Local private equity firm Pacific Equity
Partners is leading a $3.6 billion bid to buy Burns Philp’s breads and
spreads business in a deal that would scuttle the float for Goodman
Fielder and rank as the biggest buy-out in Australian history, reports The Australian. Graeme Hart is now facing a variation on the classic dilemma of
whether to take the money or the box, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. How he decides will provide
insight into his real thoughts about the prospects for Goodman
Fielder and, perhaps, his larger corporate ambitions. Should he choose to proceed with the float, however, the
dalliance with the private equity option and the disruption to the
float will have been worthwhile, given that the firms’ interest in
Goodman tends to validate its value despite the market’s professed

Anything is possible, but it’s difficult to
believe the rumours of a joint Macquarie Bank-Linfox rival bid for
Chris Corrigan’s Patrick Corp, says Bryan Frith in The Australian. Rumours began sweeping the market last Wednesday that Macquarie and
transport group Linfox were considering beating Toll Holdings offer
with a bid of around $8 a share. The logic of a Macquarie-Linfox bid presumably
would be for Macquarie to take the port and stevedoring businesses and
package them in an infrastructure trust, and Linfox to take the
transport operations, including Patrick’s half interest in the Pacific
National rail group. Neither would be an obvious owner of Patrick’s
majority shareholding in the Virgin Blue airline, so it might be sold off.

A bullish outlook for the $10 billion Australian advertising
market was delivered yesterday, despite a continued slowdown in
retail spending and possible cuts in ad budgets, reports The SMH. Steve Allen, managing director of media buying agency Fusion
Strategy, predicted the amount advertisers would spend in the main
media next calendar year would grow by 9.3%, driven mainly
by a booming internet advertising market.

The ATO is watching strippers, sex toy retailers and
brothel owners, who are being traced through their business telephone
numbers and websites for possible tax evasion. Professionals in the
adult services industry are just one group the ATO has begun targeting
under a broad spectrum of new data-matching projects, reports
The Fin Review

And The Australian
reports that payouts to just 40 departing executives have
cost shareholders $294 million over the past six years and better
disclosure is unlikely to stop payments rising further, warns one of
the nation’s leading corporate governance experts.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended mixed overnight on some caution ahead
of key inflation and retail sales data due later in the week. The Dow
Jones ended up 11.13 points at 10,697 – MarketWatch has a full report here.