2019-08-16 16:38

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Challenger Ltd (CGF): 
Challenger has reported its full year normalised profit before tax coming in at $548 million. The listed retirement products provider said a "lower-for-longer" interest-rate environment crimped investment earnings and performance fees. Funds under management rose 6 per cent to $77.5 billion, including Fidante Partners FUM up 5 per cent to $58.6 billion and Challenger Investment Partners up 8 per cent to $18.9 billion. Statutory net profit after tax fell 4.6 per cent to $308 million, but it returned a fully franked full year dividend of 35.5 cents a share, the same as last year. It forecast the dividend would be maintained in fiscal 2020. 

Crown Resorts Ltd (CWN): 
Hong Kong casino tycoon Lawrence Ho's Melco Resorts says it plans to complete the purchase of another 10 per cent stake in Crown Resorts from billionaire James Packer, despite questions being raised about whether it breaches Crown's licence for its new casino in Sydney. Melco agreed to buy a 20 per cent stake in Crown worth $1.76 billion from Mr Packer in late May, with one 10 per cent block transferred shortly after and another 10 per cent to change hands before September 30.

Magellan Financial Group Ltd (MFG): 
Magellan Financial Group says it will raise $275 million in new equity via an institutional placement to launch a new publicly listed fund – Magellan High Conviction Trust – as its underlying business continues to perform strongly. The global fund manager said its adjusted net profit after tax rose 35 per cent to $364.2 million in the period ended June 30, as average funds under management ballooned 28 per cent to $75.8 billion. The numbers came in well ahead of analysts' consensus estimates of NPAT of about $343 million. Magellan declared a final dividend of 78 cents a share, plus a "performance fee dividend" of 78c cents a share, payable to shareholders on August 29. The company said the equity raising would consist of 4.98 million new shares at $55.20 each – a slight discount to the closing price of $58.72 on Monday – with most of the proceeds used to fund costs associated with the launch of the Magellan High Conviction Trust initial public offering. Shares are currently trading near all-time high prices. About $50 million would also be used to support a new retirement product under development, seed other investment strategies and strengthen its balance sheet. 

Regeneus Ltd (RGS): 
Medicinal company Regenerus has slashed its monthy operating costs by 50 per cent dow $250,000 thanks to executive pay cuts. Shares are flat at 8.6¢. Chief executive Leo Lee's salary will be cut from $650,000 per year to $290,000 plus equity. And Professor Graham Vesey, who is an executive director and chief scientific officer, will reduce his executive role and save the company $140,000 per year. Mr Vesey is also the biggest shareholder with about 12.7 per cent of Regeneus stock. Chief financial officer and chief operating officer, John Bird, is also taking a pay cut, with the combination of all three saving the company $605,000 per year. "The company will utilise its partnerships with leading universities and contract research organisations to develop and commercialise additional therapies that address a broad range of indications in pain," it told the market. It is also moving to smaller premises. Regeneus is now focused on commercialising pain medicine Progenza and is negotiating with "a major Japanese company" for a commercial licensing deal.

Westpac Banking Corp (WBC): 
The corporate watchdog has lost a landmark case against Westpac Banking Corporation over the bank's alleged breaches of responsible lending laws after a judge found borrowers could ditch luxury food items like wagyu steak and shiraz for more humble fare. The Federal Court on Tuesday dismissed the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's case against the bank after finding the regulator had failed to prove its case. ASIC had alleged Westpac had breached responsible lending laws on more than 260,000 home loan applications by using a benchmark known as the Household Expenditure Measure to assess and estimate a borrowers' expenses rather than reviewing their expenses individually to determine if they could service the loan.

AMP Limited (AMP): 
AMP Capital has undertaken a major restructure of the business led by Carmel Hourigan, the Global Head of Property. AMP Capital is the real estate arm of AMP. It will see the departure of long-time funds manager, Chris Judd. Luke Briscoe will now run all the office funds. The retail business, including the unlisted AMP Shopping Centre Fund, will be under the helm of Brett Williams.

Rural Funds Group (RFF): 
The Financial Review reported on the weekend that Rural Funds Group directors bought $1.2 million worth of securities in the ASX-listed rural property trust two days after a report by short-seller Bonitas Research sent them crashing from $2.35 down to $1.81. Today it emerges that the buying continues, with non-executive director Mike Carroll topping up on last week's purchase. Rural Funds Group shares are up 2.5 per cent at $1.89 today. Director notices filed with the Australian Securities Exchange last week show three entities in which managing director David Bryant has indirect interest acquired almost $500,000 worth of RFF securities at $1.70. RFM chairman Guy Paynter acquired almost $700,000 worth of securities through two separate investment vehicles, acquiring 250,000 securities at $1.77 and 150,000 at $1.70. Non-executive director Mike Carroll spent almost $30,000 acquiring an additional 15,730 RFF securities. And yesterday he spent a further $69,923 on the open market buying 38,105 units in Rural Funds Group's stapled entity Rural Funds Trust. This takes Mr Carroll's total spend to nearly $100,000. 

Tabcorp Holdings Limited (TAH): 
Tabcorp has signed a new agreement with ClubsNSW to lock it in as the exclusive retail wagering provider for 1200 clubs across the state. The wagering giant said today that the new agreement, which runs for three years with an option to extend for another two, would see Tabcorp and ClubsNSW collaborate on marketing, promotion, digital investment and training. Tabcorp was shocked back in 2017 when the former CrownBet (now known as BetEasy) won a tender process run by Clubs-NSW to secure a new digital partner for its members.
(Source: AIMS)
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