Lion Nathan’s hostile $420 million bid for
Coopers Brewery received a huge boost yesterday when
the competition regulator gave its approval for the offer to go ahead
and the Takeovers Panel delayed a shareholder vote that could kill off
the bid, reports The Australian. ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel
said the regulator wouldn’t oppose the bid because the majority of
competition in the beer market was between Lion and Foster’s Group –
while Coopers had just 2 per cent of the national market.

Virgin Blue is making a late strong bid to head off Singapore
Airlines’ push to enter the Pacific route, arguing that Virgin
could provide a low-cost and “Australian” competitor to Qantas, reports The Age. With cabinet expected to consider Singapore Airlines’
application next week, Virgin Blue has been lobbying most cabinet
ministers and yesterday addressed the Government’s “friends of
tourism” committee. And still reeling from the profit downgrade it issued six weeks ago,
Flight Centre copped another clobbering yesterday after Qantas
announced it would again slash the commissions it pays to travel
agents, reports The Smage.

A week into the ASX’s controversial new regime of opaque trading
and the market is still there and functioning, it appears, rather
well, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. Although it is far too early to come to any definitive
conclusion about the withdrawal of the broker IDs from the market,
there was far more controversy before the change than there has
been since.

The Fin Review reports that the federal government is making
major changes to its information technology outsourcing program in a
bit to slash costs and deliver more work to local firms, as it decides
the future of $3 billion of contracts in the coming months. And Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo has been
caught up at the edges of France’s biggest corporate collusion scandal
after his former company Orange and others were fined a record E534
million by the French regulator, reports The Australian. France’s Conseil de Concurrence (competition commission) has uncovered
a history of six years of sharing “detailed and confidential”
information between Orange, a France Telecom subsidiary, and rivals SFR
and Bouyges between 1997 and 2003.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended lower overnight, hurt by a rise in
oil prices, a jump in long-term interest rates and weaker-than-expected
data. The Dow Jones was down 42.5 points at 10,835 – MarketWatch has a full report here.