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Lost in all the merger news? Let the Talking Business guys sort it out for you.


Talking Business is a podcast review of the Australian economy, presented by seasoned business journalists Leon Gettler and Garry Barker, produced in association with the RMIT College of Business. It features interviews with prominent business leaders and expert analysis from RMIT academics.

News Desk: a week of mergers and acquisitions

  • Leon and Garry talk about a week of mergers and acquisitions with AMP and France’s AXA SA bidding $14.6 billion to buy AXA Asia Pacific, Brambles buying Dutch container business IFCO Systems for $1.28 billion, OneSteel paying $1 billion to buy business from AngloAmerican, BHP scrapping its bid for Potash, Victoria’s Health Super merging with NSW fund First State Super and QBE buying Renaissance for $278 million.
  • Commonwealth Bank posts a strong profit of $1.6 billion but there is evidence the banks are profiting by lifting rates above the RBA’s rise. Bankers are well paid with chief executives of the big four enjoying a 23 per cent pay rise. Westpac’s Gail Kelly could be worth $55 million if she hits performance targets. Meanwhile, NAB is being sued for failing to disclose exposure to US toxic debt.
  • AMP Bank joins the other four banks, lifting its interest rates above the rise set by the RBA.
  • Australia’s unemployment rate is likely to remain low until the 2020s says the OECD. Wages for Australians are growing at their quickest pace in two years.
  • RBA minutes show the bank lifted rates because of strengthening economic activity and rising inflation and was aware the banks would lift their rates by more.
  • ABS figures show consumers are now reluctant to take on more debt and that sales of four wheel drives have reached record highs.
  • New data shows Australia can expect solid growth in 2011.
  • Planned mining and energy investment has soared to a record $132.9 billion.
  • Draft laws for the rollout of the NBN have passed the lower house of parliament but this has hit Telstra’s share price sending it to record lows.
  • James Hardie posts a $323.38 million loss, gaming machine operator Aristocrat is getting sued for patent infringements, privately owned Coopers Brewery has booked record sales and profits, rural services provider Elders reports a $217.6 million loss, fertilizer and explosives company Incitec Pivot has bounced back into profit but the owner of Red Rooster has recorded a $4.5 million loss.
  • David Jones says first quarter trading is flat.
  • Qantas is establishing a hospital line for its Airbus A380 super jumbo planes but it has lost the AFL contract to Virgin.
  • Westfield opens an online shopping mall.
  • The OECD says that Australia’s mining tax is too low and that we need to raise the GST and extend it to food.
  • The ATO is cracking down harder on the cash economy.
  • Standard Chartered says China will overtake the US to become the world’s biggest economy by 2020.
  • Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are now ranked as being among the most expensive retail rental markets in the world, according to CB Richard Ellis.
  • ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel is forced to correct his disclosures over his family’s involvement in the struggling DFO chain. The ACCC knocks back Metcash expansion plans to buy Franklins.

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Garry Barker and Leon Gettler both have established careers with The Age newspaper, where Garry Barker is its Technology Editor, and Leon Gettler is a Senior Business Journalist. Gettler also works freelance on a number of other publications.