Meet the new masters of the economic universe – like
Chinese iron ore giant, Sinosteel –who are driving Australia’s
growth, saysThe Australian today.

And meet Australia’s energy wallflower: Queensland Gas chief
Richard Cottee says he feels a little like his younger days at school dances,
waiting to get a girl to agree to dance with him, says The Oz‘s Glenda Korporaal – having launched an unsolicited bid for Sydney Gas in late January.

Meanwhile, the Iraq
grain board had suspended its business relationship with monopoly wheat
exporter AWB Ltd until the Cole inquiry is completed, reports the paper.

At the start of a week when BHP
executives are to appear before Terence Cole’s inquiry into the AWB affair,
it’s beginning to look as if BHP’s original
$US5 million ($A6.8 million) shipment of wheat to Iraq in 1996 was legal –
approved by the federal government late in 1995, says Malcolm Maiden in The Age.

Which is neither here nor there, really, for the ex-Big Australian, which is
set to smash the record for the highest interim profit in Australia with a
first-half figure of more than $US4 billion ($A5.4 billion) when it reports in
two days. And it’s not the only company expected to romp it in, says The SMH.

A bumper Qantas half-year result this week is likely to
inflame the tempers of its maintenance workers, already seething over the
airline’s push to slash overtime pay and possibly retrench thousands of
maintenance jobs.

Today though, it will be the central bank‘s views on the economy that will be
attracting attention, with the Reserve Bank of Australia
releasing its quarterly monetary policy statement.

South Africa’s
Barloworld Ltd has bid $A321 million for rival Australian paint maker Wattyl
Ltd. topping a competing hostile offer from investment firm Allco Equity
Partners Ltd by 17%.

And finance ministers of the world’s
leading G8 nations have failed to agree on reforms to Russia’s
energy market amid fractious talks in Moscow,
reportsThe Times.

Peter Fray

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