BRIEFS

ENERGY

ENERGY

Spark rises

Power sector investor Spark Infrastructure has flagged a higher dividend for 2013 as it continues to search for expansion opportunities. The 2013 dividend forecast has been raised to 11¢ a share from the 10.5¢ declared for 2012, with the final dividend of 5.25¢ to be paid next month. Spark declared a 2012 net profit of $185 million, up from the loss of $47.9 million for 2011, which reflected hedging and actuarial losses.

FUEL

Prices soar

The average price of petrol has hit a 10-month high. The national unleaded fuel price rose by an average 3.4¢ a litre to 152¢ last week. "The national average price has risen by a staggering 13.4¢ a litre in just the past seven weeks," CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Class action

A class action against Vodafone will be launched on Tuesday, more than two years after it was first proposed by legal firm PiperAlderman. The proposed action stalled due to a lack of litigation funding, but funder LCM is expected to announce it will cover costs. Consumers complained after they were unable to get satisfactory reception and service on the Vodafone network in late 2010 and early 2011.

MERGERS

Pair in talks

Accounting firm WHK Group is considering a $320 million merger proposal from wealth management firm SFG Australia. As it posted a 22 per cent fall in first-half profit, WHK received an indicative offer from SFG that could create a merged entity with more than $17 billion in funds under management.

BANKING

Westpac glitch

Westpac's online and phone banking system was hit by a glitch preventing users from accessing their accounts. Just after 6pm on Monday, the bank's website and mobile banking app were telling users online banking was "currently unavailable". It is understood the problems were caused by delays in data processing.