic growth in coming months. NAB’s monthly survey of more than 400 firms showed its index of business conditions climbed 6 points to +14 in March, well above the long-run average of +5. The survey’s measure of business confidence, however, dipped a point to +6 which was in line with its long-run average. The major services sectors and wholesale reported the strongest conditions.

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13 February
Comments Off on Australia should consider Republicans’ tax plan: Garnaut

Australia should consider Republicans’ tax plan: Garnaut

Australia should consider a tax plan being pushed by Donald Trump’s Republican Party which could stop multinational corporations avoiding tax, prominent economist Ross Garnaut says.
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Professor Garnaut said that while it was difficult to know what President Trump intended to with corporate tax rates, despite campaign promises of a cut to 15 per cent, there was merit to the Republican Party leadership’s proposal to fund rates cut of between 15 and 25 per cent by scrapping deductions.

“Our existing tax base for the corporate income tax is in deep trouble,” Professor Garnaut told the Melbourne Economic Forum on Tuesday.

“It’s subject to egregious avoidance or evasions, with two of the main instruments of avoidance being arbitrary use of interest on debt to reduce taxable income and, more importantly, arbitrary use of payment for import of services as deductions.

“You have a lot of what must be fundamentally some of the most profitable enterprises in Australia paying no corporate income tax.

“Google and Microsoft and Uber, they manage to generate very large sales in Australia … but somehow make no profit from it because of payment for intellectual property, payments for services.”

Professor Garnaut said opportunities for international tax avoidance had prompted a “race to the bottom” on tax rates between nations, which had compounded the issue and led to greater erosion of tax bases in all jurisdictions.

“So I wouldn’t be frightened by the possibility that Trump will take up the Republican proposals,” he said. “In fact I think we should look very carefully at whether we should be looking at it for ourselves.”

Miranda Stewart, director of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at Australian National University, said the extent to which the corporate tax base had been eroded had been understated.

She said Australia was not competing with havens like the Bahamas, and it had to be assumed multinationals were already structuring their businesses so as much as possible was in low-tax jurisdictions.

“Us reducing the rate will have an effect on base erosion because it reduces the value of the expenditure deductions,” Professor Stewart said.

She said there was a “win-win” scenario where the base was broadened while rates were cut by reducing deductions.

“We estimate you could fund a cut to 25 per cent by denying interest deductibility. Potentially if you go a bit further you could fund an investment allowance.”

The Turnbull government last month secured a cut to the corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for businesses with turnover under $50 million a year, at a cost of $24 billion over the medium term. The government has not been able to pass similar cuts for businesses of all sizes.

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