Monthly Archives: February 2019

CIMIC makes $256m hostile takeover bid for Queensland’s Sedgman

CIMIC chief executive Marcelino Fernandez Verdes has been seizing control of subsidiaries. Photo: Rob HomerSpanish-led construction group CIMIC has made a $256 million hostile takeover bid for Sedgman after the Queensland engineering group rejected demands to shrink its board.
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CIMIC, which already owns 37 per cent of Sedgman, is offering $1.07 per share in cash for the Queensland group, a 35 per cent premium to its closing share price of 79¢ on Tuesday.

Sedgman shares soared 28¢ on Wednesday to close at $1.07. CIMIC has already started buying Sedgman shares, appointing Credit Suisse Equities to buy any stock offered at or below $1.07.

The Spanish-controlled CIMIC, formerly known as Leighton Holdings, released its bidder’s statement on Wednesday and said the offer was final.

Sedgman, which has appointed Citi as its financial advisor, told investors to take no action on the takeover bid until its board hired an independent expert to review the offer and released a recommendation. Under takeover laws, CIMIC must keep its bid open for at least 30 days.

Sedgman, which had a market capitalisation of $179 million before the takeover bid emerged, has performed well under its current management team, with the company’s shares rising 58 percent over the past 12 months.  More control

But CIMIC wants to exert more control over its subsidiaries. It has also been trying to seize full ownership of residential property developer Devine.

CIMIC’s parent company, Grupo ACS, sent Spanish executives to Australia to run the group after wresting control from its Australian management team in early 2014.

Ben Brownette, analyst at the Commonwealth Bank, said ACS had been successful at turning around parts of CIMIC as well as its controlling shareholder, Germany’s Hochtief.

“There appears logic in the view that Devine and Sedgman could also be improved,” Mr Brownette said, adding that CIMIC could also target mining-related businesses such as Barminco and Ausdrill.

CIMIC voted against Sedgman’s remuneration report at the engineering company’s 2015 annual meeting, as well as the election of three independent directors.

It demanded Sedgman appoint a second CIMIC-nominated director (CIMIC already has one director on the board), reduce the size of its board from six to five, and have direct involvement in the engineering group’s decision making Demands rejected

Sedgman’s board, led by chairman Rob McDonald, rejected CIMIC’s demands.

Analysts at RBC Morgans said a competing bid for Sedgman could emerge given the company had $109 million of cash on its balance sheet and strong intellectual property, but acknowledged CIMIC’s 37 per cent stake would make it difficult for another bidder to succeed.

“Sedgman has built up a strong balance sheet and continued to improve its pipeline of opportunities,” RBC Morgans said.

CIMIC said on Wednesday it wanted to increase its holdings in Sedgman so it could “better support the future direction” of the Queensland company.

It planned to change Sedgman’s board, review its dividend and capital management policies, but continue its existing plans to increase “market and commodity diversification”.

Sedgman, which designs and builds commodity-related infrastructure such as coal handling plants and gold processing facilities, has been trying to diversify away from the coal industry and expand internationally.

CIMIC will also consider delisting Sedgman from the Australian Securities Exchange.

CIMIC’s offer has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board and will be funded from the construction group’s existing funds and debt facilities.

The $256 million takeover bid includes 12.1 million Sedgman performance rights that can be converted into shares and sold into the offer.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Thanks lads, you’re heroes

DON’T MENTION IT: Jackson Rickford, Michael Zechel, Elijah Startin and Jereme Wann with Alwyne Watkins. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.ALWYNE Watkins is certain ofwhatwould have happenedtheday a six-metre sinkhole opened up beneath the wheels ofhis mobility scooterhadfour teenagersnotrushedto his aid.
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“I wouldn’t be here,” Mr Watkins, of Wallsend, said.

“They saved my life. The four of them are heroes in my eyes.”

Jackson Rickford, Michael Zechel andElijah Startin, all 17, and 16-year-old Jereme Wannwere kicking a soccer ball around atWallsend’s George Farley Oval two days before Christmas when they sawMr Watkins approaching on hisscooter.

He stopped in the middle of a path about 100 metres from the boys, then seemed to vanish.

Mr Zechel was first to react.

“I sprintedover and jumped the fencebecause I thought he’d had a fall,” he said.

“Then I looked under my feet and I could see all the way down. It scared the hell out of me.”

Mr Zechelliftedthe scooter with one hand and fought until he hadlifted Mr Watkins, 90, out fromthe craterof the hole where he had been pinned.

At one point, the only thingstopping Mr Watkins from falling into the six-metre hole was having Mr Zechel’s legs wrapped around him.

The other three boysrushed over to find a shaken, gratefulman and his rescuer, their mate.

Mr Startindialedtriple-0 and handed hisphone to a neighbourand paramedics, police and contractors from the Mine Subsidence Board soon arrived.

Mr Watkins was taken to John Hunter Hospital, but hisphysical injuries were limited toa chipped elbow,cracked rib and a cut to his leg that neededstitches.

Part of his gratitude to the boys, he said, stems from the fact that he has grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.

“Thanks to the boys, Iget to have a bitmore time with them,” Mr Watkins said.

Sinkholesor not,neither Mr Watkins nor his rescuers will be put off walking, playing or riding inthe park.

The four mates said on Wednesdaytheyhad been back for a kick around, and Mr Watkins haddriven by to wave from his new scooter.

‘Worse than Game of Thrones red wedding’: Liberal MPs face axe before federal election

John Alexander, the member for Bennelong, pictured with former PM Tony Abbott and local newspaper proprietor John Booth, who was awarded a ”matehood”. Photo: Nick Moir Philip Ruddock is the party’s longest-serving MP. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Stalwart and non-factional Senator Bill Heffernan is also in factional sights. Photo: Andrew Meares

Comment: The seven things to hate most about elections

A radical factional hitlist has been drawn up that would see more than half-a-dozen high profile federal MPs in NSW face preselection challenges before this year’s election.

“It’s threatening to put the Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding scene in the shade,” said one senior member of the NSW party.

Sources from all three factions of the NSW Liberal party have confirmed plans are underway for widespread challenges from the party’s dominant left faction and its centre-right. MPs including John Alexander (Bennelong), Senator Bill Heffernan and Philip Ruddock (Berowra) are in the sights of challengers.

Party sources said it appeared increasingly likely party elders Heffernan and Ruddock would retire rather than face challenges.

A senior Liberal source said the party’s Left was now eyeing the seat of Bennelong, won back from Labor by Mr Alexander in 2010. A source on the Right, which would likely back Mr Alexander, questioned whether it would succeed but said it appeared moves against the MP were being made.

Mr Alexander is not aligned to either faction.

“I am not a candidate,” said local left winger and councillor Craig Chung. “I don’t know who is saying that [but] I suspect are others are trying to cover their own challenge”.

The party is also alive with rumours that NSW factional boss Jai Rowell is backing an audacious bid to depose mooted future leader Angus Taylor in the southern NSW seat of Hume by installing Russell Matheson.

“Oh, he [Rowell] is gunning for him,” said one Liberal federal MP. “They [the party’s state executive] are even looking at [changing deadlines] so he can’t escape [to the Upper house] if challenged”.

Mr Matheson is the federal MP for Macarthur, a seat with a margin likely to be severely eroded by a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Mr Rowell’s wife, Belinda, works in the MP’s office.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells also appears vulnerable to a challenge from the party’s left wing, according to members of her own conservative right faction.

A source said Mr Rowell, as the state MP, had created six branches in the electorate with Mr Taylor’s sign-off before rumours began he would turn the numbers against him.

NSW MP Mr Rowell has moved between factional groupings with fluidity. He recently declared himself a leader of the Liberals’ right wing before taking his numbers to its dominant left faction shortly after being demoted from Premier Mike Baird’s ministry.

The looming plans will be a test for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s political authority and the desire to present an image of a stable party and enjoy the benefits of incumbency in his first election.

“It’s clear that the ‘NSW disease’ is now bi-partisan,” said one federal Liberal MP. “Malcolm has to step up and defend his front-bencher [Senator Fierravanti-Wells]. This spiteful take no prisoners approach is eroding all collegiality in the parliamentary party”.

Mr Turnbull recently told a NSW party meeting that the Liberals, unlike Labor, were not run by factions. He was met with hoots of laughter.

The Herald has already revealed Craig Kelly and Bronwyn Bishop appear likely to face challenges.

Many of the replacements will see older MPs less rigid in their factional alignment replaced by young and loyal operatives.

Senator Heffernan, who would turn 80 at the expiration of the next Senate term, is not aligned to any faction, while Mr Ruddock, while widely seen to be of the party’s Left, is not a formal member of its grouping.

Ironically, the woman set to replace Mr Heffernan is his former employee Hollie Hughes, a former lobbyist and member of the centre-right faction.

Julian Leeser, also from the centre-right, has long been seen as Mr Ruddock’s inevitable successor and works for the Australian Catholic University in government relations.

Insurance industry lobbyist and left-faction member Richard Shields appears the most likely candidate to depose Senator Fierravanti-Wells.

The “red wedding” episode of the fantasy TV show Game of Thrones, featured the particularly graphic murder of a number of popular characters.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

No more excuses for assaulting women

A crime: No more excuses for a crime that kills one woman a week.PROFESSIONAL boxer Kyron Dryden’s excuse for entering another man’s houseand assaulting his former girlfriend, nearly two months after their relationship ended, is apparent in the short film posted on social media after the incident on September 1 last year.
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The film shows Dryden and his brother in a car outside the house, and then in the bedroom, with Dryden saying: “Here’s my missus cheatin’ on me. In her house, in the f…in’ bedroom. Stupid slut.”

In other words, she deserved it.

An ugly social media campaign against Dryden’s former girlfriend Tori-Lee Hillery, who was grabbed by the throat and slammed into a mirror before being “choke-slammed” to the ground, was well underway the following day when one post decided Ms Hillery was a “slut” whoneeded “a good smack in the mouth”. Others were far worse.

In Newcastle Local Court on Monday Dryden and Ms Hillery gave evidence and were cross-examined before magistrate Alan Railton. Dryden denied the assault and stuck to the story about his “missus cheatin’ on” him, despite the fact the relationship had ended –on his version, on his call.

Mr Railton found the assault had occurred, and reduced the matter to a single pithy point –one person was telling the truth and the other was lying through their teeth.

It’s worth noting thatDryden pleaded guilty to breaching apprehended violence orders four times after he was charged with the assault. The orders required him not to make contact with Ms Hillery. Repeatedly breaching theorders showedDryden not only had little or no respect for his former girlfriend, but no respect for orders backed by the NSW justice system.

Dryden is 22. After his conviction on Monday, and before he is sentenced in March, he was back on social media protesting his innocence, saying he was “unfazed and carefree about the situation”, and “sadly the truth that I know hasn’t came (sic) out yet”.

That is now the line being put forward by his supporters, on social media and elsewhere, including one of his sponsorswho posted a photo of Dryden and himself with the words: “Just letting you know that “I’ve got ya back” Brother …if only everyone new (sic) the FULL story.”

That is the excuse someone like Dryden uses after he’sconvicted. The justice system has failed. How, exactly, isn’t stated. As long as you stick to the line that the“full story” hasn’t been aired, you can pretend you aren’t what a court has determined you are –a convicted criminal.

Dryden doesn’t need denialists around him right now. He doesn’t need people willing to accept excuses for his criminal behaviour –when he decided he had the right to keep intruding himself into the life of a young woman after their relationship had ended, assault her, and be complicit in the subsequent vilification of her.

Dryden and his supporters need to hear this. People who blamethe victims of certain crimes–domestic violence, assault orsexual assault, and whether the victims are men or women –need to hear this. No more excuses.

No matter how angry you feel at a partner or former partner, or how aggrieved, the second you take that step into violence you have crossed a line. It’s not just your partner or former partner you’re dealing with, but the laws of this country. You’ve committed a crime, and there are no excuses.

Dryden is a young man who needs supportbefore he’s sentenced, but not the kind he appears to be getting. Like assault itself, the consequences of an assault conviction can be a shock, and devastating.

Wild weather

I wasn’t the only one bemoaning the wild weather that hit the coast the first week of January. The timing was almost comical. Pretty much as soon as the esky was unpacked, the beds made, the outdoor furniture installed, and the beach towels folded at the door of the family holiday house at Hawks Nest, the rain started. Andit was not just a shower or two, but three days of driving gale force squall.
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WHITEWATER: A swimmer braves the elements during the recent storms. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

I exaggerate a little, not about the squall, but the bemoaning. I love wild weather, even days of it, and (like most of my ‘holidays’) I was still writing, so could catch up with work without feeling like I was missing out. The floor to ceiling windows afforded a wide view of the changing shape of the rainstorms. They were waves of another kind, the cycles of fierce lashings softened by bubbles of soft drizzle. I watched the tops of gum trees twist and turn like dancers.

At least once a day I would enter the fray. Umbrella useless, I would surrender to the weather, to the sense of being tossed around as in whitewater, enlivened to be part of the storm rather than safely buffered against it.

I felt for the hardy campers who remained battened down under tarps and canvas at the end of day three of unrelenting rain, cooped up kids yelling and knocking about.

After what felt like a week the sun finally came out, and so too did the hoards of holidaymakers from beneath the shells under which they had been hiding, only to find the beach closed due to large swell.

A small crowd gathered to watch the few crazy surfers negotiate the tubes. Right beside me, one overweight and clearly inexperienced surfer knelt down with a groan to attach his leg rope.

“Are you sure you want to go out?” I asked incredulously, to which he grunted in the affirmative.I regretted letting him go when 10minutes later we watched a hardy swimmer risk his life to his rescue.

His face was in my mind the following day when I approached the beach in the late afternoon to find another crowd gathered alongside police. To the backdrop of a dark Cabbage Tree Island, a police rescue boat ominously trawled behind the breakers. My heart sank, knowing before I asked, that a swimmer had not returned to shore that day.

The following day the choppy swell had returned to an innocuous glassy calm, like a child quickly forgotten his misdemeanour and cherub-faced again.

There was a subdued air about the other beach walkers too, the water rescue boat now resigned to sweeping the rocky coastline at the base of Yacaaba headland. A sun-glassed family huddled down the beach from the throng in silent contemplation of the sea. His family, I guessed, imagining also the dreadful images in their minds as they watched the waves roll in.

Crossing the track to the bay, storm flotsam and jetsam littered the shore – soft corals and seagrass, scores of barnacles torn off rocks, small crabs dismembered and rotting under the now clear and sunny sky.

Claire Dunnis the author of My Year Without Matches