GPT Group and investment house Babcock & Brown have cemented
their June marriage with a $1.2 billion asset reshuffle and
acquisitions in the US and Europe, and indicated investigations
into an Australian hotel fund are continuing, reports The Smage. The overseas move will give the joint venture $2.38 billion in
assets under management, made up of retail, industrial and
residential properties. The unlikely and controversial joint venture is starting to take shape, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage and yesterday’s announcement makes it somewhat
more attractive than it was. Much of the criticism of the joint venture related to the nature
of the initial underlying assets, which were largely focused on
very unsexy German apartments. The new acquisitions diversify the joint venture’s portfolio
both in terms of their nature and their geography.

The more people question Macquarie Bank’s ability to manage its
far-flung empire, it seems the faster the deal flow emerges from the
machine, says John Durie in The Fin Review. In recent days,
there’s been the equity raising to acquire 50% of Copenhagen
Airports, asset shuffling and the continued efforts to buy the London
Stock Exchange. And all this deal flow has created a worldwide
reputation for the bank, which means that when someone in the world
wants to spruik an asset by inflating buyer interest, the first name
trotted out is Macquarie Bank.

Inflation has breached the Reserve Bank’s comfort zone, raising the spectre of interest rate rises next year, reports The SMH. Record
petrol prices and a tight labour market have driven annual inflation
above 3% and will keep it there well into next year, economists
have predicted. Official confirmation is expected tomorrow when
the ABS releases its consumer price index for the
September quarter, but businesses are already feeling the squeeze.

The Fin Review reports that plans for a national energy market
could be delayed by up to a decade because the states are backsliding on
the handing over the authority to set prices and services standards to
a new regulator. Also in the AFR, financial planners who mislead
investors about their choice of superannuation funds face tough
penalties, after a survey by the corporate regulator found many
advisors were breaching regulations relating to advice on super and
life insurance.

And Qantas has been warned to expect some hard
bargaining if the airline’s pilots reject an enterprise bargaining
agreement due to go to the vote today, reports The Australian. The leader of a reform group, which last month took control of the
Australian and International Pilots Association’s 40-member committee
of management, said pilots were angry about the proposal to set up
Jetstar International and moves to start an overseas base in Singapore.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed sharply higher overnight, with the
Dow Jones and the S&P 500 (up 19.79 points to 1,199) posting their biggest
one-day gains in six months, after strong earnings and the White
House’s nomination of administration economist Ben Bernanke as the next
Federal Reserve chief. The Dow closed up 169.78 points to 10,385 – MarketWatch has a full report here.

Peter Fray

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