Betfair has made its breakthrough, winning the support of the
Tasmanian Government for a licence for its controversial betting
exchange. If the racing industry and mainland governments are to be
believed, that puts the wagering industry and those who feed off it
on the verge of an apocalypse, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. Its impact will be
magnified by the partnership it entered with PBL, which was
conditional on it obtaining a licence to operate in this market.
PBL’s expertise in gambling, its political clout, its ability to
promote its businesses and its burgeoning presence online would
leverage Betfair’s visibility and impact. The incumbents are probably right to be not just afraid, but
very afraid.

Westpac CEO David Morgan hotly disputes the notion that the bank is
ignoring China while his peers are a various stages of following the
global banking community lemming-like into the world’s fastest growing
economy, but he has no plans to follow to CBA and ANZ into taking
minority stakes in Chinese banks, says John Durie in The Fin Review.
As Morgan rightly argues, investments over which you have little
control and where brand risk is high are not, on paper, smart. Then
again, long-term growth in the Australian and New Zealand market is
destined to be a fraction of that in China.

The SMH reports that Telstra faces “a train wreck” if the Government and the
ACCC persist in
destroying its value with their regulatory proposals. At least that’s the view of Phil Burgess, chief adviser and assistant to
Telstra’s chief executive, Sol Trujillo.

While the collapse of such corporate titans as
Enron and WorldCom cost investors hundreds of billions of dollars, it
has spawned a worldwide growth in corporate governance services that is
riding a new wave of shareholder activism, reports The Australian. Once the preserve of marginalised activists and academic researchers,
shareholder activism has morphed into a global business worth $US1
billion a year.

And The Fin Review reports that an unprecented round of executive
poaching among Australia’s top investment banks, fund mangers and
stockbrokers has triggered a salary boom this year. Also in the AFR,
the ATO has vowed to bankrupt more small businesses for failing to pay
their tax debts after commissioner Michael Carmody warned they were
threatening to spiral “out of control.”

On Wall Street, US stocks ended higher overnight on a number of
strong economic reports and solid sales performance from retailers in
October, but a spike in oil prices served as a reminder that inflation
and higher interest rates remain a threat. The Dow Jones rose 49.86 points to 10,522 – MarketWatch has a full report here.