High above Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, Bell Potter’s newly opened New York office is trying to find a way to get US investors interested in Australian stocks once again. Bell Potter’s small New York team of Chris Brice and Steve Cossettini has been charged with that task, something that would be no mean feat given the US stockmarket is enjoying its longest bull market on record. Mr Brice and Mr Cossettini, who formally opened the doors of Bell Potter’s New York office in July, know they have factors going against them. Securing the necessary licences needed to operate in the US has been a costly and time-consuming process, but Bell Potter believes the expanded presence will help it secure more corporate clients out of Australia. The sheer scale of the US market means Bell Potter has its work cut out, but Mr Brice says the firm is prepared to be patient.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd (BEN):
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s next-gen digital bank, Up, is open for business, with CEO Marnie Baker confident it ticks all of the boxes for customers looking for more choice. Australia’s fifth-largest retail institution announced the plans to launch the mobile-centric offering in August and the two-month beta trial saw 1500 customers use the banking app, which processed more than $2.2 million. According to Ms Baker, the app was another step in the bank’s strategy to partner with innovative technology businesses to offer better functionality to consumers. The app, developed by Melbourne -based developer Ferocia, gives customers complete clarity on how they are spending their money, predicts upcoming charges automatically and has no international purchase fees online or in-store, with no need for customers to transfer money back and forth between multi-currency accounts. Ferocia and Up co-founder Dom Pym said that the app could successfully compete with the offerings of the big banks.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA):
Commonwealth Bank has today detailed plans to overhaul its wealth businesses - to review fees charged to dead customers and taking steps to remove fees on legacy wealth products in response to issues raised in the royal commission. In an announcement to market, the bank said it would rebate all grandfathered commission to Commonwealth Financial Planning customers from next January, what is estimated to benefit around 50,000 customers to the value of $20 million annually. “Charging unauthorised advice fees to deceased estates is unacceptable. A broader review of deceased estates is underway across our advice licensees,” CBA wealth management chief Michael Venter said, adding that so far 12 instances had been identified from an initial search of 142,000 accounts. “We support the removal of grandfathered commissions from superannuation and investment products across the wider industry and believe a legislative approach should be considered.”
Nextdc Ltd (NXT):
The battle between NextDC and Asia Pacific Data Centres has seemingly reached an end after more than a year of acrimony between the companies. NextDC has offered APDC unitholders a deal of $2 per unit, which will be coupled with two lots of distributions of 2c each. The offer values APDC, which owns data centres in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, at $261 million. NextDC is the tenant of those data centres. In an agreement, a special distribution has been declared of 2c per unit, which will be paid on November 14. The deal comes after AJD approached NextDC to buy the company after its 10-month search for a buyer failed. The offer and distribution is equal to the net tangible asset valuation placed on APDC at the end of the 2018 financial year. NextDC owns a 29.2 per cent stake in the company and it will spend $232m on buying the shares it doesn’t own from the APDC register, where 360 Capital holds 67.3 per cent.
Nick Scali Ltd (NCK):
It may be too early for investment banks to start finding buyers for Greenlit Brands, formerly known as Steinhoff Asia Pacific. But should Nick Scali Furniture line up for the business, as expected, when Greenlit Brands is placed on the market, it is thought that Macquarie Capital will be on hand to assist with the acquisition. It is understood Macquarie was involved in earlier talks with Greenlit Brands, which owns Freedom Furniture and Fantastic Furniture, on behalf of Nick Scali. The bank has worked with Nick Scali before and should the latter acquire Greenlit Brands it will no doubt need to draw on Macquarie’s equity raising skills to help pay for the business. Greenlit Brands is expected to be placed on the market next year through Rothschild and Monash Private Capital, and may even try for an initial public offering.
Pact Group Holdings Ltd (PGH):
Packaging company Pact Group, controlled by Melbourne billionaire Raphael Geminder, may struggle to meet its 2019 earnings forecast of $270 million-$285m with high Australian dollar resin prices potentially affecting volumes, according to Credit Suisse. Pact — which ousted boss Malcolm Bundey last month after less than three years in the role — may not be able to endorse its 2019 fiscal year guidance once a permanent chief executive is appointed, the broker said. “Australian dollar plastic resin remains very high so we have become more conservative in our cost recovery assumptions and volume elasticity,” Credit Suisse analysts said in a note. “We also concede that investor confidence in the company is low — especially with uncertainty around the CEO position.” The price of resin — a raw -material used to make plastic — could jump 28 per cent in the first half of 2019 compared with the same period last year, the broker estimates.
Ramsay Health Care Ltd (RHC):
Ramsay Health’s French subsidiary has increased its bid for European private hospital operator Capio but 20 per cent - taking the value of the offer to $1.28 billion. Ramsay, which owns 50.9 per cent of Ramsay Generale de Sante, says its subsidiary lifted its cash offer to 58 Swedish krona per share from 48.5. The company said its bid was expected to be approved by the competition regulator next week but that a proposal by Capio to sell off its French arm would, if firmed up, cause its bid to lapse.
WPP Aunz Ltd (WPP):
Ford Motor Co has appointed Omnicom Group BBDO as its lead creative agency, following one of the most closely watched reviews on Madison Avenue this year. The automotive company announced the appointment overnight (AEDT), casting it as part of a new marketing strategy it said would yield $US150 million in cost savings annually. The news is a setback for WPP, which counts Ford as a top client, and comes a few weeks after the ad-holding firm named a new chief executive. Ford began re-evaluating its marketing model months ago, including the company’s relationship with WPP, which had worked with the car marketer for decades. WPP will continue to work with Ford on duties including its media planning, media buying, shopper and performance marketing, website development and customer-relationship marketing. Although it remains unclear whether WPP sustained a fee cut on the business it kept, the loss of the Ford’s creative duties will cut between $US100 million and $US150 million from WPP’s annual revenue, according to a person familiar with the company.