Press digest australian business news march 26

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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)Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies was prevented from becoming a supplier to the national broadband network after receiving endorsement from the Australian government-owned NBNCo that was followed by advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation apprehensive over cyber attacks instigated from China. Huawei currently has significant network-building contracts with Vodafone and Optus. Page 1.-- Coal seam gas producing companies operating in Queensland are likely to face additional expenses as the incoming Liberal National Party government has a policy of "full and fair" compensation relating to the effect of mining on landowners such as farmers. "This looks to us as if it will increase the amount of that compensation," said Tim Jordan, specialist in environment and governance at Deutsche Bank. Page 6.-- The A$8 billion Cross River Rail project of the outgoing government in Queensland is likely to be extensively scaled back as the incoming Liberal National Party (LNP) government leader Campbell Newman has publicly identified the project as a candidate for reduction as the party moves to a budget surplus. Tim Nicholls, LNP Treasury spokesman, said "the only way we can deliver our positive, practical plans to get Queensland back on track is by making some tough decisions." Page 6.-- Washington H Soul Pattinson and New Hope chairman Robert Millner said the result of the Queensland election demonstrated that the carbon tax and minerals resource rent tax of the federal government should be removed. "I think this is a big backlash against those federal issues," Mr Millner said yesterday. He was supported by David Farley, chief executive of the Australian Agricultural Company, who said the outcome in the state was "definitely because of issues beyond the state." Page 7.-- THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)Mike Smith, chief executive of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, yesterday announced that the lender is closely watching Australia's diplomatic relations with Burma as it views the resource-rich country as a platform for expanding its footprint in Asia. "We can't do anything until the Australian Government lifts its restrictions (on doing business in Burma) but hopefully that will be a positive," Mr Smith said. Page 19.--

Joe Barr, head of commercial builder Hansen Yuncken, yesterday said in an interview that the "cultural differences between how people deal with each other" in Dubai and Australia "really hits you in the face". Despite critics questioning the strength of the offshore construction industry, Hansen Yuncken has recorded a yearly turnover of approximately A$1.2 billion, with A$2.3 billion of contracts yet to be completed. "I think the general market is tight, the subcontractors are tight, the margins are tight," Mr Barr added. Page 19.-- John Rice, vice-chairman of global industrial conglomerate General Electric, yesterday described the Federal Government as "gutsy" for holding firm on its commitment to introduce a A$23 a tonne price on carbon. "I applaud the Australian government for having the courage to go through with it because I think over the long run, the world is going to be better served if there is a cost associated with the production of carbon," he said. Page 20.-- Mike Smith, chief executive of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, yesterday declared that the lender will increase its trading in the yuan after the Reserve Bank of Australia and the People's Bank of China unveiled a A$30 billion currency swap agreement last week. "The Government and the Reserve Bank of Australia have done a very good job ... It makes sense for Australia to play a part in this because of the natural trade flow with China and, with trade flow, comes investment flow," he added. Page 20.--

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)The rollout of the national broadband network is being slowed down by the federal government requirement that NBN Co take responsibility for installing fibre in new housing estates that include the remote mining villages growing in response to the mining boom. "Taking on the wholesale universal service obligation for these development estates before we have a network built is obviously not easy is taking some time," Mike Quigley, chief executive of NBN Co, testified last month to a Senate committee. Page B1.-- The research and development tax incentives currently worth billions of dollars to some of the largest companies in Australia may be cut as a panel instigated by Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan evaluates potential changes to the business tax system intended to allow this year's budget to provide benefits for small businesses. "We will have to continue to find substantial savings in the budget," said Mr Swan yesterday in an economic note. Page B1.-- The franchising sector currently contributes A$128 billion to the Australian economy and in opposition to the hype over the problems some small-time operators experience with major franchise brands, the executive director of the Franchise Council of Australia, Steve Wright, pointed out that " genuinely is one of the few situations in business where the partners' relationship is symbiotic." The Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence at Griffith University stated that a prerequisite for taking on a franchise was extensive due diligence. Page B6.--

Alister Haigh, chief executive of Adelaide confectionary maker Haigh's Chocolates, said that in a time when Lindt, the Swiss chocolate maker, was selling its wares for a much lower price than the comparable Haigh family-business offerings, "We're finding that the customers  are spending as much as they were previously, but there's just less of them." The company's double-digit growth prior to the global financial crisis has dropped to 5 percent for 2011-12 but a new store in Sydney will open later this year. Page B6.-- THE AGE (this site)The corporate bond market in Australia could be significantly boosted if changes to give retail investors more scope to enter the market were implemented, according to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. Adam Vise, head of structured products at the bank said, "We believe up to A$40 billion is readily accessible from the retail market, allowing corporates to diversify and expand their funding base." Page B3.-- MaxiTrans, which operates the Colrain truck and trailer parts business through South Australia and Victoria, is expected to acquire Queensland Diesel Spares for about A$20 million, perhaps as early as today. The acquisition will give MaxiTrans access to the expanding resources and mining sector in Queensland. Page B3.-- In the Melbourne metropolitan area, average net face rents have gone up 4.1 percent over the last six months as demand from tenants has proved stronger than an increase of 0.5 percent in vacancy rates, stated Amita Mehrotra, research manager at Colliers International. Similarly, in the south east, a new state government office building in Dandenong contributed to a 2 percent increase in the vacancy rate, but rental growth also increased by 6.7 percent. Page B8.0-- Despite the 1.2 percent drop in home loan approvals for January reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, consulting company URS reports that Australia is experiencing growth in the importation of softwoods. Figures from URS for December show a 12.8 percent fall in approvals for new dwellings and a 1.1 increase in imports of softwood timber. The strong Australian dollar was a contributing factor, said URS in its Timber Market Survey covering the last quarter of 2011. Page B8.--