InvestSMART

Briefs

CONSTRUCTION

CONSTRUCTION

CSR concedes mistake

with Viridian purchase

CSR conceded its takeover of Viridian may have been a dud after the struggling glass division dragged down first-half earnings at the building products group. Viridian Glass posted a $6.9 million loss in the first half as CSR reported a 21 per cent fall in earnings before interest and tax to $92.8 million. Chief executive Rob Sindel blamed weak residential and commercial construction for lower earnings. He expressed frustration with Viridian, which was bought for $690 million in 2007, and said the business had not "lived up to expectations" so far.

UTILITIES

Too warm for AusNet

Unseasonably warm weather in winter and early spring hit earnings of Victorian energy distributor SP AusNet in the latest half, with the company also refusing to rule out cutting distributions if it succeeds in negotiating to supply power to Melbourne's troubled desalination plant, which would cost it up to $250 million. SP Ausnet posted a net profit of $146.2 million for the six months to September 30, down from $166 million a year earlier.

INVESTMENT

Progress at MF Global

The administrator of the Australian arm of failed broker MF Global, Deloitte partner Chris Campbell, says "virtually all" the risk has been removed from the trading positions of clients. Mr Campbell has instructed an offshore broker to close out US futures market positions held by Australian clients. About 13,000 clients of MF Global have between $400 million and $500 million caught in the collapse. A creditors' meeting will be held in Sydney tomorrow.

MANUFACTURING

Downer EDI recovers

Downer EDI insists it is back on track and will return to profitability after a horror year that saw the engineering company plunge into the red. Chief executive Grant Fenn told shareholders he expected full-year profit to recover to $180 million from the previous year's loss of $28 million, mainly related to the troubled Waratah train project in NSW.

EQUITIES

Chi-X's modest start

Alternative market exchange operator Chi-X yesterday conducted its first full trading day on all stocks in the ASX 200, reporting almost 5400 trades in 123 companies. A spokesman said the trades would have earned Chi-X about $900 in trading commission. The total valued Chi-X trades at $21.5 million compared with more than $4 billion on the ASX.

PROPERTY SERVICES

UGL mulls British bid

Engineering and real estate company UGL Limited is in talks about a possible takeover bid for DTZ Holdings, the British real estate broker. A tie-up of DTZ and UGL would create one of the world's largest real estate services operations.


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