Merger fever lit up the nation’s energy
industry yesterday as Perth-based Alinta launched a lightning $900
million raid on Australian Gas Light, snaring 10% of the stock
in a move aimed at forcing the nation’s largest power company to the
negotiating table, reportsThe Australian.

Alinta’s audacious market
raid should send a clear message to AGL, says Bryan Frith in The Australian: the stake is not big enough of
itself to defeat AGL’s demerger proposal, but that some institutions
supplied the stock suggests they are less than delirious about the
demerger and want the opportunity to consider an alternative.

At least Alinta boss Bob Browning – sent packing last year by AGL
shareholders after offering a merger proposal in October – won’t die
wondering, says Michael Evans in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Having an aggressive regulator can be one of
the most efficient methods of deterring corporate crime, says Stuart Wilson in The Oz. Why, then, is
the Australian Securities and Investments Commission so underfunded?

And surprise surprise, the competition regulator’s court action
against Visy over alleged cartel activity appears likely to
take years to resolve, after lawyers yesterday spent an entire morning
arguing over the confidentiality of documents before the case had even
begun, reports the paper.

After joining the billion-dollar profits club last year, Australia’s
largest steel producer Bluscope Steel was forced to face the reality
of lower steel
prices and higher raw material input costs yesterday, when it posted a 38% fall in net half-year profit to $312
million, reportsThe SMH. But it’s offering
investors some hope that prices have reached a low.

A merger between Australia’s Origin Energy and New Zealand’s Contact Energy is the first attempt to create an Australasian
dual-listed company, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. The benefits of which would be
that the companies can retain their separate legal entities and tax
positions but are able to pool their cash flows and operate at a
management level as one entity.

And finally, Australia’s Macquarie Bank effectively dropped its takeover bid
for the London Stock Exchange overnight, announcing it would
not increase its STG1.5 billion ($3.5 billion) offer or extend the
deadline for acceptances, reports the Financial Review.

Peter Fray

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