Woolworths boss Roger Corbett has raised the stakes for
rival Coles Myer with a 22% increase in first-half profit, dismissing Coles’s
attempt to duplicate his success as “fiddling around”, reportsThe Australian.

When it comes to highlighting a company’s superiority over
its competitors few do it better that Corbett, says John Durie in the Financial Review (not online). The fact is, as Corbett prepares to hand over the reins, he has the company running well.

One of the more persistent rumours doing the rounds last
week was that Corbett would use yesterday’s results announcement to defer, again,
his retirement as Woolworths chief, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. He and his board have,
however, sensibly resisted the temptation.

Meanwhile, at some point over the next 12 months, ANZ
chairman Charles Goode, Westpac chairman Leon Davis and Rio Tinto chairman Paul
Skinner will have to do what James Strong at Woolworths is going through now,
says Matthew Stevens in The Oz – lead
the board through the delicate task of replacing a highly successful chief
executive.

On the corporate takeovers of the moment, all indications are that Wattyl
shareholders should resign themselves to a long wait before they know the
outcome of the contest for their company, says Bryan Frith in The Australian. And meanwhile,
says Durie, the Alinta-AGL saga is quickly
descending into farce.

Just another tax review, or the start of fundamental tax
reform? That’s the question being asked in the wake of Treasurer Peter
Costello’s announcement on Sunday of a major review of Australia’s
tax system, says Katie Lahey in The Age. When a Treasurer who’s
held power for ten years unveils an inquiry with a one-month reporting
deadline, you have to wonder what’s going on, says Durie in the Fin.

What asbestos? James Hardie Industries’ US fibre cement business
clocks a stunning 106% increase in quarterly profit. And in the Enron trial, the former chief accountant of the company’s wholesale
energy-trading unit testifies that he dipped into reserve accounts set up for
problem contracts to illegally pad earnings in 2000.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed higher Monday after a
pullback in crude-oil prices. The Dow Jones closed up 35.70 points at 11,097.55.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW