Press digest australian business news april 16

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Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (this site)Telecommunications group Telstra is poised to axe more jobs at its Sensis directories business in a bid to arrest the division's falling revenue and profitability. Sensis, owner of the White Pages and Yellow Pages directories and operators of the Citysearch and Whereis websites, may be forced to close its offices in New South Wales' Coffs Harbour and Ballina, but observers say the company will not make a final decision before consulting with unions and employees. Page 15.-- Analysis from investment bank JPMorgan reveals that Australia's four major banks are likely to report a combined profit of A$12.5 billion for the first six months of the 2011-12 financial year, surpassing the A$12 billion combined profit announced a year prior. Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday used the figures to attack Australia and New Zealand Banking Group for raising variable mortgage rates without reference to the Reserve Bank of Australia although it was making a "massive profit". Page 15.-- Mark Adamson, chief executive of group laminates and panels at Fletcher Building, said the building and materials manufacturer would be seeking to acquire production assets in India to keep up with demand. "We have gone through a process and identified a number of potential companies who we are in negotiations with  I would be looking to take a proposal to the board for a laminate plant probably in the next six months," Mr Adamson added. Page 17.-- The new managing director of Treasury Wine Estate's Rosemount wine label, Angus McPherson, has declared that the label could improve performance by aiming at key markets, like the United States, and encouraging more consumers to taste the product. "One of the keys in returning Rosemount to its success is what is in the bottle," Mr McPherson, a former export manager for Casella Wines, said. Page 17.-- THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)Australia and New Zealand Banking Group has increased its small business lending and variable home loan rates in a move that analysts predict will further compel the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates when it meets next month. "The last thing the economy needs now is higher interest rates," Shane Oliver, chief economist and head of investment strategy at diversified financial group AMP Capital, said. Page 19.

-- The diamond operations of global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are being sought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), with observers saying that the private equity firm could then merge the assets into a single entity, creating a multi-billion-dollar corporation to rival the diamond industry's largest companies. A newspaper report has identified KKR as being the frontrunner to acquire BHP's US$750 million Canadian diamond asset, which could then spark a follow-up bid for Rio's US$2 billion diamond business. Page 19.-- Geoff Plummer, chief executive of steel manufacturer Arrium, said the firm's former title, OneSteel, had been "an impediment in recent years in the marketing of the company". Observers say many listed companies have attempted to change their name, but have left clients unimpressed due to their failure to address the core issues at the heart of the business. "Clearly changing a name alone is never going to be enough  It needs to be a signal of change, not change in its own right," Tom Brigstocke from brand strategy firm Principals said. Page 19.-- The general manager of fresh chicken store franchise Lenard's, Paul Lange, has revealed that one of the company's largest imposts is the rising cost of rent. "We got one [rent rise] recently that is an increase of 70 percent," Mr Lange said. The company struck a deal with wholesaler Inghams to have the supplier handle more of the manufacturing process, including the deboning of chickens, to simplify business so the franchise owners can concentrate more on serving customers and monitoring their staff. Page 21.--

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)The legal stoush over the collapse of Storm Financial in the Federal Court last week is starting to revolve around the definition of a consumer after Macquarie Bank and Bank of Queensland challenged whether people who borrow to invest qualify. Last month, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) was ordered by a judge to prove that a couple met the criteria to lodge a claim contained in under the ASIC Act's ban on unconscionable conduct. Page B1.-- Westpac Banking Corporation's chief executive, Gail Kelly, is expected to announce a strategy to increase the bank's market share in the deposits, wealth management and small-to-medium business lending sectors when Westpac's first-half profit figures are revealed next month. Observers say Peter Hanlon, senior group executive at Westpac, has been asked to oversee the strategy which will also lay the foundation for the launch of Australian Financial Services, a division that will incorporate BT Wealth, St George bank and Westpac's retail brands. Page B1.-- Researchers have discovered that Australia's black economy - the term for the myriad of informal, illegitimate and illegal transactions that evade the Australian Taxation Office - could be worth A$300 billion annually. RMIT University's deputy head of the school of management, Associate Professor Sharif As-Saber, added that Australian miners were part of the black economy as they had been "given too much freedom and power because of their money". Page B3.

-- Daryl Johnson, executive general manager of nabbusiness, yesterday said it was critical for small business owners to prepare in advance for a possible sale of their company. "Depending on how complicated the business is, it could take up to three years to get it in the right shape for sale," Mr Johnson added. Mark Pollock, partner at tax and advisory firm BDO Australia's private client practice, said small business owners could miss out on opportunities to sell "if they haven't done all the planning" beforehand. Page B6.-- THE AGE (this site)The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it will increase its scrutiny of financial services advertisements in regional areas in a bid to catch rogue operators. "The current exercise is to enhance the coverage of regional media again, including electronic and print publications," a spokesman for ASIC said. The corporate regulator is looking for a media monitoring company capable of providing access to a database of radio, television and print ads from around the country, according to the tender documents. Page B3.-- Air conditioning and refrigeration firm Hastie Group has filed a lawsuit in Dubai to prevent a customer from cashing in more than A$6 million in construction bonds. Hastie claimed last week that it was owed more than A$8.5 million from the project's builder Dutco Balfour, a subsidiary of British firm Balfour Beatty due to underpayments on its A$50 million contract to develop the Novotel and the Ibis hotels. Page B3.-- Real estate group Colliers International has revealed in a new white paper that the property values and income of Victorian clubs and pubs could be threatened by ambiguity surrounding changes to legislation affecting the gaming sector. According to the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, around A$7.26 million a day was spent on gaming in the 2010-11 financial year, while 25,000 individuals are estimated to work in clubs and pubs with gaming machines. Page B9.-- A local architect has taken inspiration from Milan, Italy, to help design a A$65 million development in a Melbourne suburb. "Tones found in the vintage posters from the 1950s are echoed in the kitchen splashbacks and shelving units," Anne Lau, associate director at Hayball, said. The development will house 118 apartment spread over seven levels, with marketing on the project due to launch this week. Page B9.--