The endless evolution at Mayne continues as the healthcare giant unveiled plans to spin off its $1.5 billion-plus international pharmaceuticals business yesterday, reports The Australian. Mayne Group chairman Peter Willcox is a man with good antennae for the interests of his constituents, so it’s no surprise that he has given long-suffering shareholders just the news they have been hoping for, says Elizabeth Knight in the SMH. And while one could be flippant about the prospect of Mayne’s latest vision for its future, there’s an underlying and very clear logic to the prospect, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age. If Mayne splits, then shareholders will make a lot of money, because Australian institutions and analysts have no idea how to value the stock, says Robert Gottliebsen in TheOz.

Key budget policy decisions are still unresolved as leadership tensions between Howard and Costello have thrown preparations into disarray, reports Laura Tingle in theFin Review. High-income earners are set to receive another tax cut when the budget is handed down next week.

Also in the AFR, accountants, lawyers and other professionals could lose millions of dollars in tax breaks following an ATO crackdown on a trust structure widely used to shift partnership profits to family members. And the main focus of ASIC’s Offset Alpine investigation has shifted to businessman Trevor Kennedy, reports the Fin.

Meanwhile, the Telstra board is poised to sign off on a replacement for chief executive Ziggy Switkowski with an announcement expected by the end of the month, reports The Australian. It’s understood that the board has settled on a North American candidate, with AT&T chief operating officer Bill Hannigan now a front-runner for the job.

On Wall Street overnight, US stocks posted their fourth straight day of gains as General Motors surged 18% after billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s investment firm announced plans to double its stake in the automotive giant. The Dow Jones was up 1.2% to hit three-week highs. Marketwatch has a full report here.

Peter Fray

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