BRIEFS

TAKEOVER

TAKEOVER

Hastings bid

The long-running contested bidding for control of Hastings Diversified has ratcheted up a notch, with the rival bidder to APA Holdings putting its bid on the table, ahead of the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, deciding whether the APA bid can proceed. But while independent directors of Hastings Diversified have received a copy of the offer from Pipeline Partners, a consortium backed by Hastings-managed Utilities Trust of Australia and investment fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, they have yet to release it to shareholders.

MEDICAL

Insider's view

Dr Joe Reich, a 3 per cent shareholder and director of the ophthalmic care company Vision Eye Institute, says the right of doctors to decide on the treatment of their patients must be retained in any takeover by medical services giant Primary Health Care. With Vision shares soaring 5.5 per cent to 38? yesterday on expectations Primary will add to its 19.77 per cent stake, Dr Reich said he would "entertain an offer" but medical sovereignty and board seats for doctors must be respected.

INVESTMENT

Chinese call

Australia should encourage more Chinese investment in domestic industries and reap the benefits of its immense capital reserves, a top foreign affairs bureaucrat says. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary, Dennis Richardson, told a conference China is encouraging state-owned companies to seek investment opportunities abroad. "We should take advantage of that. We have always needed foreign capital to help develop our industries and unlock our potential," he told the Rebalancing and Sustaining Growth in China conference at the Australian National University in Canberra.

RETAIL

Losing sparkle

Michael Hill International, the listed jewellery chain, says full-year, same-store sales edged up 0.3 per cent as revenue in Australia continued to shrink. Same-store sales, for outlets open at least 12 months, fell to $473.2 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $474.8 million a year earlier, the company said. Total sales rose 4.6 per cent to $510.2 million. "While the past 12 months has had its challenges ... the directors are satisfied with the overall performance of the group," the company's chairman, Sir Michael Hill, said.

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