Australia still triple-A

Australia's top-notch credit rating has been affirmed, highlighting the contrast between the nation's economic health and the difficulties being experienced overseas. Moody's said yesterday the Australian economy's resilience was "very high" due to its low public debt and strong financial position. The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the comments showed Australia's economic strengths were unmatched by "just about any other developed economy".


Hastings bolsters defence

Hastings Diversified Utilities has ramped up its takeover defence, yesterday disclosing a new $460 million gas transportation contract from 2015 needing no further capital spending and which will boost dividends "materially". APA Holdings is offering 0.326 shares and 50? cash for each Hastings share held. Hastings has rejected the offer. The contract "reinforces our belief that the APA bid ... significantly undervalues our stock", Hastings said. The takeover offer is worth only $1.92 a share, not the $2 stated by APA, Hastings said.


ANZ litigants appeal

An appeal has been lodged in a class action against ANZ over allegedly unlawful fees. Justice Michelle Gordon ruled earlier this month that late fees charged by ANZ on credit cards could be characterised as a penalty and may be legally unenforceable. However, honour fees, dishonour fees, overlimit fees and non-payment fees were not characterised as a penalty but as fees for services provided by the bank, Justice Gordon ruled. Law firm Maurice Blackburn said it had lodged an appeal in the Federal Court in Melbourne against the ruling on honour, dishonour and overlimit fees.


Wheat downgrade fears

Western Australia, set to be the nation's largest wheat producer, may see further crop quality downgrades after significant rainfall this month, according to Bankwest predictions. "It's bad," Peter Rowe, manager of agribusiness projects and strategy at the lender, said. About 25 per cent of deliveries since last week may be downgraded to feed quality, he said. The state may produce 10.1 million tonnes of wheat, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences said this month.


iiNet seals Internode deal

Internet service provider iiNet has announced a second purchase in as many months with the buying of South Australia-based Internode for $105 million. The payment will be a mixture of cash and shares, iiNet said in a statement to the ASX yesterday. The iiNet chief executive, Michael Malone, said the deal with Internode would strengthen the company's position, with the arrival of the national broadband network. The company said Internode would trade as a separate business unit under the management of founder Simon Hackett. Last month, iiNet announced a binding agreement to buy Canberra's TransACT for $60 million.

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