What’s going on in the minds of Southcorp chief executive John Ballard
and director Ern Pope? They’re “the only two people in Australia, if
not the world, who think Foster’s Group is not offering enough for
Southcorp”, says Alan Kohler
in The Age. Stephen Bartholomeusz
also comments on the “mere 4 cents a share” which is preventing
Foster’s from gaining unanimous approval from the Southcorp board,
suggesting that Trevor O’Hoy’s decision not to pay the measly amount is
a considered one.

The Australian
leads its business section with the rumour which swept dealing desks
yesterday that mining giant Rio Tinto was poised to launch a $9.6
billion-plus bid for WMC Resources, sending shares in the company to a
record high. In his Financial Review
Chanticleer column, John Durie
says Rio has so far said nothing to either kill or encourage the
rumours, but notes that BHP Billiton is considering a scrip alternative
to its $7.85 a share cash bid for WMC in an attempt to gain some
support for the takeover bid. TheAustralian
’s Robert Gottliebsen
says that BHP chief Chip Goodyear is “in a more vulnerable position
with WMC than Foster’s chief Trevor O’Hoy is in the Southcorp
situation” as global hedge funds punt large sums that Rio Tinto is the
missing “fat lady” in the WMC opera.

The Fin
also reports that the ACCC’s crackdown on “collusive behaviour” in the
pulp and paper sector has been expanded, with at least one
“substantial” and one “minor” investigation underway. The new
investigation come as the ACCC widens its enquiries into the Amcor-Visy
cardboard-box cartel allegations to include all major box contracts
from 2000-2004.

And
former Village Roadshow executive Peter Ziegler had the first of his
days in court as he accuses his former employer of greed, deception and
anti-Semitism in the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday in his attempt
to secure a huge termination payment from the very private media
company, reports the SMH.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended sharply lower on Tuesday after a mixed batch of earnings reports, says MatketWatch.

Peter Fray

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