The prospects for the looming $2 billion-plus spin-off of
Goodman Fielder from Burns Philp will depend heavily on whether Graeme
Hart and his lieutenant Tom Degnan can persuade the market they have
turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age. Memories of the
chronically overpromising and underdelivering food business remain
strong in a market that also seems to maintain some cynicism towards
Hart and Burns Philp.

Goodman Fielder suffers from a poor market
image, says Bryan Frith in The Australian. It was a poorly performed company when it was acquired two and a half years ago by Burns Philp with a highly leveraged,
fully debt funded $2.2 billion takeover offer and there’s a widespread view that
what is being offered is largely the old mature, low-growth Goodman
Fielder, and any improvement had largely come about through
cost-cutting rather than genuine growth. That view may also have been influenced by the fact that Burns
Philp is to retain the high-value, high-multiple snack foods division,
which includes Uncle Tobys.

Mining giant BHP Billiton is struggling to
maintain record production levels, as it simultaneously works to ramp
up capacity to feed strong world demand for minerals and metals, reports The Australian. BHP reported mixed first-quarter production, with iron ore shipments
hit by heavy rains and a train derailment at its Pilbara operations,
while work on expanding its Hay Point coal terminal in Queensland cut
coal shipments. Nickel production at the Yabulu nickel plant in
Queensland was also held back by expansion work.

And PBL says it’s worth
losing high roller custom at its Australian casinos to entrench its
foothold in the Asian gaming hotspot of Macau, reports The SMH. The media and gaming group is building two expensive casino
resorts in the former Portuguese colony with mogul Lawrence Ho, son
of Macau casino billionaire Stanley Ho. PBL executive chairman James Packer told shareholders yesterday
the Macau casinos, which will open late in 2006 and 2007, would
take VIP business from PBL’s Australian casinos, but it would be worth it to have a shot at other opportunities as gaming
is deregulated in Asia.

The entries in the biggest race at this year’s Melbourne Cup carnival
have endured a daunting preparation, facing off against a record field
backed by more wealth and influence than ever, reports The Fin Review.
With hundreds of sponsors, banks, media companies and law firms vying
for 250 spots on-course, just getting to the starting line in the
corporate marquee stakes has required some serious negotiation and a
heavy wad of cash. Also in the AFR, the Queensland government is planning a $6 billion merger of its two
big power utilities, Ergon Energy and Energex, as it considers a float
of its energy retail business.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended lower for a third session in a
row overnight on concern over the wider implications for the economy of
an ailing General Motors and the impact of a possible indictment of
key Bush administration officials on the president’s economic agenda.
The Dow Jones ended down 115.03 points at 10,229 – MarketWatch has a
full report here.