Telstra is facing the loss of about $1 billion in revenue
after Federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan rejected its demands to stop
the competition regulator cutting the price rivals pay to access its copper
wire network, reports the Financial
. Now, it’s up to ACCC to rule on the price at which
Telstra will sell its so-called unbundled local loop (ULL) to wholesale
customers, says John Durie in the paper’s Chanticleer. A line in the sand will
help competitors negotiate prices, especially considering Telstra has made
clear it is in no mood to help them on its own.

Maybe ULL-type policies are not the way to encourage
facilities-based competition in Australia,
says Durie. But given its present dominance and its desire for a better deal on
access arrangements (a safe-harbour for its fibre-optic rollout), Telstra needs
to work out whether playing hard ball is the best way to achieve its desires.
Meanwhile, today or tomorrow investment banks
will find out who will join UBS in winning a
prized mandate to help the federal government sell about $25 billion worth of
Telstra shares, says Durie, a job garnering a total fee pool of about $100 million.

And in economic news, the US Federal Reserve has given its
strongest indication yet that its 17-month campaign of lifting interest rates
could end early next year, as official rates reach a more neutral level,
reports the Fin.

BHP Billiton and Cazaly
Resources have provoked the ire of other Pilbara players after reaching an
agreement to take iron ore from the unexplored but strategically located
Shovelanna deposit pinched from under the nose of Rio Tinto, reports The Australian. Within hours of the deal being announced, Andrew Forrest’s
Fortescue Metals Group, which is hoping to develop its own Christmas Creek
deposit, lodged a writ with the Federal Court to stop any negotiations with
Cazaly over the project.

And well might Forrest be miffed, he’s missed out on “every midnight pegger’s dream,” says Matthew Stevens in The Oz. Just before 2pm on Tuesday, Cazaly’s Nathan McMahon walked
out of a meeting with BHP Billiton with an
agreement that potentially transforms the investment into a billion-dollar mine
and places McMahon and gold mining partner Clive Jones on the cusp of instant
and serious wealth. The pair of football fanatics, who named the company after South
Melbourne legend Roy
“Up There” Cazaly, own about 22%of the company.

The SMH leads with Lachlan Murdoch’s bad memory, that
comes and goes, but mostly goes on all matters One.Tel – the failed phone
company of which he was a director and in which his family’s News Corporation dropped
close to $600 million. Under heavy questioning in the Supreme Court yesterday
the former News deputy COO said he
remembered little about the specifics of board meetings, his attendence of certain
board meetings, and various emails and phone calls he allegedly had with
One.Tel’s former managing director, Jodee Rich, reports
Jeni Porter. Oops.

Right from the start of Lion Nathan’s unwelcome takeover
offer for Coopers Brewery there was absolutely no doubt this would become a
right royal fight, says Elizabeth Knight in The SMH
loaded with vested interests and underhand tactics. And the treatment of
shareholders by the target board to date has been scandalous.

Meanwhile, the prospectus for the Goodman Fielder $2.5
billion-plus float provides another insight into the financial acumen and asset
trading abilities of New Zealand entrepreneur Graeme Hart, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age. First there’s his phenomenal
ability to identify and rapidly improve undervalued and undermanaged assets.
Then there’s his willingness and ability to trade those assets and achieve very
handsome mark-ups.

On Wall Street,

US stocks closed sharply higher Wednesday in a pre-holiday
rally, boosted by a fall in oil prices linked to energy stockpiles and a rise
in McDonald’s shares on hopes for strong sales of its new holiday gift
cards. The Dow Jones closed up 44.66 points at 10,916 – its highest level in eight months. MarketWatch has the full report here.