Now it gets personal, says Jennifer Hewett in TheFinancial
Review
. Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes had his long-awaited
day in Federal Court yesterday and he immediately started naming names – “very
big names” – like that of PBL executive chairman James Packer, in an “explosive
recounting of a private and highly sensitive conversation” that is sure to
“infuriate the Packers and the Murdochs.”

But Stokes’s first day in the witness box dwelt mainly on
just how genuinely Seven wanted to sell C7 content to Foxtel, says Elisabeth
Sexton
in the SMH. So much so, recalled Stokes, he made an offer to
Telstra’s then chief executive, Ziggy Switkowski, to “give up” half
of C7 to Telstra in May 2000, during a one-on-one meeting at Stokes’s Double
Bay home.

Meanwhile, if Peter Costello was worried about Macquarie
Bank’s chief Allan Moss earning more than $18.55 million in 2005, what will he
say about Moss earning more than $20 million in 2006? asks Tony Boyd in the AFR’s Chanticleer. That scenario seems more
and more likely, says Lisa Murray in the SMH, with the bank yesterday reporting it was increasingly confident of
making at least $823 million this year, an 11% upgrade on its previous
guidance, as it does more deals in Australia
and overseas.

Telstra’s shares hit their lowest price since April 2003
yesterday, says Colin Kruger in the SMH, after shedding 4.4% of their value, or 19c a share, to close at $4.11.
But the market took the retreat as good news, having expected worse as the
telecom’s stock began trading ex-dividend, with books closing for its fully
franked 20c a share payout. And in more good news for Telstra, says Boyd in the
Fin – chief Sol Trujillo’s plan to roll out a high-speed fibre-optic network to
about 90% of Australian households looks like it may yet have a life.

And the Coopers-Lion Nathan saga continues, says Bryan Frith in The Australian, with Coopers directors now telling the shareholder seeking
to sell 6000 shares to the South Australian brewer’s unwanted bidder that after
three weeks of searching they have “presently” found a shareholder willing to
buy five of those shares. “That’s right,” says Frith, “a derisory five.”


The Australian
also reports that the Australian share market went “gangbusters” yesterday – the S&P/ASX200
index soaring 56.5 points to 4618.9 and eclipsing its previous record 4580.9
set last Tuesday. And on Wall Street, US stocks closed off highs, after a volatile session
dominated by mercurial crude prices and conflicting assessments of the damage
to the oil industry from Hurricane Rita. The Dow Jones closed up 24.04 points
at 10,443 – MarketWatch has the full report here.

Peter Fray

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