A budding price war in the IVF sector has led to lower treatment prices at one of Australia’s largest providers but costs for consumers could still go lower, according to one of the industry’s pioneers.
Nanjing Night Net

Two of Australia’s largest IVF providers – Virtus Health and Monash IVF – have this week reported sluggish earnings as fewer Australians seek reproductive assistance and as they battle increasing competition from a low-cost operator, Primary Health Care.

Virtus shares tumbled as much as 7.5 per cent on Tuesday after the group missed analyst forecasts by posting a 14.6 per cent fall in net profit to $28.1 million. On Monday, Monash IVF’s shares dived 8.7 per cent on its results and lacklustre 2018 outlook.

Virtus shares closed down 3.2 per cent at $5.48.

Virtus chief executive Sue Channon said competition from lower-cost providers has led to Virtus adjusting the cost of treatments at its cheaper The Fertility Centre clinics to between $900 and $1500 out-of-pocket costs.

This compares to the average out-of-pocket cost of $800 at a Primary clinic.

“The key thing to note is the services are provided by fertility specialists,” Ms Channon said.

Monash IVF does not offer a lower cost option.

Professor Alan Trounson, who was one of the scientists who created the first IVF baby, told BusinessDay prices are still too high.

“I do think the price could go lower. A lot of clinics set the price at the rebate price,” Dr Trounson said.

“At least for younger patients, where the woman is under 38 years of age and the men are in their late 40s, their fertility is pretty strong and I think they could be treated in a much more economical manner than they are currently being treated.”

Dr Trounson, who helped found Monash IVF but has sold out of the company, said people with complex infertility issues needed more expensive care.

Ms Channon said low-cost fertility treatments made up 15 per cent of the company’s total IVF cycles in 2017, an increase on 13 per cent in 2016.

“The average age of our patients is 37 and they have complex fertility issues and so the low-cost options – both ours, bulk-billed and everyone else who provides low-cost services – are not for everybody,” she said.

Virtus will pay a final fully franked dividend of 12?? per share on October 13. During the year its revenue fell 1.8 per cent to $256.5 million. Australian earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation dropped 7.6 per cent to $65.8 million.

Driving the earnings fall was a 3.7 per cent decrease in IVF cycles on a like-for-like basis. Total IVF cycles were down 1.2 per cent in Australia over the year to June 2017.

Ms Channon said the sector was expected to continue to produce compound average growth rates of between 2 per cent and 3 per cent as it had over the past five years.

Morningstar analyst Chris Kallos said Virtus’ results had missed market consensus and the company’s outlook for growth rates in the sector coupled with weaker-than-expected growth in its low-cost option business had seen investors recalibrate the company’s overall growth prospects.

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

Christchurch: Wallabies coaches Michael Cheika and Mick Byrne have responded to stinging criticism from Australian rugby legend Michael Lynagh, conceding the team’s skills weren’t up to scratch against New Zealand last Saturday.
Nanjing Night Net

Byrne, however, insists there has been a marked improvement in overall skills since he took over last year and has explained that time is required to see results.

Following Australia’s 54-34 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney, Lynagh, who represented the Wallabies in 72 games from 1984 to 1995, could not hold back his frustration after the match.

“I can’t overestimate how angry I am at seeing an Australian team have skills that are non-existent,” Lynagh said on Sky Sports. “Passing and catching and making tackles and trusting the bloke beside you are pretty basic even at schoolboy level. Australia has had a month to work together to try and create stuff and do things and they come up with that in the first 40. Very, very disappointing.”

Speaking on Tuesday at Wallabies training in Christchurch, Cheika had little to say when pressed on Lynagh’s comments.

“Where’s he? Over in England isn’t he?” Cheika said. “If that’s how he feels, [we] can’t change it except for what we do on the field.

“There’s nothing else I can say to it, really.”

Byrne, a former All Blacks skills coach, gave an honest appraisal when asked for a response to the criticism.

“When you’re talking about a dropped pass or a missed tackle they’re skillsets and yeah, they weren’t up to scratch,” Byrne said. “When you’re out there as a group working on changing habits, there is a period of time when sometimes it’s not acceptable. I understand that.

“I honestly believe that when you’re inside, we know where we are going with it. We are not executing some of the things we’d like to but we are trying to get better every day.

“When you look at the game and from a scoreboard point of view, some of the errors we made, we took some great learnings.”

Byrne says he can understand the public’s frustration in the aftermath of a particularly sobering loss to the All Blacks but believes there are positive signs coming out of the Wallabies from a skills perspective.

“The improvements have been fantastic,” Byrne said. “We are seeing huge improvements there and it’s going to be persistence that will start to transfer it out into the game.

“I understand people’s frustrations that they’re not seeing it straight away. Maybe that’s a thing of society; there’s an instant gratification that’s everybody is after. But this is just hard work that takes time.”

Byrne, known affectionately as “Mick the Kick”, pointed to the fact that the All Blacks also needed time to see genuine improvements when he first came on board.

“If you go back, 2007 wasn’t a flash year for us trying to get things right but certainly when it clicks into gear it happens and when you turn the corner you turn it pretty quickly,” Byrne said. “The key is perseverance and these boys’ energy to do that has been tremendous.”

Meanwhile, recent Wallabies debutant Curtis Rona said there were “highs and lows” in his first outing in a gold jersey but his hunger to remain on the wing has well and truly remained.

If Dane Haylett-Petty is cleared of a biceps injury, which is likely, Rona will probably have to make way for his Western Force teammate.

“He’s got a good chance of being fit and it’ll be massive for the team if he’s ready to go,” Rona said. “In every game he’s played for Australia he’s been exceptional.”

Rona said in such tough times for Australian rugby, fans needed to show their support rather than bag the national team.

“What makes the game more important is if they stick it out with us and get behind us and encourage us and be positive more than negative,” Rona said. “That’s what we need in times like this.

“It’s all right for supporters to jump on a winning streak but when it’s times like this, against the best team in the world, we need people to support us and show some positivity coming into these games.”

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

One of the two Wisconsin teenage girls charged in the 2014 Slender Man stabbing of a classmate has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Nanjing Night Net

Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, who were both aged 12 at the time of the attack, were charged as adults with first-degree intentional homicide on the attack on Payton Leutner, who was stabbed 19 times and left for dead in a park during a sleepover party.

Both girls faced up to 45 years in prison, if convicted. The teenagers entered an insanity plea.

Weier, now 15, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree homicide as a party to a crime, with use of a deadly weapon.

The court was told that the victim’s family supported the plea arrangement.

Weier will face a trial next month to establish the state of her mental health. If found guilty she could face up to 10 years in prison, however, if the jury found she was suffering mental illness at the time of the attempted killing, the 15-year-old will be sectioned to three years in a psychiatric hospital.

At the time of the attack, both girls told detectives they were acting to appease or impress Slender Man, an online urban legend the girls said they believed would harm them or their families if they didn’t kill Leutner.

For the first time since her arrest, Weier, now a much more mature looking and sounding teenager, spoke at some length in court. She had to explain to the judge that she understood what she had done, and the consequences of pleading guilty to the new charge.

Weier also told the court for the first time that she feared Morgan Geyser, her co-defendant, would return to Waukesha and kill her if Weier didn’t try to flee with her after the actual stabbing occurred.

Geyser pleased not guilty by reason of mental disease to attempted homicide chargers. Weier initially entered the same plea.

Luetner was found bleeding in a park by a passing cyclist. She was stabbed during a game of hide-and-seek after Geyser’s 12th birthday sleepover the night before.

With Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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

Paddle Pop, Magnum and Golden Gaytime maker Streets ice cream faces accusations of using “industrial blackmail” to push through cuts to staff wages and conditions.
Nanjing Night Net

Unilever, the multinational company that owns Streets, has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate an expired enterprise agreement covering factory workers in the western Sydney suburb of Minto.

The company said the decision was made after “careful consideration of all options to create more flexible working conditions and enhance the competitiveness and viability of the factory in the longer-term, which is ultimately in the best interest of employees and the company”.

However, the union estimates the move would cut workers’ take-home pay by 46 per cent, a claim Unilever said in a statement had “no basis in fact”.

Steve Murphy, the assistant secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, said 145 Streets factory workers represented by the union faced an uncertain future.

“The nuclear option of terminating the agreement and cutting their workers’ pay will not be accepted by our members or the consumers of their products,” he said.

Mr Murphy said workers had been trying to negotiate a new agreement that improved productivity as well as pay and conditions. He urged Streets to return to the negotiating table.

But Unilever said the AMWU and Unilever would “all get to have a say and be heard” as part of the Fair Work Commission process.

The AMWU said Unilever’s application to have the Streets Minto factory enterprise agreement terminated would, if successful, mean workers would revert to the modern food award.

It estimates workers’ pay would be cut from $40.18 an hour to $22.43. Including changes to shifts, it said this would result in an overall annual pay cut of 46 per cent.

The union said workers could also face weaker pay rates for overtime and reductions in leave entitlements and flexible shifts.

The ACTU described the company threat to terminate the enterprise agreement as “industrial blackmail”.

“This is a new tool in the employers’ bargaining shed,” ACTU president Ged Kearney said.

“More and more, we are seeing employers use this tactic whereby they introduce a new enterprise bargaining agreement that they know will be unacceptable to the employees.

“They stretch out bargaining over and over and force the employees to vote down unacceptable agreements and then say ‘we can’t come to an agreement’ and apply to the Fair Work Commission for a termination.”

Ms Kearney said this left employees with a choice between accepting a new agreement that cut their pay below current levels, or being forced onto an award that paid them even less.

“They are using it as industrial blackmail,” she said.

“You are asked to choose between a pay cut and a worse pay cut.

“This tactic is driving down wages, trashing the bargaining system and making an absolute joke of any industrial relations protections that workers might have.”

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

It is hard to believe activist shareholder Elliott Management is about to stop agitating for change at BHP now the company has caved in to its demands to ditch its US oil and gas shale assets.
Nanjing Night Net

Quite the opposite. It will be emboldened to pursue other demands it thinks necessary for BHP to clean up its act.

It is too simple to assume that because BHP delivered a massive boost in underlying profits to $US6.7 billion ($8.5 billion), from $US1.2 billion last year, and more than tripled the dividend to shareholders that this would provide it sufficient armour to push Elliott into retreat.

First, this is because the overwhelming majority of the improved profit performance was due to higher prices in the commodities BHP mines and, second, because despite the massive jump in profit, it came in below what the market was expecting.

Sure, BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has been doing a good job improving efficiency, reducing debt and trimming costs and capital outlays but Elliott wants more structural change.

In particular, it wants BHP to get out of the oil business altogether and at this stage the company won’t have a bar of it.

Neither will BHP acquiesce to Elliott’s push to collapse the dual-listed structure.

Having said that, Elliott has scored plenty of goals in its BHP game since the starting whistle sounded earlier this year.

The most important was BHP’s decision to sell the onshore oil/gas shale (unconventional) assets in the US.

While BHP is dressing up this announcement as its own decision – rather than a result of pressure from Elliott and some of its supporting fellow shareholders – the fact is that BHP first responded to this demand in April with a firm no.

In BHP’s initial response to rejecting this part of the Elliott proposal, it said among other things: “Onshore US expected to be free cash flow positive in FY17 and poised for growth as prices recover.”

On Monday, Mackenzie played the debate differently, saying that it had been going through the process of how to deal with these assets for years. He said the reason for selling was because the company couldn’t find additional shale assets to acquire in order to bulk up that division.

But it appears most likely that BHP had wanted to hold on to these assets in order to improve them to claw back some of the billions of capital blown up buying them. It paid $US20 billion for the assets and spent a further $US17 billion developing them – mostly under Mackenzie’s predecessor, Marius Kloppers.

However, Mackenzie did concede that the views of shareholders were always taken into account.

Meanwhile, an additional Elliott goal was revealed on Tuesday – the decision about developing BHP’s potash business would now be put on hold for a few years rather than going to the board for final approval next year.

Elliott had been hugely critical of BHP taking the plunge into potash on the basis that there was a risk of blowing up more capital, particularly given the current price of this commodity.

Elliott was also successful in its push for BHP to appoint a well-credentialled, cleanskin chairman to take over later this year when Jac Nasser retires. Although BHP may have done this without prodding.

There are a range of views from analysts and shareholders on whether BHP should unify its capital structure, but the majority are not in favour.

There are also plenty of experts looking at how much the shale assets are worth, (some say upwards of $US11 billion), how long it will take to sell them, how a deal could be structured and what it will mean for BHP earnings.

Mackenzie has a preference for a trade sale, but will look at other options.

A report last month by Macquarie found “in aggregate, we find that the valuation of the US onshore petroleum business is ~$US10 billion, driven mainly by the Permian and Eagle Ford. However, our analysis includes a number of assumptions, and risks to execution exist in achieving that value, which when taken into account, provide a more moderate view on valuation of $US8-10 billion for the business”.

It also said: “Shale sale is earnings accretive but value neutral: A sale of the shale assets for $US8 billion would be valuation neutral but deliver a material improvement to group earnings and cash flow. Our shale sale scenario delivers 10-25 per cent earnings per share upgrades for full year 19-21 and a 20 per cent reduction in capex.”

The bottom line is that BHP doesn’t want to hand over the company’s future strategy to Elliott (a 5 per cent shareholder).

Mackenzie is steadfast in his views that the conventional petroleum business is working well and delivering good returns and that there will be plenty more of that in the coming years.

He says there will be plenty of time (a couple of decades) of puffing on this cigar because electric cars will change the dynamics of the oil industry.

Not everyone agrees.

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

Ian Thorpe and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in Tokyo on August 22. Ian Thorpe is an ambassador for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo supplied. Photos via email from Kirsty Needham.Tokyo: NSWPremier Gladys Berejiklian says she wants to see bullet trains in NSW, reversing her previous scepticism of high speed rail.
Nanjing Night Net

Ms Berejiklian told the Herald: “Of course we would love to see high speed rail servicing our State but for this to be viable it would need to travel beyond NSW and it would require federal involvement.”

The Premier has raised the prospect of bullet trains for NSW, but only if a high-speed rail network crossed the state border and connected major cities.

Ms Berejiklian had previously been cold on the idea of high-speed rail, which is now common in Asia and could significantly cut travel time between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

But two days of meetings in Tokyo, the home of the bullet train, with Japan’s top bankers appear to have prompted the shift in her position.

“I think it is getting closer and closer to the time we can start thinking about having fast rail services in NSW,” Ms Berejiklian told a business audience in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“It would have to be beyond the boundaries of one state to make it viable, I think. It would have to be potentially be a Sydney-Melbourne service to make it viable.”

She acknowledged her attitude change, recalling the last time she was in Tokyo as transport minister she had told people “don’t hold your breath” waiting for fast rail to come to Australia.

But Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday NSW’s train services were “in an evolution” and catching up to Japan, which was at least a generation ahead of the world.

Bullet trains travel at speeds of 240-320 kilometres an hour and could cut the travel time between Sydney and Melbourne to less than three hours.

Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester travelled on a high-speed train in China last month and said the experience was “quite staggering”, and Australia was “envious” of the way China’s high-speed trains had not only shortened the travel time between Chinese cities but sped up the entire rail network.

A fortnight before his high-speed rail trip, Mr Chester had also poured cold water on bullet trains in Australia, saying high-speed rail was “a long way off in the future”.

High-speed rail has long been debated in Australia, but nothing has been done because of the perception Australia’s sparse population meant the service wouldn’t be economically viable.

But an Infrastructure Australia report last month concluded population growth would make a Sydney-to-Melbourne high-speed rail link viable by 2032.

It warned state governments needed to act in the next three to five years to secure a land corridor for a high-speed rail route, at an estimated cost of $720 million, before rising property prices made it unaffordable.

Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Burrell complained high-speed rail was continually pushed to the bottom of government priority lists.

Japanese and Chinese rail companies could be expected to be competing bidders, should Australia proceed with its first high-speed rail line.

Mitsui executives met with Ms Berejiklian on Monday and gave her a copy of a press clipping from the August 20, 1901, edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, which recorded the arrival of Japanese merchant Mr C. Asano of the trading house Mitsui Busan Keisha in Sydney to look for business opportunities.

Mr Asano told the Herald reporter he would travel to Melbourne by Japanese steamer, and return by train. Mitsui is part of a consortium, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia,that was pushing a privately funded bid for high speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne earlier this year.

Mitsui and bullet train operator East Japan Railway this month struck a deal in Britain to run inter-regional services and a Birmingham metro, and are competing for a British high-speed rail contract. HongKong’s MTR and a Chinese rail company are bidding for a second British high-speed rail tender.

MTR will operate NSW’s first private railway, the Sydney Metro North West. Federal governments have previously released reports into high-speed rail in 2011 and 2013.

The Turnbull government is expected to call for proposals next month to develop business cases for faster inter city rail connections, although not necessarily bullet trains.

Ms Berejiklian said high speed rail was expensive and “all relevant options” would need to be considered to improve transport to regional areas and between major cities.

“This includes improving the performance of existing networks, rather than solely focusing on new alternative infrastructure,” she told Fairfax Media.

She said Australia’s small population was challenging and this meant to get faster trains, they “can’t stop everywhere”.

She said the punctuality of services and “selflessness” of staff working in Japan’s transport system had inspired her as minister to try to change the culture of the Sydney transport system.

“These were notions that had been lost on NSW for some time… I am very proud of the fact we have changed that culture in NSW. We have a much more customer centric organisation.”

Former Olympian Ian Thorpe joined Ms Berejiklian on Tuesday to tour an Olympic swimming venue in Tokyo, and later recycled his mobile phone in a ceremony with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

Tokyo is turning the gold and silver from recycled mobile phones into medals for the 2020 Olympics to send a message of sustainability.

Thorpe is an ambassador for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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

New Lambton’s legion of girl players now have a WPL team to aim for.Northern NSW Football boss David Eland says New Lambton’s elevation to the Women’s Premier League next year is recognition of the club’s strength.
Nanjing Night Net

The region’s top-flight women’s competition will revert toeight teams afterstarting with six in 2009 and rising to eight in 2015.

Valentine Phoenix withdrew at the end of that season, and the WPL has been a seven-team league with a bye round for the past two years.

Eland said the Eagles were one of the biggest clubs in the region and deserved their place in the WPL.

The WPL’s youth age groups will also change in 2018, shifting from 14s, 16s and 18s to 14s, 17s and 20s.

“We are getting back to eight teams, which is important,” Eland said.

“I think having only seven teams and a bye has been a bit limiting, so expanding to the eighth team is fantastic.

“They’re a huge club, and I’ve got no doubt they’ve got the capacity to fill the grades.

“They’ll probably take a while to settle into the WPL, particularly into first grade.

“The other big change is we are changing the ages around a little bit, which we’ve done in consultation with the clubs.

“It will make it a bit easier for the clubs to form their sides.

“I think that will really add to next year, having the eighth club in, and continuing to work with all the clubs towards that NPL [National Premier League] status in 2021.”

Eland described this year’s grand final, won by Merewether with a stunning fightback at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Sunday, as an “absolutely fantastic game”.

“I think year on year the status of the grand final has built and this year is no exception,” Eland said after United’s 4-3 win over defending champions Warners Bay.

“It’s fantastic that they can come and play at Edgeworth.It’s one of the better venues, probably second only to Magic Park.

“The other pleasing thing about the WPL is how the clubs are really developing now, and that’s why we are now really focusedon transitioning to be a division ofthe NPL in a few years’ time.”

Eland was also excited for the federation to be hosting the inaugural NNSWF Women’s State Cup at Speers Point from September 22 to 24.

“We’re really looking forward to that weekend. It will be another great opportunity to showcase women’s football,” he said.

Meanwhile, four Emerging Jets,Annalee Grove, Hannah Jones, Molly Arens and Tessa Tamplin, have been picked in a Junior Matildas camp in Canberra next week.

National under-17 women’s coach Rae Dower will use the 23-player camp at the Australian Institute of Sport to choose her final squad for the AFC U16 Championship in Thailand in September.

Read More →

FALLING INTO PLACE: Job Centre Australia Ltd. (JCAL) is a not for profit, community based organisation providing employment, training and NDIS supports to help people like Dominic achieve their goals.
Nanjing Night Net

National Skills Week (August 28-September 3) highlights the opportunities available working through Australia’s vocational education and training sector, the NDIS and employment services.

Dominic dreams of working in events management and knows that gaining skills and qualifications are the key to turning his dreams into reality.

After completing a Certificate III in Events Management through Hunter TAFE, Dominic is studying toward attaining his Diploma in Events Management.

Throughout his studies, Dominic completed work experience at Variety, the Children’s Charity in which he is now a permanent volunteer.

To achieve his goal, Dominic identified the need to work on his social skills and after completing Year 12, registered with Job Centre Australia Choice and Control, specifically to take part in the NDIS Social and Community participation package.

Dominic attends the Job Centre Australia program each Friday where he has made new friends and had the opportunity to try new activities, whilst getting out and about in the community.

The group have a busy schedule of events which are all aimed at allowing participants to express themselves, gain confidence socially and make new friends in a safe environment.

Some of the activities Dominic has been involved in have included group laser tag, bowling, going to the movies and BBQ picnic lunches.

“Dominic has become more social and confident when in the community and now, also in the workplace”, Job Centre Australia’s, Jessica Wallace, said.

During his time with Job Centre, Dominic turned his attention to trying to gain employment, to support himself financially as he worked toward completing his diploma.

Through Job Centre Australia’s Disability Employment Service and Golden Opportunities Program, Dominic was employed at McDonalds Swansea.

“We’re so proud of all he has achieved, particularly securing work recently. He has come such a long way”, said Jessica. “He worked through pre-employment training, learnt how to write a resume, go for an interview, and a range of other key skills to prepare him for gaining work. Dominic is a great example of a young person who is well on the way to achieving his goals.”

Job Centre Australia Ltd. (JCAL) is a not for profit, community based organisation funded by the Department of Social Services providing employment, training and NDIS supports to people with an injury, health condition or disability across NSW and QLD.

For further information, contact 4322 5511 or email [email protected]南京夜网419论坛.

Read More →

It is hard to believe activist shareholder Elliott Management is about to stop agitating for change at BHP now the company has caved in to its demands to ditch its US oil and gas shale assets.
Nanjing Night Net

Quite the opposite. It will be emboldened to pursue other demands it thinks necessary for BHP to clean up its act.

It is too simple to assume that because BHP delivered a massive boost in underlying profits to $US6.7 billion ($8.5 billion), from $US1.2 billion last year, and more than tripled the dividend to shareholders that this would provide it sufficient armour to push Elliott into retreat.

First, this is because the overwhelming majority of the improved profit performance was due to higher prices in the commodities BHP mines and, second, because despite the massive jump in profit, it came in below what the market was expecting.

Sure, BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has been doing a good job improving efficiency, reducing debt and trimming costs and capital outlays but Elliott wants more structural change.

In particular, it wants BHP to get out of the oil business altogether and at this stage the company won’t have a bar of it.

Neither will BHP acquiesce to Elliott’s push to collapse the dual-listed structure.

Having said that, Elliott has scored plenty of goals in its BHP game since the starting whistle sounded earlier this year.

The most important was BHP’s decision to sell the onshore oil/gas shale (unconventional) assets in the US.

While BHP is dressing up this announcement as its own decision – rather than a result of pressure from Elliott and some of its supporting fellow shareholders – the fact is that BHP first responded to this demand in April with a firm no.

In BHP’s initial response to rejecting this part of the Elliott proposal, it said among other things: “Onshore US expected to be free cash flow positive in FY17 and poised for growth as prices recover.”

On Monday, Mackenzie played the debate differently, saying that it had been going through the process of how to deal with these assets for years. He said the reason for selling was because the company couldn’t find additional shale assets to acquire in order to bulk up that division.

But it appears most likely that BHP had wanted to hold on to these assets in order to improve them to claw back some of the billions of capital blown up buying them. It paid $US20 billion for the assets and spent a further $US17 billion developing them – mostly under Mackenzie’s predecessor, Marius Kloppers.

However, Mackenzie did concede that the views of shareholders were always taken into account.

Meanwhile, an additional Elliott goal was revealed on Tuesday – the decision about developing BHP’s potash business would now be put on hold for a few years rather than going to the board for final approval next year.

Elliott had been hugely critical of BHP taking the plunge into potash on the basis that there was a risk of blowing up more capital, particularly given the current price of this commodity.

Elliott was also successful in its push for BHP to appoint a well-credentialled, cleanskin chairman to take over later this year when Jac Nasser retires. Although BHP may have done this without prodding.

There are a range of views from analysts and shareholders on whether BHP should unify its capital structure, but the majority are not in favour.

There are also plenty of experts looking at how much the shale assets are worth, (some say upwards of $US11 billion), how long it will take to sell them, how a deal could be structured and what it will mean for BHP earnings.

Mackenzie has a preference for a trade sale, but will look at other options.

A report last month by Macquarie found “in aggregate, we find that the valuation of the US onshore petroleum business is ~$US10 billion, driven mainly by the Permian and Eagle Ford. However, our analysis includes a number of assumptions, and risks to execution exist in achieving that value, which when taken into account, provide a more moderate view on valuation of $US8-10 billion for the business”.

It also said: “Shale sale is earnings accretive but value neutral: A sale of the shale assets for $US8 billion would be valuation neutral but deliver a material improvement to group earnings and cash flow. Our shale sale scenario delivers 10-25 per cent earnings per share upgrades for full year 19-21 and a 20 per cent reduction in capex.”

The bottom line is that BHP doesn’t want to hand over the company’s future strategy to Elliott (a 5 per cent shareholder).

Mackenzie is steadfast in his views that the conventional petroleum business is working well and delivering good returns and that there will be plenty more of that in the coming years.

He says there will be plenty of time (a couple of decades) of puffing on this cigar because electric cars will change the dynamics of the oil industry.

Not everyone agrees.

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

Senate powerbroker Nick Xenophon has accused Facebook of not acting fast enough to stamp out fake news during a spirited encounter with the social media giant’s Australian representatives.
Nanjing Night Net

In exasperated exchanges with Facebook officials on Tuesday, Senator Xenophon questioned how an organisation famous for its mantra of “move fast and break things” had failed to combat the rise of fake news articles on its platform.

Fronting a parliamentary inquiry into the future of journalism and the impact tech behemoths Google and Facebook have had on the Australian media industry, Facebook Australia representatives Aine Kerr and Mia Garlick struggled to explain why the platform had not found a solution to the global problem.

Fake news is considered to be any inaccurate or sensationalist article that seeks to mislead, or misrepresent a person or event, to help push a certain agenda.

Senator Xenophon said he didn’t understand why the company could not give an end date to a pilot program it started in December in the United States and parts of Europe to help prevent fake news, nor announce when it would expand it across the globe.

“???I say this as a compliment – you do move fast, you do break things, but here you are taking a very conservative, cautious approach which is damaging the integrity of news,” Senator Xenophon said.

The pilot program – in which Facebook works with established fact checking organisations – was just “one layer” of the organisation’s plan to combat an issue that rose to prominence in the recent US election.

But Ms Garlick could not say how many pages Facebook, which has 15 million users in Australia, had removed or shut down for breaching its guidelines. She said the company was primarily focused on monitoring the “behaviour” of its pages, rather than the content.

The Facebook representatives did not give dates on plans for its beta subscription model, which has been mooted as a tool to better address publishers’ concerns over how Facebook uses their media content.

Global search engine giant, Google was also hauled into the committee to explain how it handled fake news, and its use of established media companies’ content.

Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino was forced to defend the organisation’s market power after Senator Xenophon accused the company of “abusing it”.

“Publishers have choice in the operating model they choose,” Mr Pellegrino said.

But the search engine could not say how big its Australian market share was, only saying it was not a “metric we use to run our business”.

Both organisations said they were supporters of journalism and actively working to fight fake news, as they considered it counter-productive to their own purposes.

The committee will hand down its findings at the end of the year.

Follow us on Facebook

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