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Nine again the One after deal

Written on July 22, 2019 at 23:11, by

Nine CEO David Gyngell after yesterday’s deal.NINE Entertainment’s rivals face the emergence of a rejuvenated and debt-free competitor after the group’s warring lenders agreed to a deal that will wipe out loans that threatened Nine’s survival.
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”All those doomsayers out there are going to have to eat their words. We have never had a more powerful balance sheet,” Nine chief executive David Gyngell said.

”We are ready to rock and roll for next year.”

A formal agreement had not been put in place – but none of the parties involved were disputing that the broadcaster was now safe.

“The key terms of a deal to recapitalise Nine Entertainment have been agreed in principle,” said a source close to Goldman Sachs, which leads the lower-ranked mezzanine lenders.

”However, a large amount of detail remains to be worked out ahead of the deal being finalised and we look forward to concluding that soon.”

Nine has operated at the mercy of its lenders for some time and it needed to sell assets, or restructure its debt, to remain a going concern.

Both classes of lenders have agreed to a deal that will wipe out all of the $3.2 billion debt that threatened to sink the media group and take ownership of Nine instead.

Senior lenders will end up with a 95.5 per cent stake in Nine and the Goldman Sachs-led mezzanine lenders, who faced losing the entire $1 billion they had invested in second-ranked debt, will receive a 4.5 per cent stake valued at $100 million.

Goldman’s support was needed because the deed of company arrangement that will bring the debt-for-equity swap into effect needs the separate approval of all classes of stakeholders.

This includes Nine’s present owner, CVC, which stands to lose all of its $2 billion investment.

Effective control of the company will fall to two US firms that own most of the $2.2 billion of senior debt, US hedge funds Oaktree Capital and Apollo Global Management.

Alongside the US hedge funds as shareholders will be some of Nine’s original senior lenders, which had hoped to retain their debt in the company rather than equity. They are not expected to be an obstacle.

The US hedge funds, advised by Moelis & Co, are believed to have the support of enough senior lenders to push through the deal.

Nine said full details of the restructure would be in the scheme booklets expected to be lodged with ASIC late next month.

With a clean balance sheet, Nine will be free to secure its NRL rights contract and ensure it is in a strong position to retain cricket rights and other programming to build on its ratings momentum this year.

”The business has great momentum and strong cash flow, and now it will have the strongest balance sheet in the industry,” Nine chairman Peter Bush said.

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Excalibur wields power to buy elusive entity

Written on July 22, 2019 at 23:11, by

IT SEEMS like the archetypal colonial expedition, with a mystery twist worthy of a pulp novel.
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The brave souls at Excalibur Mining Corporation are hacking through the jungle in search of gold in Zambia, at the heart of darkest Africa.

They have agreed to issue a billion shares to buy a company called Giratina which has options over part of the old Jessie Mine, which was closed in 1945, and two other gold prospects in Zambia.

But, like King Solomon’s Mines, Giratina appears somewhat elusive.

While Excalibur on Tuesday told the ASX it was a company ”incorporated in Australia”, CBD was unable to find an entry for it on the database maintained by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Adding to the mystery surrounding the company, in its announcement to the exchange, Excalibur omitted to reveal the identities of Giratina’s directors or shareholders.

An Excalibur spokesman told CBD Giratina was until recently called Detail Enterprises, and suggested that perhaps the change of name paperwork hadn’t yet gone through.

However, the mystery continues to tantalise.

The sole director and shareholder of Detail Enterprises is Perth man Aaron Adams, who runs company incorporation service Shelf Companies Australia.

When CBD phoned his office, he was on holiday. Presumably not in Zambia.

News time warp

AND to Rupertalooza – also known as the News Corporation annual meeting. But CBD – who just couldn’t get to the annual meeting at Fox Studios in sunny Los Angeles early yesterday morning – figured the conventional method would be to tune in through the internet to watch proceedings unfold.

After all if companies like biotech CSL or property developer Stockland can deliver a Logie-winning broadcast of their proceedings online, surely the company behind Fox News, the Gold Coast Bulletin and the blockbuster Mr. Popper’s Penguins will have an online broadcast to marvel at.

However, to CBD’s dismay, all that was to be found was a scratchy audio broadcast of proceedings. Indeed chairman Rupert Murdoch sounded like he was transmitting over radio equipment borrowed from the Second World War.

To be fair, CBD has previously had a great deal of trouble tuning into Channel Seven owner, Seven West Media, where it seems broadcasting to investors is a foreign concept.

Meanwhile, Mr Murdoch did not get everything his way in the sparsely attended meeting. A majority of independent shareholders voted for the separation of chief executive and chairman roles, but with the aligned votes, Mr Murdoch kept his dual roles.

CBD woes

GERRY McGowan’s CBD Energy must be ruing the day it got involved with coal baron Nathan Tinkler’s Buildev Group.

The renewable energy company, suspended on the stock exchange as it sorts out some impairments that are going to have a material impact on the preliminary accounts it filed last month, was going to provide power to two Bowen Basin coal projects in partnership with the Buildev Group.

But CBD noted politely that it was reviewing the carrying value of its investment in the projects – understood to be about $2 million to $3 million – in light of ”recent sales and press reports” concerning Buildev, which has been ordered by the New South Wales Supreme Court to pay $17 million to Mirvac to complete a property deal, but is fighting a rearguard legal action to be heard next week.

Another write-down is the last thing CBD needs right now: chairman and former deputy prime minister Mark Vaile, who also chairs Whitehaven Coal, 21 per cent owned by Tinkler, can’t be happy. CBD is now struggling to restate three years’ accounts, not just one, to conform with US accounting standards ahead of a NASDAQ listing.

What a headache.

McNamee lauded

THE last annual meeting for CSL’s chief haematologist, Brian McNamee, always promised to be a love-in, with its large elderly retail shareholder base enjoying a 49 per cent share price surge through 2012 alone.

But fresh from playing a role in Cochlear’s ”first strike” on executive pay, the Australian Shareholders’ Association has put down its weapons.

”I’d like to say a few words about Brian McNamee,” its Victorian chairman and ”CSL monitor” Don Hyatt told the National Tennis Centre. ”We don’t normally go soft on CEOs and managing directors; indeed, you might have heard a few statements last night about a certain annual general meeting in the USA,” referring to Rupertalooza.

Noting that McNamee’s shareholding has increased in value by at least 50 times since 1994, Mr Hyatt said McNamee could ”rightly claim to being one of Australia’s most successful CEOs currently serving in Australia”.

But another CSL shareholder went further. ”The main word I think of is brilliance, in so many different things.”

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Anything goes at News, as long as shares go up

Written on July 22, 2019 at 23:11, by

THE impetus for reform at News Corporation, indeed for rolling Rupert Murdoch as chairman, had dissipated months before the annual meeting at Fox Studios in Los Angeles yesterday. In the end, it was a subdued affair. Despite the predictable opposition to prodigious pay and poor corporate governance, all motions were comfortably passed in the company’s favour. Murdoch spoke for 40 per cent of the stock. He always had the numbers.
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And the News Corp share price – that ultimate barometer of shareholder wellbeing – had sapped the momentum of dissent which was so pervasive last year as the drama of the phone-hacking scandal in Britain was unfolding.

After all, the stock was up 45 per cent. It seemed almost churlish for shareholders to complain. As Murdoch had tweeted last Thursday: ”Signs pretty peaceful, but any shareholders with complaints should take profits and sell!”

How did the chairman’s tweeting square with comments by Viet Dinh, an independent director, about listening to shareholder concerns, asked a fund manager. It didn’t. Yet this was a forlorn ”gotcha” moment. ”We always consider what shareholders have to say,” responded the chairman curtly, before wrapping up the meeting in a slick hour and 21 minutes.

There you have it. You can run a systematically criminal enterprise, albeit unwittingly, which leads to multiple police probes and 60 arrests, but as long as the share price is up … well, like it or lump it, as Rupert says.

Once again, the majority of News’ independent shareholders are unable to hold management accountable. The motion to have an independent chairman (Murdoch is chairman and chief executive) won 30 per cent of the vote and would have commanded a two-thirds majority but for the Murdoch family’s holding of Class B voting shares.

Similarly, some 28 per cent of non-aligned shareholders voted to dump the dual-class share structure. And so it is that, for another year, the media mogul, with just six demonstrably independent directors on a board of 14, still controls the media empire he built, despite all the scandal and with ownership of just 14 per cent of the company.

News had a good year financially. On that there can be no quibbling. As the phone-hacking scandal broke, the group moved swiftly to head off any share-price damage – and consequent exposure to a shareholder class action – by launching a $US5 billion share buyback, later increased to $US10 billion.

So far the scandal has cost $US224 million, hardly an onerous sum for a business of this size, and its legal ramifications have so far been contained to Britain.

In a deft strategic move a couple of months ago, Murdoch revealed plans to split the company in two, hiving off the publishing assets from the entertainment businesses, again sustaining the share price. The market loves a demerger.

If there is a nexus between governance and performance, it is not obvious in the case of News, or perhaps it is subject to a ”lag effect”. News Corp’s pay has always been too high, its corporate governance a relic of the 1970s and its board is about as independent as your average Perth junior mining company.

But the 81-year-old Murdoch, despite the travails of the past two years, is safe for now, thanks to a buoyant share price and rising profits.

What really got the goat of Australian shareholders this year was that they had even less say in the affairs of News than ever. For 20 years they have had to tolerate News Corp’s ”super-share” structure. That is, while Murdoch has less than a 15 per cent economic interest in News Corp, he controls the group with an iron fist thanks to its dual classes of shares. The Murdochs own the Class B shares, which carry a vote, unlike the Class A shares. They own nearly 40 per cent of this voting stock. Add to that the 7 per cent held by Saudi Prince Al-waleed bin Talal, a friend of the family, and the result of the annual meeting was always academic.

But there was another setback for shareholder democracy this year – the ”latest gerrymander” as critics have dubbed it. News had suspended half the voting rights of its Class B shareholders who were not resident in the US. This was, rather conveniently, to comply with US federal laws requiring owners of a broadcast licence to have no more than 25 per cent of their shares held by non-US shareholders.

So what little say us foreigners enjoyed in the proceedings had already been chopped in half.

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Minor point brings off a major breakthrough

Written on July 22, 2019 at 23:11, by

TALK about taking it down to the wire. A shift of just one half of 1 per cent in the prospective ownership of a recapitalised Nine Entertainment headed off Nine’s descent into administration yesterday – or at least it will if lawyers turn yesterday’s ”handshake” into a firm agreement.
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After a marathon meeting on Tuesday, Nine’s two biggest senior debt holders and their key advisers, Arnold Bloch Leibler lawyer and corporate reconstruction specialist Leon Zwier and Moelis & Co’s Chris Wyke, believed they had found a debt-for-equity deal that they and the investment bank negotiating for lower-ranked mezzanine lenders, Goldman Sachs, could live with.

It would have seen Nine convert its $2.3 billion senior debt load and $700 million mezzanine debt load into $1.8 billion of new equity that was 96 per cent owned by a group of about 80 senior lenders led by Oaktree and Apollo, US funds that have acquired almost half of Nine’s senior debt at a discount from original bank lenders, and 4 per cent owned by the mezzanine lenders.

Goldman manages funds that hold about 80 per cent of the mezzanine debt, and last week it accepted (and the senior lenders ignored) a proposal from Nine that would have handed mezzanine lenders 7.5 per cent of Nine’s new equity. However, that was in a recapitalisation of Nine that would also have included $1 billion of debt. The 4 per cent stake for the mezzanine lenders that was on the table on Tuesday was to be in a debt-free Nine, and would have been worth roughly as much as 7.5 per cent of a debt-loaded Nine, about $90 million.

On Tuesday night, however, Goldman let it be known that the two lender groups were still apart. Nine’s plan that Goldman last week accepted and the senior lenders ignored also included warrants that would have entitled the mezzanine lenders to 12.5 per cent of any money collected in any subsequent sale or float above and beyond the existing value of Nine’s senior debt.

Goldman’s key negotiators, Steven Sher and James Reynolds, still wanted those warrants, or the value they potentially contained. Oaktree and Apollo had been insisting that Nine was only worth enough to cover its $2.3 billion senior debt load, they reasoned. If they couldn’t see any extra value, why would they care if Goldman was given a theoretical slice of it?

In the talks that reconvened yesterday, Apollo executives Steve Martinez and Kevin Crowe and Oaktree executive Edgar Lee were missing. They had already left the country, in the belief that a deal had been done on Tuesday. But in talks with Nine yesterday, Goldman conjured up a final sweetener. The mezzanine lenders would not get warrants, but they would get an extra half of a per cent of Nine in a debt-for-equity swap, boosting their stake to 4.5 per cent.

The offer was taken by Nine to Apollo and Oaktree’s advisers, and it was still good enough: lawyers late yesterday were still arguing about the details, but a deed drawn up by Leon Zwier that one person involved described as the equivalent of a handshake had been circulated.

Nine’s board would have been hard-pressed not to put the group into administration if yesterday’s talks had collapsed over Goldman’s final push for an extra half a per cent of the recapitalised television and media group.

Nine must either repay or refinance its senior debt load by mid-February, and can do neither. The debt-for-equity swap is essential if Nine is to avoid a debt default – and if the negotiations for a debt-for-equity swap had collapsed, the directors would have asked themselves if they still believed that Nine could pay its debts when they fell due. The answer to that question would probably have been no, and the call to an administrator would have followed.

It’s the nature of tough debt negotiations such as these that opposing sides begin with ambit claims, and work slowly towards a compromise, and that has happened again with Nine. Goldman began by arguing that Nine was worth enough to underwrite a debt-for-equity swap that handed the mezzanine holders a 30 per cent stake in a recapitalised Nine that took on $1.5 billion of debt. Oaktree and Apollo in their roles as biggest senior debt holders and negotiators argued that Nine was not worth enough to hand the mezzanine holders any equity at all.

The compromise sees the mezzanine lenders get 4.5 per cent of an ungeared company, worth about $100 million. They have received interest payments of about $130 million on their original debt exposure of about $700 million, and must now hope that Nine will eventually sell for enough to cover the balance.

The senior lenders are likely to get what they are owed, and may get more. Oaktree in particular will make a killing: it began buying Nine’s debt at a price of just 40¢ in the dollar.

In the end, common sense prevailed. Estimates were that a descent into administration would cost Nine at least $25 million, and up to $70 million: Goldman’s final half a percentage point ask was worth about $12 million, making the answer obvious.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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Miclyn Express looking to pick up even more speed

Written on July 22, 2019 at 23:11, by

There’s a hive of offshore oil and gas activity scheduled in south-east Asia in the next five years.THE shareholder machinations at oil and gas vessel outfit Miclyn Express have the market wondering if a takeover offer is just around the corner.
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Miclyn was floated by Macquarie Bank in 2010, with Macquarie keeping a 33 per cent stake. The float struggled initially but the stock has got a wriggle on, rising 38 per cent in the past 12 months. Macquarie recently agreed to sell its stake to private equity group Champ for $2.15 a share. Within days of buying the holding, Champ agreed to on-sell close to 10 million shares in Miclyn to Singaporean private equity group and existing Miclyn shareholder SEA6. This means SEA6 and Champ each have about 30 per cent of it.

Champ rarely holds its investments in listed vehicles. This leads to the conclusion that SEA6 and Champ are preparing to take the company private by mopping up the 40 per cent they don’t own. With a hive of offshore oil and gas activity scheduled in south-east Asia in the next five years, an unlisted company could take on more debt and accelerate capital expenditure on vessel purchases. With demand strong, this approach would dramatically propel earnings, in preparation for a sale of the asset in about three years.

Miclyn is trading on a price-to-earnings multiple of nine times forecast earnings, so it is feasible a takeover could be launched at $2.80, well above today’s $2.25.

Ingenia Group stapled

MENTION retirement villages and many professional investors shudder with memories of stories such as Prime Life. This negative view is justified given the complex financial structures retirement village management companies operate under. That said, we shouldn’t shut the door on a stock just because the industry is circumspect. Ingenia is an old ING trust that got into trouble by over-gearing its balance sheet from 2005 to 2007. Under the leadership of former Aevum boss Simon Owen, the group has been selling assets to pay down debt, the stock tripling over the past three years.

The company’s stapled security is trading at 26¢, a 23 per cent discount to the stated net tangible assets (NTA) of 34¢. The group is awaiting regulatory approval to consummate the sale of its US assets. Once this is completed, the company has said it will use the cash to buy up to 10 per cent of its stapled securities back, and is happy to purchase them at up to a 20 per cent discount to the NTA.

At first blush the share price suggests the market has already factored the benefits of the buyback in. The dynamics change, though, if you believe the stated NTA is understated. The sale of the US business will add 3¢ a share to the NTA, taking it to 37¢. Plus, the group is edging towards selling its education accommodation in New Zealand, which has the ability to push the NTA to 40¢. This would mean the group could buy units up to 30¢-32¢, closing the discount to NTA. Ingenia also believes there are opportunities to buy aged-care facilities in Australia. If it can get the stapled security price up to NTA of 40¢ it will be in a much stronger position to take advantage of this opportunity.

Banking sector

THE big banks have emerged as the market leaders since the market bottomed in early June. The All Financials Index has piled on 20 per cent compared with a more moderate 12 per cent by the overall market.

The four majors traditionally have their best month in October. Investors searching for fully franked dividends zero in, with three of the four paying half-yearly dividends in early November. Since the government introduced the 45-day holding rule for franking in the 1990s, the banking sector has on average gained slightly more than 3 per cent in October. In this month the banks traditionally make almost half their gains for the year.

The four majors have already posted an average gain of 4.25 per cent this month, despite 13 days left in the month. The overall market has gained less than 3 per cent. The performance has been driven by super funds hungry for fully franked dividends. Adding to the demand has been funds in the northern hemisphere looking for any yield. The alternative is receiving close to zero on cash.

All this adds up to a crowded trade. It also means there is a higher level of risk holding banks through the dividend period. It may be wise to sell in the days leading up to the stocks going ex-dividend and reassess afterwards.

Matthew Kidman owns NAB shares.

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The Age takes no responsibility for stock tips.

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Stockland tips earnings slide

Written on June 20, 2019 at 13:42, by

Sales volumes in Victoria have halved.PROPERTY company Stockland says profits may slump by 10 per cent this year as it struggles with sales in the ”worst new housing market” in more than 20 years.
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The company is facing a ”deep cyclical low” and tough conditions in Victoria, the location of its most profitable residential estates, managing director Matthew Quinn told the annual meeting yesterday.

”Profit in our residential business is expected to be around $50 million lower this year than last year with potential downside of a further $30 million if conditions in Victoria don’t improve,” Mr Quinn said.

Sales volumes in the state had halved and aggressive discounting was required to clear stock, he said.

The company’s woes follow yesterday’s release of Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing the value of private residential building work fell to $10.47 billion in the June quarter, a 10-year low.

But the ABS figures also showed that, as spending on residential building slowed, engineering construction was still powering along at historic highs of $22.45 billion.

Over the past four years, Stockland has refocused on its residential, retail and retirement businesses, all of which are affected by the cautious consumers of today.

Its net profit of $487 million for 2011-12 was down 35.5 per cent from the previous year.

Home buyers were still focused on paying off debt, he said.

”We started the year with around 700 fewer contracts on hand than the previous year, reflecting the sluggish market in FY12, and so far we are not seeing any improvement.”

But the company’s 41 shopping centres, valued at more than $5 billion, were making above-industry-average returns and would deliver future growth. Profit margins were likely to improve in 2013-14, although it would take ”two to three years of good volume and price growth to restore our margins back to historical levels”, Mr Quinn said.

Chairman Graham Bradley told shareholders the search for a replacement for Mr Quinn, who leaves the company early next year, was ”progressing well”.

Stockland’s shares closed down 13¢ yesterday to $3.42. Other property companies, including Mirvac, GPT and Australand, also fell marginally.

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Kloppers warns miners must cut costs, lift game

Written on June 20, 2019 at 13:42, by

AUSTRALIA’S high-cost, low-productivity economy will be untenable in the coming era of slower Chinese growth, according to BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers.
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In an address to the Brisbane Mining Club, Mr Kloppers said mining companies could no longer afford to choose volume growth at the expense of rising costs given commodity prices were moderating and the sector had entered a period where cost cutting and productivity improvements would take precedence.

Mr Kloppers said productivity was the best indicator of long-term wealth in a society, but Australia’s rates had been declining since the late 1990s and had slipped into reverse for many of the past eight years.

”This should be a concern for all of us, because as markets revert to more sustainable levels, our relative competitiveness will be the key to maintaining the economic advantage our resources endowment naturally provides,” he said.

Mr Kloppers reiterated his view that no company could consider investing in Queensland’s huge coal sector given the current low prices, high costs and rising royalty rates. But he went further to suggest new investment in any part of the mining sector looked unlikely in current conditions.

”The next round of minerals investments in Australia will, almost without exception, be captured only if costs are decreased and productivity is improved. Companies and governments need to work in partnership towards attracting the next rounds of investments,” he said.

The comments will not surprise the thousands of former employees whose jobs have already been cut this year by BHP, and other miners such as Xstrata and Rio Tinto.

BHP has previously warned the ”tailwind” of high commodity prices was no longer blowing at the back of Australian miners, and Mr Kloppers said the gap between supply and demand for many commodities was closing fast.

”What we are now witnessing is the rebalancing of supply and demand and a progressive recalibration of prices back to long-term sustainable pricing levels,” he said. In a swipe at Queensland’s decision to increase royalties, Mr Kloppers said it was unfortunate the commodity slowdown had coincided with rising imposts from government.

He listed regulatory reform alongside stability in taxation and workplace laws at the top of the sector’s wish-list.

BHP has attempted to buffer itself from a slowdown in iron ore and coal by expanding other divisions, particularly petroleum, the focus of yesterday’s September-quarter results.

The petroleum division produced a record volume of petroleum products during the three months. Iron ore production was lower, while coking coal production dramatically outstripped volumes sold. Copper production was higher but below analyst expectations.

BHP closed 38¢ higher at $33.45.

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Buyback, profit forecast push CSL to record high

Written on June 20, 2019 at 13:42, by

SHARES in CSL touched a record high yesterday, as the blood plasma and vaccine company announced yet another share buyback and reaffirmed guidance for 12 per cent annual profit growth.
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Speaking at its annual meeting, chairman John Shine said CSL would buy back another $900 million of shares, or 4 per cent of issued capital, over the next year.

The Melbourne-based company also reaffirmed its forecast of 12 per cent profit growth this financial year, taking annual revenue to $US5 billion.

Speaking at his last AGM, chief executive and managing director Brian McNamee drew attention to CSL’s growth since he joined Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in 1990. CSL is now capitalised at $24 billion and recently reported its first $US1 billion profit, on $US4.6 billion of revenue.

”We certainly believe internally that the milestone of achieving $US1 billion NPAT [net profit after tax] was a significant milestone for the company. When many of us look back at where we started from, obtaining a billion dollars in revenue was certainly a significant achievement,” Dr McNamee said.

His comments came after UBS healthcare analysts Andrew Goodsall and Dan Hurren boosted their rating on CSL to ”buy” from ”neutral”, with an increased share-price target of $52. In a note to clients titled ”Upgrade FY14 – it’s all about the volume”, the pair tipped CSL would outperform industry plasma growth, leading to a 3 per cent increase in earnings a share.

Dr McNamee said after the AGM he intended to take on a new role in 2014, after handing over the top job to Paul Perreault mid next year.

Mr Perreault is president of CSL’s biggest revenue earner, plasma product arm CSL Behring.

The departing CEO was lauded by Professor Shine, the Australian Shareholders Association and retail shareholders for his ”outstanding qualities” and ”brilliance” at the 85-minute meeting, held at the National Tennis Centre.

CSL shares closed 2.1 per cent, or 97¢, higher yesterday at $47.71.

They are 49 per cent higher in the year to date, well above analysts’ 12-month price target of $44.52, according to Bloomberg.

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Isabella headed for stardom

Written on June 20, 2019 at 13:42, by

Craig Newitt rides Isabella Snowflake to victory in the Superior Food Services Handicap.CAULFIELD WRAP
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ONE of the most impressive winners yesterday and certainly one with the strangest name was Isabella Snowflake, who is now unbeaten in two runs and is heading for a stakes race at Flemington on Oaks day.

Co-breeder Craig McDonald explained how a filly by Not A Single Doubt out of Tiamo Baby could have such a name, and he gave all the credit to his daughter, Caitlyn. ”We were driving out to see the horse one day and I said, we’ve got to come up with a name for her, and my daughter Caitlyn was very keen on calling her Isabella,” he said.

”I told her that she had a star on her forehead, but when Caitlyn saw her she said it wasn’t a star, it was a snowflake. So there was the name, Isabella Snowflake.”

The filly, who won on debut at Flemington in June, jumped straight to the front yesterday as the $2.45 favourite and strolled home to win by three lengths.Daring Boss is rewarded

GLEN Boss proved again that he was the in-form rider of the spring when he surged further in front on the jockeys’ premiership after a brilliant ride on Ava’s Delight to win the BMW Handicap.

Boss, who leads the Melbourne premiership by five winners over reigning champion Luke Nolen, made a lightning mid-race move on the filly yesterday from back in the field to sit outside the leader before kicking clear on straightening and holding off the favourite, Super Cool.

”She wasn’t going to win from back there with that tempo, so I took off and made something happen,” Boss said. ”Fortunately, I had the horse to do it.”Dwyer, Rodd back in vogue

IT HAS been nine years since Michael Rodd claimed the Magic Millions Classic on Regimental Gal for trainer Shaun Dwyer, and the trainer, who is now based in Bendigo, suspects the pair might enjoy similar results with filly Villa Verde, who won the Debutants Stakes on debut.

”I haven’t had a horse like her since Reggie [Regimental Gal], probably,” Dwyer said. ”Pre-race she’s showed me a lot more than Reggie but potential and performance can be two different things.”

Villa Verde ($15) sat third before sprinting clear to win.Free Wheeling towards Emirates

THE Darley team yesterday produced a group 1 contender when Free Wheeling returned to racing with a commanding win in the Hair And Beauty Stakes.

Trainer Peter Snowden said that as the horse raced in Queensland during the winter, it was decided to give him a three-race spring program, culminating with the $1 million group 1 Emirates Stakes.

”I think he’s in for a good prep judging on that effort,” Snowden said. ”He’ll go to 1400 metres on Victoria Derby day and then back up a week later into the Emirates.”

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When the going gets tough, Oliver gets going

Written on June 20, 2019 at 13:42, by

DAMIEN Oliver has risen to great heights before when burdened with a heavy heart. Yesterday it was his reputation that was ailing, and again he climbed into the saddle.
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And, at least for a few precious moments, he blew the dark clouds away. A decade after riding Media Puzzle to victory in the Melbourne Cup while mourning the brother he had lost days earlier, Oliver is at the centre of betting allegations that have cast a pall over the spring carnival, and could jeopardise his great career.

His win in the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield was one for the believers, even if the biggest test may be yet to come.

”Everyone has tough times in their life, it’s how you respond to those tough times that counts,” Oliver said after steering Commanding Jewel to an easy win, his fifth in the group 1 race.

He said the support shown by the filly’s trainer, Leon Corstens, and chief owner, Brad Spicer, was ”overwhelming”, a pointed contrast to those who have distanced themselves from him in recent days.

”Each to their own, so be it. It’s during tough times where you know the people who are really going to stick by you.”

Oliver’s latest tough times surfaced when The Sunday Age hit the streets last weekend, containing claims that he wagered $10,000 on the favourite, Miss Octopussy, to beat his own mount in a race at Moonee Valley in 2010.

A Racing Victoria investigation into this and allegations against other leading jockeys continues.

The saga has polarised the racing industry. Last night, Oliver and high-profile owner Terry Henderson exchanged heated words before the stewards after the jockey filed a claim for compensation over Henderson stripping him of the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup rides on My Quest For Peace.

Henderson agreed that he had given a ”firm” commitment to Oliver for the rides, but hinged his case on the jockey’s refusal to declare his innocence. Stewards will rule before Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.

Lloyd Williams also withdrew an offer for Oliver to ride Cox Plate hopeful Green Moon, and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation has looked elsewhere, but others have painted Oliver as a victim and questioned the timing of the allegations.

”All this crap always seems to come out right when the spring carnival starts,” trainer Tony Vasil said yesterday, after Oliver rode his gelding The Wingman into sixth in his first of three rides for the day. ”I’ll be sticking with him.”

So is Corstens, who was moved to tears by Oliver’s win. The veteran trainer said he had ”been there before”, and knew what the jockey was going through, a reference to Corstens’ guilty findings for using banned substances on his horses.

Asked if he had misgivings over Oliver taking yesterday’s ride, Corstens said: ”He’s the best rider in Australia, so why would I have second thoughts?” The jockey put a comforting arm on the trainer’s back when Corstens welled up during the Thousand Guineas presentation.

Spicer reported that Oliver had rung on Sunday to assure Commanding Jewel’s owners.

He said he would not have switched to another jockey ”for anyone in the world”, echoing the conviction of other trainers and owners that the accused is innocent until proved guilty.

Oliver was composed and courteous after the race, his 95th group 1 triumph, explaining his knack for producing under pressure – which he reiterated to Henderson in front of the stewards – by saying he felt more comfortable on a horse than anywhere.

Veteran Sydney jockey Jim Cassidy, who is also implicated in the widespread investigation for allegedly receiving payments from a prominent underworld informer, pushed through the media surrounding his colleague and said: ”Good onya, Olly!”

The sentiment was shared by many in the crowd.

”Leon and Brad and all the other people who’ve stuck by us, I can’t thank them enough,” Oliver said.

He was relieved to be on a winner again, but knowing that this particular race is far from run.

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