ALINTA has announced a proposal to merge, and has stipulated
the consideration – 1773 Alinta shares for each AGL
share – but it almost certainly has not triggered a statutory obligation to
proceed with its proposal, says Bryan Frith in The Australian.

AGL will enter crucial
talks on a deal with Alinta carrying a subdued profit outlook after posting a
slight dip in first-half profit caused by higher financing costs, reports the
paper
.
But AGL said it would continue to pursue its
goal of demerging its operations into separate energy and infrastructure
businesses.

But even if Alinta chief Bob Browning’s proposal doesn’t
work, it’s almost certain that he has a plan B, and probably a plan C, says
Stephen Bartholomeusz
in The Smage. It’s beyond reason that
a $2.9 billion company would outlay $1.8 billion of cash to acquire a 20% stake
in a company more than three times its size without a fallback strategy.

Meanwhile, the AGL and
Alinta boards would do well to ensure that the battle for control of AGL
doesn’t become a personality fight between the aggressive Browning of Alinta and
AGL’s chief executive elect, Paul Anthony
says Elizabeth Knight in The SMH.

In other merger news, Toll Holdings’s offer for
Patrick Corporation may well have turned out much more positively for the
truckers if Paul Little’s final offer to the
competition regulator had been his first, says Matthew Stevens in the Oz.

Promina chief Michael Wilkins didn’t please everyone with
his earnings statement (and record profit and share price)
yesterday, says John Durie in the Financial
Review
‘s Chanticleer (not online). But quibbles aside, the insurer is
living up to the market’s faith and has a series of assets in the challenger
class that offer plenty of room for growth.

And look out BHP, says
Durie. If events follow as planned, the Cole inquiry will be turning its
attention to the Big Australian’s role in helping AWB ship more wheat to Iraq.

Australia’s
commodity exports are likely to surge by another $10 billion in 2006-07 and
then hold that level for the rest of the decade, reportsThe Age – with a lower dollar and soaring mineral exports expected
to offset mineral prices “slumping” back to normal.

Also in the Smage,
Alan Kohler says it’s “surely only a matter of time before Macquarie Bank’s
management of its stable of infrastructure funds begins to fall like dominoes.”

In other news, Japan
is waking from its slumber…
A Holden Commodore made in Korea?…
PBL execs to be spared from C7 trial
And the market sulks after Google’s CFO flags a slowdown in online advertising.

On Wall Street, US
stocks closed sharply lower
Tuesday, the final trading session of February,
thanks to a number of weak economic reports. The Dow Jones fell 104.14 points
to close at 10,993.41, but rose 1.2% in February and 2.6% in the year to date.

Peter Fray

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