Archive for December, 2010

INSIDER TRADING ARREST OF WOMAN IN USA

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

California woman arrested

in insider trading case

By Jonathan Stempel and Emily Chasan

NEW YORK | Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:05pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday charged a California woman with leaking secrets about technology companies to two hedge funds in exchange for illegal payments, expanding their probe into insider trading.

Winifred Jiau is at least the sixth person arrested since U.S. authorities raided three hedge funds last month, ratcheting up the pressure on the industry in their more than two-year-old probe.

Primary Global Research LLC, an “expert network” firm that linked investors such as hedge funds with industry experts, in a statement said it used Jiau as a consultant from September 2006 to December 2008, when “the relationship was ended.”

The period roughly corresponds with the time frame in which prosecutors said Jiau’s alleged illegal activity took place.

Jiau’s lawyer was not immediately available to comment.

Prosecutors accused Jiau, 43, of selling inside information about publicly traded companies including computer chipmakers Marvell Technology Group Ltd and Nvidia Corp to hedge funds, including the founder of a New York fund that prosecutors did not identify.

They said the information was sold through an expert network firm, in exchange for more than $200,000 of payments funneled through that firm, also not identified.

Nvidia spokesman Hector Marinez said Jiau had been a contractor at Nvidia before leaving about a year ago. Marvell did not return a request for comment.

Hedge funds pay expert network firms for access to experts who are supposed to offer insights on industry trends.

DETAINED

Jiau was charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy, and could face 20 years in prison on the securities fraud charge, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York.

The defendant was arrested at her Fremont, California, home on Tuesday, and ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas at a hearing Wednesday in San Francisco.

A bail hearing is set for January 3. It is unclear whether Jiau’s case will eventually be transferred to New York.

Jiau’s arrest follows criminal charges on December 16 against three technology company executives who allegedly sold secrets about companies including Apple Inc and chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Also charged on that date was James Fleishman, a salesman at Primary Global, which had used the executives as consultants.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

JAIL TERM FOR SMUGGLING EGGS NOT CUBAN CIGARS

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
Cuban eggs, not cigars, fall ‘foul’ of U.S. Customs

December 23, 2010 11:55 AM ET
MIAMI (Reuters) – A Cuban-American father and daughter face a possible jail term or hefty fines after their attempt to bring 72 unhatched pigeon eggs from Cuba to the United States fell foul of U.S. Customs. | Full Article

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

RARE EARTH QUOTA EXPORTS CURBED BY CHINA

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
China cuts rare earth export quotas, U.S. concerned

December 28, 2010 02:56 PM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) – China announced on Tuesday it will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals by more than 11 percent in the first half of 2011, further shrinking supplies of metals needed to make a range of high-tech products after Beijing slashed quotas for 2010. | Full Article

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

CHINA REMAINS THE FOCUS OF WORLD TRADE IN THE YEARS AHEAD

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Click here to find out more!

Is China the centre of world trade?

December 27, 2010

Problems abound but the outlook for Australia is good, writes Maris Beck.

IN HIS classic Australian history, The Tyranny of Distance, Geoffrey Blainey wrote: ”So far as we know, Australia had only one commodity which was valued beyond its shores towards the end of the eighteenth century – the trepang or sea slug …”

A few centuries later the country is in the throes of a commodities boom – and sea slugs have sunk from export prominence.

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Times have changed and they will change again. The question is how.

As investors position themselves for the year ahead, the mining sector and Australia’s largest trading partner, China, are central to their considerations.

Many believe the commodity bonanza and sustained Chinese growth saved Australia from the worst of the 2008 crash.

But as the stalled engines of global growth sputter back to life, Macquarie’s global head of economics, Richard Gibbs, has warned that the mining bonanza is ”a fool’s paradise”. He believes China will increasingly look to Africa and Latin America as alternative sources of crucial commodities.

”As each year goes by, we get closer to the year when the Chinese are going to bring to the table significant new competing supply.”

Australia’s ”two-speed” economy, in which mining services growth outstrips other sectors, is a liability, he says. ”In the same way the gains in China were magnified in the Australian economy, any losses in China will be magnified. It is a double-edged sword.”

Investors should position themselves for a rocky ride over the next few years, he says. ”I’d be looking at companies with good cash flow … continuing to keep some of my cash locked down in term-deposit facilities.”

But a report by the Morgan Stanley global economics team says the mining boom is less vulnerable to China-related setbacks now because it is increasingly investment driven, rather than terms-of-trade driven as it has been.

Roaring Chinese growth has fuelled inflation this year and a surprise Chinese interest rate rise in October spooked Australian investors.

Many fund managers fear that if China slows its growth, its demand for Australian commodities will drop off and share prices will follow, at least in the short term.

But even if China does crack down on inflation, Ian Christie, director of research at Argonaut Securities, which specialises in mining services, says the risk needs to be kept in perspective.

”If China goes from 10 per cent-plus growth down to 8 per cent, it’s not the end of the world; but if it goes down to 6 per cent and below then it is going to create a few problems because demand within China is not going to be sufficient to keep the same demand for commodities.

”I don’t think that is going to happen.”

He says 2011 will be ”a little soft” for the mining services sector, but that 2012 and 2013 will be ”exceptionally good” as new projects bear fruit.

UBS strategist David Cassidy says any tightening will ensure Chinese growth is more sustainable. Furthermore, he says fears of Chinese macro and monetary tightening are ”overdone”, because recent inflation has been driven by food prices and is not due to excessive monetary expansion.

In a note to investors, he says that 2010’s earnings have been ”firing on one cylinder”- commodities.

He expects more sectors to be profitable next year because of a flatter trajectory for commodity prices and the Australian dollar, better financial conditions, investment-driven domestic growth and marginally better US growth.

Banks will not benefit immensely, he says, because they have become a ”political football” and may face more regulatory constraints as they struggle with continuing margin pressures.

A report by Citi head of equities Tony Brennan and equities strategist Richard Schellbach says ANZ and NAB will fare better than the other banks because business lending, which is a larger share of their assets, will rise.

”Growth is expected to be moderate as more subdued credit conditions persist in the economy. Nevertheless, bank earnings could still grow reasonably well compared to other areas of the market.”

BBY’s head of financial sector equity research, George Gabriel, says he expects the banks to be ”trading-range bound” for the next six months because of potential regulatory reform, uncertainty about new rules on capital adequacy that will apply from the first quarter of 2011, and a challenging revenue outlook, with question marks over loan growth and fees.

But he sees the big banks doing better than the regionals because they will be able to fund covered bonds more cheaply and if mortgage exit fees are banned, they will suffer less.

”Safe as houses” is a well-worn expression, but MLC Investments strategist Brian Parker says the notion that Australian real estate prices can move only one way could go out the window this year. ”Residential property looks absolutely obscenely overvalued and seems to offer very, very poor investment prospects,” he says.

Morgan Stanley economist Gerard Minack has echoed a recent International Monetary Fund report in a note to clients, warning of a housing bubble in Australia. He says that while the market may not crash, it could flatline.

Australians are saving more and spending less, recent Bureau of Statistics data shows. Gibbs of Macquarie says people are ”self-insuring” after the financial crisis. Penny-pinching has hit retailers hard this Christmas and the trend may continue well into next year.

UBS strategist Cassidy says investors should not give up on shoppers just yet, but Citi’s Brennan expects discretionary retailing to fall further next year.

Retailers may not be pleased, but Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has welcomed high savings rates, so long as they do not impede higher productivity.

The frugal trend could deter the RBA from raising rates beyond

4.75 per cent when it meets again in February.

HSBC economist Paul Bloxham has forecast that inflation pressures and high commodity prices will cause the RBA to raise rates by 100 basis points to 5.75 per cent over the next 15 months, which would boost incomes and investment.

Interest rates, along with commodity prices and the direction of the greenback, will play central roles in the trajectory of the dollar, which has already brushed parity several times this year.

Many observers foresee a risky bond market over the next few years. Gibbs of Macquarie says debt looks ”far too cheap” at current levels. ”It has raised the spectre of asset-price bubbles, in parts of the global sovereign debt market in particular – also you could argue in the corporate market. We’ve got to watch that.

”It would be unlikely that investors will want to bid down yields any more, and they have got down to fairly marginal levels.”

MLC Investments strategist Parker says: ”Nobody is going to get rich lending money to Barack Obama and earning 3.5 per cent.

”One of the great ironies of markets right now is that the traditional safe-haven assets look the most dangerous to us. The yields you are getting on global government bonds just don’t look all that flash and they don’t seem to be pricing in any of the risks that seem to be out there.”

He says investors have to assume that either Greece, Ireland, Spain or Portugal will default on their loans over the next few years.

European sovereign debt, which has erupted into crisis proportions this year, remains a touchy subject for investors. The US, which has extended Bush-era tax cuts and borrowed money to finance its stimulus program, could end up trading its growth problem for a debt problem, with profound consequences for international markets. These issues will continue to weigh on investments into the coming year.

The investment landscape for 2011 holds significant risks, but most commentators believe Australia’s economic fundamentals are strong. They say the sharemarket is well positioned to make solid gains, with observers forecasting the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index to be between 5000 and 5750 by the end of 2011.

UBS strategists Cassidy and Dean Dusanic say the market’s price-earnings ratio could expand moderately in 2011, to just over

13 times, with the index targeted to hit 5500 by the end of 2011. The executive director of investment strategy at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Malcolm Wood, is more optimistic. ”Earnings growth in Australia will be pretty solid. I’ve got a target of 5750, which is roughly a 20 per cent upside.”

Commentators are at odds over exactly where the market is headed and exactly where the bets should be placed. But one thing is exceedingly clear – the era of sea-slug ascendancy is well and truly over.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

OIL GAS HIGH PROFILE JOB AVAILABLE NOW IN AUSTRALIA

Friday, December 10th, 2010
Hays

Contracts and Relationship Development Manager

  • Career opportunity in Oil and GAS
  • Extensive Travel
  • Excellent Salary Package
Contracts and Relationship Development ManagerOur client is one of the leading international oil and gas drilling organisations, and has been operating successfully for over 40 years, both here in Australia and multiple overseas locations. As a result of continued growth and internal promotion, a very rare and exciting opportunity has arisen for someone to take up the role of Contracts and Relationship Manager, playing a key role in personally marketing and developing the business in line with projected growth plans.

This is a diverse role, requiring a dynamic individual who can demonstrate acute skills and experience in the bid and tender process, contracts negotiation and management, accompanied with a natural ability to develop and manage strong customer relationships.

Working closely with and supporting the Director of Contracts and Marketing, you will be responsible for the direct marketing of offshore drilling rigs to clients in the Asia Pacific Region, ensuring a competitive edge is achieved, maintained and selected over and above the competition. You will be required to manage and service a database of clients, along with a working knowledge of current and future projects, including detailed knowledge of specifications, equipment and operational parameters for drilling within the Asia Pacific Area.

Acting as a key representative of the organisation, you will be required to travel extensively, and often at short notice to capitalise on potential opportunities to develop business.

The ideal candidate would already posses a working knowledge of the oil and gas/offshore rig – drilling industry (However for the right candidate, training and knowledge up-skilling will be provided).
A business related or marketing qualification would be highly regarded as would a solid understanding of the Asia Pacific region and markets.

Essential to the role will be exceptional communication skills both written and verbal, accompanied with strong attention to detail. An extreme level of motivation, flexibility and desire are required, to develop a long-term career within this established and growing company working within the oil and gas sector.

On offer for the successful candidate:
Excellent Salary package, including 12% superannuation, Private Health Insurance, Company phone and laptop computer, fully maintained vehicle and car parking.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, if you meet the above criteria or feel your skills and experience position you well to step up to this role. Please forward you resume in the first instance to phil.jones@hays.com.au
For a private and confidential discussion please contact Phil Jones on 08 9226 0899 or Amber Howard on 08 9322 5334

Email your applicationApply now

To be eligible to apply for this position you must have an appropriate Australian or New Zealand work visa.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA MINING INDUSTRY NEEDS MORE WORKERS

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Mining boom will need 150,000 workers: Collier

December 10, 2010 – 12:57PM

The West Australian government will target overseas workers to help fill the gap in the state’s skills shortage which is expected to worsen as mining continues to expand.

Training and Workforce Development Minister Peter Collier announced the government’s workforce development plan to address a range of labour problems in the state.

One of the issues identified by Mr Collier was the easing of the skills shortage that is tipped to get worse with $220 billion worth of major projects, including the Ord River Expansion and the Oakajee port and rail project, over the coming years.

He said the number of workers leaving the workforce combined with population growth, it is forecast there will be a gap of about 150,000 workers in WA in the next seven years.

In addressing this problem, the minister said one of the goals would be to use skilled migrants to fill vacancies which cannot be filled by local workers.

As a result the WA government has signed an agreement with the federal government which will allow the state to sponsor 6000 visa applications for the 2010 program year.

”Training and preparing West Australians for the workforce is our number one priority,” Mr Collier said in a statement.

”However, targeted migration will be an important strategy in filling those high value vacancies unable to be filled by the local workforce.”

The government’s workforce development plan also aims to increase workforce participation among the unemployed, mature-aged workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

WA’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy welcomed the plan saying attracting and retaining skilled workers was critical in delivering sustained economic growth in the resources sector.

”If we are to lock in long-term prosperity, a stable, skilled workforce is crucial,” CME chief executive Reg Mr Howard-Smith said.

”Direct employmewnt in the industry has doubled in less than a decade and tens of thousands of additional workers will be required over the next few years for the expanding number of projects.”

AAP

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


MINING GIANT ENTERS MEDIA EMPIRE STAKE

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Australian miner in $50m Fairfax buy

Julian Lee and Colin Kruger
December 8, 2010

THE drama continued at Fairfax Media yesterday with mining billionaire Gina Rinehart revealed as the buyer of a $50 million stake in the company, one day after the abrupt departure of its chief executive, Brian McCarthy.

Market sources confirmed Ms Rinehart was behind the acquisition, which follows her raid on the Ten Network last month that netted her 10 per cent of the broadcaster. Morgan Stanley, which conducted Ms Rinehart’s raid on Ten, would not comment yesterday, nor did Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett said: ”The company welcomes the investment interest and show of confidence from all our shareholders.”

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It is not known if Ms Rinehart plans to increase her stake in Fairfax, owner of The Age. Her current stake represents 1.5 per cent of the company’s stock.

More than 60 million Fairfax shares were traded on Monday following the departure of Mr McCarthy, who has been replaced on an interim basis by Greg Hywood. Because broking codes have been removed from trading systems, there is no confirmation of how many of those shares were traded by Morgan Stanley.

Under sharemarket rules, once Ms Rinehart’s holdings reach 5 per cent, she must declare ownership. It is then that questions will be asked in earnest as to what her intentions are towards the company, which has an open and fluid register.

Former director John B. Fairfax’s Marinya Media is the largest individual shareholder with 9.7 per cent. The largest institutional investor is Colonial First State with 11 per cent.

In May this year, Fairfax signed a deal with Ten to serve short clips of news footage to complement news reports by Fairfax journalists. But Ms Rinehart’s second media acquisition in as many months may have more to do with gaining influence as she protects a mining empire worth around $5 billion.

Ms Rinehart has continued to be a vocal critic of the mining tax, including its latest iteration, the mineral resource rent tax.

In a recent article she wrote for a mining publication, Ms Rinehart said: ”Changes are needed, and not only to bury the MRRT immediately and permanently.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

AUSTRALIAN MINING INDUSTRY AT A SOCIAL CRISIS WITH ALCOHOL,ABUSE & MENTAL HEALTH

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Social dark side of the mining boom

Courtney Trenwith

December 6, 2010 – 11:35AM

    CRISIS LOOMS IN THE AUSTRALIAN MINING INDUSTRY
Australia's mining towns are rife with alcohol-fuelled violence, abuse and mental health problems, according to a new report.Australia’s mining towns are rife with alcohol-fuelled violence, abuse and mental health problems, according to a new report.

Australia’s mining industry is propagating a dark underbelly of alcohol-fuelled violence, prostitution and mental health, the first study to examine social impacts of regional mining camps has revealed.

The Queensland University of Technology report claims thousands of men flown in to work at mining sites in Queensland and Western Australia are “catastrophically” denigrating nearby towns and turning them into dangerous crime hot spots.

The report’s author, Professor Kerry Carrington, said the resources industry and governments were largely ignoring the devastation being wreaked on rural communities, which would get worse as $116 billion worth of new mining projects began. 

She warned there were unknown impacts on individual mine workers that would also damage families and communities.

The impacts, yet to be closely examined, include alcohol abuse, increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and mental health problems.

One worker she spoke to was taking anti-anxiety medication because he feared the constant expectation to fight during drinking binges in between shifts.

Professor Carrington’s research, which was recently published in the esteemed British Journal of Criminology, is the first in Australia to examine the social impacts of the nation’s mining boom.

She concluded the growing social disorder could be reduced by building regional cities with subsidised housing and pay to compete with mining wages.

The Mt Isa-born researcher visited mining communities in Queensland and Western Australia and interviewed employees, mining bosses, local residents, police, health workers and magistrates.

She found crime rates were more than double the state average in regional communities located near camps that housed large populations of “fly-in, fly-out” mine and construction workers.

Professor Carrington said workers had large disposable incomes with nothing much to do other than drink alcohol between back-to-back shifts.

“What we discovered and what we heard was truly quite shocking,” she said.

“It’s what we call organised drunkenness. The camps had courtesy buses that would arrive at the end of a shift and drive them to the pub.

“They were surrounded by concrete, steel mesh to, I presume, keep the men contained.”

Many camps had “wet messes” for drinking but no other recreational activities, she said. The best camps were adding libraries, gyms and the internet to provide alternatives.

The problems were exacerbated by the heavy population of men, which fuelled violence, particularly over the scarce number of women. Local men also became involved in such fights.

Professor Carrington said the few females left in one WA region were known as Plemberton Princesses, while sex workers were known to operate out of stretch limousines in car parks.

“There was an enormous amount of fighting and rivalry for those women,” she said.

Professor Carrington, who had feared speaking out on the issue, said police and health services were struggling to cope.

She said Australian Bureau of Statistics population figures did not include non-residents, which made it more difficult for governments to better allocate resources.

However, she criticised the industry and governments for turning a blind eye to the problem.

WA mining executives were the worst, she said, because they passed responsibility to subcontractors.

Professor Carrington said while Queensland had enforced mandatory social impact statements required by all proposed mining projects, it needed to go further and include criminology impacts.

She called for national leadership to address the issue.

“The question I ask of the resources industry and government is, is it really sustainable?” she asked.

“Is $116 billion of resource extraction based on supply of labour of non-resident workers [sustainable], given the profound impacts, not just on the communities but also when they fly back home?”

A spokesman for Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean said the government would not comment until the full report was released later this week.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

AUSTRALIA & AFRICA MINING & OTHER RELATIONSHIPS TALKS TO CONTINUE

Monday, December 6th, 2010

House of Representatives – Email alert service
#########################################

Monday 6 December 2010

Australia’s relations with Africa—Inquiry resumes

Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will resume its Inquiry into Australia’s relationship with the countries of Africa with two days of public hearings in Sydney and Canberra on Tuesday, 7 December and Wednesday, 8 December.

Committee Chairman Senator Michael Forshaw said he was pleased that the Foreign Affairs Minister has re-referred this review of an important aspect of Australia’s foreign relations.

“The Joint Committee is at the midpoint of the inquiry having conducted six days of hearings and received over 90 submissions in the previous parliament,” Senator Forshaw said.

Representatives from BHP Billiton, Jubilee Australia, and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) will be attending the Sydney hearing in the Sydney Masonic Centre on 7 December.

“Australian mining companies and mining service companies along with companies of other nations are investing heavily in Africa with BHP Billiton being particularly active,” he said. “The Committee will discuss with BHP Billiton the opportunities for investment in the African mining sector and the challenges it faces.”


Jubilee Australia has been critical of the activities of the EFIC including its transparency of decision making and its environment policy.

“This hearing will provide an opportunity for the Committee to test the criticisms of Jubilee Australia and also enable EFIC to respond,” Senator Forshaw said.

The Committee will reconvene at Parliament House in Canberra on 8 December to hear evidence from former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and the Kenyan High Commissioner and Zimbabwean Ambassador amongst others. The Committee is keen to hear Professor Evans’ views given his expertise and long involvement in international affairs, including conflict resolution.

“Australia enjoys good relations with Kenya and the Committee will value the comments of the High Commissioner regarding how the relationship might be enhanced,” he said. “Australia is a major contributor of aid to Zimbabwe whilst simultaneously imposing sanctions. The Committee will explore with the Ambassador the value of Australia’s aid and the effect of the sanctions on the country.”

The Committee is planning to hold a further public hearing in Perth in early 2011.

Submissions to the inquiry and transcripts of the public hearings are available on the Committee’s website.

Program

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Sydney Masonic Centre Corinthian Room, 66 Goulburn Street, Sydney

9.30 am Jubilee Australia

10.20 am        Refugee Council of Australia

11.15 am        BHP Billiton

11.55 am        Export Finance and Insurance Corporation

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Committee Room 1R1 Parliament House, Canberra

9.30 am Mr David Wheen

10.10 am        Kenya High Commissioner

11.05 am        Zimbabwe Ambassador

11.55 am        Vision 2020 Australia

1.30 pm Professor Hon. Gareth Evans

2.10 pm Australian Uranium Association

3.05 pm Professor Anne Fitzgerald

3.45 pm Australia-Nigeria Business Council

For media inquiries, contact the Committee Chairman, Senator Forshaw on
(02) 9545 3112 or 0418 119 526.

For all other inquiries contact the Inquiry Secretary, John Carter, on 02 6277 4306 or visit the committee website at

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jfadt/africa%2009/index.htm

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha


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