It appears to have dawned on the market that Chris Corrigan
has developed a scorched earth strategy for fighting off the $4.6 billion Toll Holdings bid for Patrick
Corporation, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. Yesterday, Patrick scored a victory in the Victorian
Supreme Court that could lead to their rail
joint venture with Toll, Pacific National, being unwound, reports The Smage. The court gave Patrick approval to put, for a second
time, a resolution to the PNL board that would allow an
investigation of a dispute between the two PNL partners. And while a break-up of PNL
would destroy value for Corrigan’s own
shareholders, the prospect of a break-up would also affect the
value of Toll and undermine the currency for the takeover, says Bartholomeusz.

And federal court judge Alan Goldberg yesterday
appeared to be leaning towards allowing shareholders of Coopers Brewery
to decide whether they want to kill off Lion Nathan’s $352 million
takeover bid – provided they are fully informed as to the consequences
of their vote, says Bryan Frith in The Australian. That suggests Goldberg is likely to allow an extraordinary meeting of
Coopers shareholders, called to consider changes to the company’s
constitution, to proceed – provided Coopers supplies much more
information than was contained in the perfunctory explanatory
memorandum which accompanied the notice of meeting.

Australia’s largest media buying agency has put its clients on
notice that the average asking price for a commercial on
free-to-air television will jump 5 to 10% next year, reports The Age. Though many in the advertising industry argue that the $2.8
billion capital-city TV market is due to cool down after a
phenomenal three years of growth, Harold Mitchell believes the three commercial networks will
demand larger ad rates when negotiations begin this month.

The federal government’s long-awaited reforms to competition policy are
facing a last-minute challenge in the Senate after key Nationals
senators signalled they might oppose the changes unless they secured
greater protection for small business, reports The Fin Review.
The new laws would impose tighter deadlines on the ACCC and give
companies the option to sideline the commission on some mergers and go
directly to the Australian Competition Tribunal.

And The Australian reports that UBS and Macquarie Bank continued to dominate
the equity and mergers and acquisitions league tables for the nine
months ending 30 September, with Macquarie leading equity and
equity-linked issuance, and UBS leading announced mergers and
acquisitions, according to both Thomson Financial and Bloomberg.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended mixed overnight after a manufacturing
report came in stronger than expected, prompting concern that interest
rates may have further to rise to contain inflationary pressures in the
economy. The Dow Jones

fell 33.22 points to 10,535 – MarketWatch has a full report here.

Peter Fray

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