BUSINESS AND FINANCE BRIEFS

Uncertainty over News Corp.
Nanjing Night Net

SYDNEY – Investors will remain cautious about Rupert Murdoch’s media empire until he does something about Liberty Media Corp. ‘s threatening presence on News Corp. Inc.’s share register.

Although Mr Murdoch said on Thursday that the issue with Liberty’s owner, John Malone, would be resolved within three months, analysts said the uncertainty was hanging over News Corp.’s stock.

“We believe that Liberty’s large voting stake and the possibility that News Corp. will pay a premium to regain these votes has been a significant overhang,” Merrill Lynch said in a research report.

Investors hope Mr Murdoch will banish takeover fears by buying back some of the 18 per cent News Corp. stake that Mr Malone’s cable group bought behind Mr Murdoch’s back last year.

“Until the situation is resolved, investors will likely remain concerned over the possibility that News Corp. will purchase one of Liberty’s operating assets as part of a package deal to regain Liberty’s News Corp. shares,” Merrill Lynch said.

Investors might view News Corp as “tainted” if it bought an asset that it would not otherwise buy just to get back its voting stock, the broker said.

Sunleisure float cancelled

SYDNEY – The $200 million float of tourism and leisure entity Sunleisure yesterday became the latest victim of a market that has lost its appetite for property groups.

Property developer Sunland Group Ltd issued a profit downgrade after it and finance and investment manager City Pacific Ltd cancelled the float due to “adverse market conditions”.

The move came just three days after a profit warning by developer Mirvac Group and data showing a sharp drop in March building approvals sparked selling in companies with exposure to residential property.

Sunland managing director Soheil Abedian said the global and domestic market’s former passion for small cap companies had waned.

“Our segment of the industry, property, is really severely suffering here in Australia because of the downturn in the property sector, so we had to act on that, and we did,” Mr Abedian said.

Sunland’s stock was hammered after the Gold Coast-based property developer warned its profit result would be impacted because it would no longer get additional income from the float of Sunleisure. The company’s shares fell 26c to $1.29.

New excitement for Judge

BRISBANE – Bruce Judge was reluctant to say it but the former Ariadne boss was excited about presiding over the demise of Big Kev’s Ltd and the birth of his new publicly listed company.

Big Kev’s shareholders yesterday voted to wrap up the cleaning business and rename it Impact Capital Ltd – a pre-settlement lending company headed by Mr Judge.

Big Kev’s was listed in 2001 by founder and chairman Kevin “Big Kev” McQuay – known for his loud shirts and catchcry: “I’m excited”.

Asked whether he was now excited, Mr Judge, who is Impact Capital’s executive chairman, said “yes and no”.

“I’m excited because I love the project and I love the people we are working with,” he said.

“I’m also conscious of the obligation and I know we have to make this work and I’m sure we will.”

Mr McQuay elected not to witness the end of his company, which never made a profit during its life on the Australian Stock Exchange.

But for Mr Judge it marked a rebirth for the New Zealand corporate raider, who in the 1980s presided over the demise of the company Ariadne – which, at the time, recorded Australia’s largest corporate loss.

Commitment to AAPT confirmed

SYDNEY – Telecom Corp. of New Zealand Ltd remains committed to its Australian business AAPT, despite its failure to grow revenues.

Even though AAPT’s revenues and earnings were virtually flat during the first nine months of the year, Telecom NZ is continuing to pour more money into the business to try to make it grow.

“We are committed to our presence in Australia,” Telecom NZ chief executive Theresa Gattung said yesterday. “We are starting to see some encouraging signs in the underlying metrics of the business and we think it is well worth having a crack at trying to see if we can accelerate that momentum.”

Telecom NZ is committing $NZ105 million this financial year and $NZ140 million next year in capital expenditure for the Australian business.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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