Archive for 2018

Property Watch: Pokolbin estate listed for sale with $5.5 million price guide

TRANQUILITY: This Hunter Valley Estate is being marketed through an expressions of interest campaign and is expected to sell in the new year for over $5 million.A “spectacular”25-acre property right in the heart of Hunter Valley Wine Country with a guide of $5.5 million is being marketedas “the most talked-about listing to come to market this year”
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Cain Beckett of Jurds Real Estate is marketing the property at 138 Gillards Road, Pokolbin.

It features a luxurious homestead with breathtaking mountain views and also has a pool, tennis court, cellar door, restaurant, winery, additional cottage and a boutique vineyard.

“It’s an exceptionally large luxury home and it’s the prime location in the Hunter Valley,” Mr Beckett said.

“If you’re going to live in wine country, that’s where you want to be. It’s got everything.”

The property hit the market two weeks ago and has already caught the eye of plenty of prospective buyers.

“The interest is strong and isalmost exclusively coming out of Sydney,” he said.

“But you do find there is a Newcastle marketbecause it’s reasonably accessible and offers apretty good lifestyle.”

The property is being marketed through an expressions of interest campaign.

AERO STANDS TALLGWH Build’s newest multi-story residential development AERO on 770 Hunter Street has been completed and settlements are being taken and residents moving in.

It is located at 770 Hunter Street and is currently the tallest building in Newcastle at 14 storeys high.

It features 45 architecturally designed apartmentswithcommercial spaceat street level.

Residents will also benefit from the communal rooftop terrace with 360 degree views of the region.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: GWH Build have completed construction of the city’s tallest building AERO, which has a rooftop terrace. Picture: Jon Reid, Sharperstill

HISTORIC WARATAHBuilt circa 1870, it is believed to be one of the original homes of Waratah.

The home at 45 Platt Street is being marketed by Robert Crawford, of Robert Crawford Real Estate, and retains many of its original features, including convict brickwork.

Its first open home will be held today at 11am and it has been listed with a price range of $620,000 to $670,000.

ORIGINAL CHARM: This residence was built in the late 1800s and was one of the first homes of Waratah. It still features convict brickwork.

GIFT FOR HMRIFirst National Newcastle City were in the gift-giving spirit as the festive season approached, donating$20,000 to the lifesaving medical research organisation Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) this month.

The money was raised during the agency’sSpring Fling Auction Campaign and PrincipalGeorge Rafty was honoured to present the final cheque.

“As a local small business, we are extremely pleased that we can give back to such an important organisation,” he said.

“I have personal reasons for supporting the organisation, with parents on both side of my family having succumbed to cancer and stroke in recent times.

“It is devastating to watch loved ones fight against a disease that researchers may one day be able to cure”.

RARE RELEASEThree near-level, north-facing and generous-sized lots with golf frontage in The Vintage are being marketed through Vintage Realty as part of a limited land release in the Hunter Valley golf estate.

The lots range in size from 771 square metres to 827 square metres and from $375,000 to $399,000 in price.

TREND CONTINUESA development site at 57 Bulls Garden Road that was marketed with a guide of $2 million through Street Property Group’s Andrew Walker has sold for an undisclosed sum.

It has development application approval for seven blocks of land with houses and continues a trend for the road which has experienced plenty of market activity this year.

Read more:

Waterfront property reaches new heightsMaryville trend continues for auctionsEntertaining options all year round

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Goodbye tax havens? Facebook vows to pay local taxes

Facebook is changing its tax structure so that it will pay taxes in 25 countries where sales are made, rather than funnelling its ad sales through its Irish subsidiary.
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The company said it will move to a “local selling structure” in countries where it has an office to support sales to local advertisers. Facebook shifted its international business operations to Ireland in 2010.

Facebook has since come under pressure from the US and Europe for its tax practices. Last year, the company said it would stop routing UK sales through Ireland after public outcry over news that Facebook paid only ??4327 ($70470) in taxes in 2014. In the US, the company is locked in a battle with the Internal Revenue Service that may cost it more than $US5 billion ($6.3 billion), plus interest and penalties, related to global operations that are reported by the Irish unit.

“We believe that moving to a local selling structure will provide more transparency to governments and policy makers around the world who have called for greater visibility over the revenue associated with locally supported sales in their countries,” chief financial officer Dave Wehner wrote in a statement.

The European Commission is looking into ways to tax digital companies like Facebook as it seeks to raise money from an industry that the commission says provides less tax than it should.

The Commission also has ordered Apple to pay about ???13 billion ($19.5 billion) in back taxes to Ireland, after it said the country granted unfair deals that reduced the tech giant’s corporate tax bill. Apple and Ireland are appealing the ruling.

Facebook’s announcement is an “important change that is a step in the right direction,” the Italian Treasury said in a statement.

Wehner said Facebook plans to implement the change through 2018 with a goal of switching all its offices to the new structure by the first half of 2019.

The company has more than 30 international offices. Facebook said it will keep its US headquarters in suburban San Francisco, and Dublin will continue to be the international hub.


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Unique approach to Seniors Living

UNIQUE: Cameron Glen will offer the freedom and the independence of a retirement village with all the support of a traditional aged care facility.A new exciting concept in Seniors Living is coming to Newcastle.
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It’s called Cameron Glen, and combinesthe three tiers of traditional Seniors Living:

All with your own villa unit in one village. There is nothing like this in Newcastle.

The advantages of such a village include:

Couples stay together regardless of each individuals health care needsYou have your own home with a full kitchen and a community centre kitchen for mealsNo ACAT or means testing involved but you can obtain or bring your ACAT fundingYou choose and change the type and level of domestic and care services as you needOn-site Nursing staff available to provide care services 24 hours a day 7 days a weekThe village can cater for non-violent dementia and palliative careYou don’t have to move from one villa unit or village to another as your needs changeIt should only be necessary to pay a deferred management fee once in your lifeMeals will be available for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week in the Community Centre dining room at very affordable prices for residents who don’t wish to cook, and a fully catered morning tea will be served every day free of charge for all residents.

The Community Centre is also used for resident activities like exercise classes, bingo, craft sessions, movie nights and visiting entertainers. There is a village bus for regular shopping trips and outings.

The Nursing staff provide 24/7 care in the home of residents.

Some residents won’t need any care. Some may only need help getting started in the morning with showering and dressing and medication supervision. Some may require high care.

Residents live in their own fully self-contained villa unit.

This can be either one, two or three bedrooms, with either one or two bathrooms.

The units come fully equipped with all appliances. Each unit has its own sunny, private rear courtyard.

Cameron Glen will be a fully accredited Approved Aged Care provider that can facilitate access to Government Funded Home Care packages for residents.

The team behind Cameron Glenunderstand that seniors want to live as independently as possible but also feel they are independent, in control, maintain their dignityand self-worth.

They want to live in their own home and receive all the domestic and care support they need.

This is what Cameron Glen provides. This is what makes Cameron Glen unique.

Cameron Glen is very different to any other Seniors’ Living complex.

It offers the freedom and the independence of a retirement village with all the support of a traditional aged care facility.

Call 4958 8880 today for your information pack.

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The girl who topped engineering at a boys school

The top engineering HSC student at Randwick Boys’ High School is a champion athlete. And a girl.
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Scarlett Pye, 17, was a student at the neighbouring Randwick Girls’ High when she desperately wanted to study engineering but her school did not offer it. Rather than miss out, the state 400m hurdles champion joined a class of about 20 boys to study it for the HSC.

She excelled and topped the subject in years 11 and 12 and is confident it will be her best subject when HSC results are released on Thursday morning.

“I love building and designing things and I have some cousins who are engineers and so it is something I always thought I would love to do,” Scarlett said.

“The boys in my class were great and all very supportive.”

She hopes to study at civil engineering and surveying at the University of NSW or aeronautical engineering at Sydney University.

But Scarlett, who has been the state 400m hurdles champion for three years and is the national silver medallist, also has her sights on the Olympics, either Tokyo in 2020 or Paris in 2024. She is used to juggling training with her studies.

She competed in the NSW All Schools championship the day before she sat her first HSC exam but she says training kept her calm during year 12.

Studying for the HSC and training several times a week, as well as travelling for meets, made studying “very difficult” but she never dreamed of giving it away.

“If I keep training and competing like I am now, I definitely have a good chance of making it to the Olympics,” she said.

“I think if I didn’t keep running, I would have been totally overwhelmed by the HSC if I didn’t have that balance.”

Scarlett is coached by her father and is a member of the Asics West Track and Field Club at Auburn. She said without the support of her family and her teachers and principals at both schools, she could not have managed to do so well.

The principal of Randwick Girls, Lucy Andre, said Scarlett had always been an exceptional role model at the school.

“Scarlett displays a lot of leadership qualities and she is never scared of a new challenge,” Ms Andre said.

“She is an excellent role model of the girls in this school.”

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World’s biggest 100 polluting companies put on notice by investors to tackle climate change

Shareholders have turned up the heat on the world’s 100 biggest polluting companies including n firms BHP Billiton, Wesfarmers and Rio Tinto, in the first coordinated global effort by investors to force corporate action on climate change.
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The Climate Action 100+ initiative, to be launched in Paris on Tuesday evening eastern standard time, will target 100 global companies responsible for an estimated 15 per cent of global emissions.

It marks a significant escalation of investor pressure on corporations to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, improve climate-related financial disclosures and increase governance on climate change.

More than 200 of the world’s biggest investors, responsible for $26 trillion in assets, have signed up to the initiative. It includes n investment giants n Super, AMP Capital, VicSuper, First State Super, Hesta and Cbus.

Shareholder action on climate change has been gathering pace, given new momentum by the Paris climate accord. A strong response from the international corporate sector is needed if the goal of limiting the global rise in average temperatures to no more than two degrees is to be met.

Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change in , said two years had passed since the Paris climate deal was signed and investors now wanted “action that’s faster and goes further than what we’ve seen before”.

Ms Herd cited Exxon Mobil, the world’s biggest oil company, which was this year forced by a shareholder vote to be more transparent about the impact of climate change on its business.

“Engagement between investors and the companies they own is one of the core foundations of our economy and how it runs,” she said.

If a company does not respond to investor demands on climate change, shareholder options include resolutions and votes, and divestment.

Investors who sign up to the effort can nominate companies to be added to the list.

Companies in the sectors of oil and gas, electricity and transport make up the bulk of the 100 companies. It also includes PepsiCo and Nestle, as well as the Wesfarmers group which includes Coles, Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks, as well as coal mine assets.

A spokesperson for Wesfarmers said: “Wesfarmers regularly engages with investors on this issue and will continue to do so. As a group, we strive to reduce the emissions intensity of our businesses and improve their resilience to climate change.”

The methodology used to compile the list included direct and indirect emissions, as well as emissions from transport and product consumption.

Anne Simpson, investment director of sustainability at CalPERS, the largest public pension system in the United States, said there was “nowhere to hide from climate risk”.

“Ultimately shareholders are the owners of these companies and … if we don’t make sure these companies make the transformation to a low carbon economy we are exposed to the risks of their emissions, not just directly through the investments we’ve got in those companies but also by the indirect impact on all the other assets in our portfolio,” she said.

BHP Billiton declined to comment. Its latest annual report said it had a “strong record of supporting and complying with robust reporting requirements on climate change issues”.

Rio Tinto had not responded at the time of publication. The company’s website says it is “taking action to improve productivity and reduce emissions. Our challenge is to meet the world’s growing needs for the metals and minerals we produce, while addressing the issue of climate change.”

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THE HERALD’S OPINION: Hunter out-of-home care provider quizzed over its operations

PRIVATISATION has been one of the most dominant political trends of the past 30 or so years. While some on the left still rally against privatisation in any guise, most people seem nowadays comfortable withprivatising a hostof services that were once run by government.
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Recently, enthusiasm for privatisation has resulted in a wholesale overhaul of the disability sector, with the NSW government handing over all of its responsibilities in this area to a range of operators. A similar process is happening in the out-of-home care sector, and while a lot of the organisations, such as Life Without Barriers, are set up as not-for-profits, there are other groups that are privately owned and run with a firm eye towards making a profit out of the provision of services that are funded often entirely by taxpayers. One such operator is the Cardiff-based Premier Youthworks, which looks after about 80 children in the Hunter and the ACT. Late last year, Premier, along with Life Without Barriers, was examined by the ABC’s Four Corners, where questions were raised about the amount of money that appeared to be flowing to the company, in contrast with an alleged paucity of funds going towards the children in care.

A year later, new concerns have been raised about the company: concerns that the company’s sole director dismisses as coming from disgruntled former employees. This may be the case, but that need not necessarily mean that the concerns are unfounded.

In the wake of the Four Corners episode, the state government funding agency began a review of Premier, but as is almost invariably the custom in this regard, the government is refusing to say anything meaningful about its investigation. The Newcastle Herald accepts without reservation that the job that Premier and other agencies are paid by the government to do is extremely demanding. Many of the children have what are usually termed “complex and challenging behaviours”. Looking after them can be difficult, and sometimes dangerous, work.

But taking on this admittedly onerous rolecannot become a rationale for excessive profit-taking.Premier has acknowledged a need for more “transparency” in its reporting, but unless the government providesa corresponding transparency when it comes to its dealings with subcontractors such as Premier,thenthe public has no real assurance that the system is working. Or, most importantly of all, that the children are being given the best care possible.

ISSUE: 38,673.

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Fast-bowling godfather Lillee sees signs of greatness in Cummins

The country’s greatest fast bowler, Dennis Lillee, has opened up on his role in the revival of Pat Cummins’ Test career and branded ‘s bowling quartet one of the best all-round attacks he had seen.
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Cummins, 24, is looking to crown an eye-catching first summer Test series at home by clinching the Ashes with in the third Test against England, starting at the WACA on Thursday.

Glory in Perth would cap a determined fightback from a succession of stress fractures in his back and other injuries that held him out of Test calculations for more than five years.

Lillee, a godfather to n fast bowlers, has played a part in that comeback, having previously helped Mitchell Johnson rediscover his best with ultimately spectacular results in the previous Ashes series in . As a mentor and coach to Cummins, the legendary figure assisted in re-modelling his bowling action, telling him that he could make up for lost time by going on to headline the n attack for another decade.

“I believe Pat is at the stage of his career where he could bowl on anything and bowl well,” Lillee told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“The thing that I’ve noticed, and this is the thing with great fast bowlers … batsmen tend to not get onto them. They’ve always got something up their sleeve. They rarely get torn apart and they seem to sort of have this belief and ability to bowl well on any wicket to any batsman in any situation, and he has that.”

Cummins demonstrated he had the brains to match the brawn on even the flattest of tracks in India this year, and his ability to out-think a batsman and heap pressure on the opposition has continued in his first Ashes series.

If he lost any speed in the reshaping of his technique, Cummins has well and truly compensated for it elsewhere.

“That was part of the renovation … that he’d probably go backward in pace to get this slight remodelling,” Lillee said.

“But I said to him that the very, very good fast bowlers always come down in pace at some stage. You’ve got to learn some tricks and learn to be able to bowl a great length at any stage and then you vary it from there.

“Pat had to remodel his action to get it safer, and to do that you often slow down for a while.”

Lillee was first drawn to Cummins by watching his man-of-the-match performance on Test debut as a teenage tearaway against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2011.

Later, when Cummins was on the comeback trail from yet another fitness setback, he was recommended to Lillee by Johnson, who told him: “You’ve just got to see Dennis”.

Cummins took the advice, paid for his own airfare to Perth and accommodation there and flew over to begin an association that continues today.

“From an 18-year-old, when I first saw some highlights of him in South Africa … there are only half a dozen like this in the world who made me go ‘Wow’ when I’ve seen them bowl,” Lillee said.

“I felt quite proud that he asked me to help him, but let me tell you the hard work has been done by him. And much like Mitch Johnson and Brett Lee, the contact is always open and we’ve kept that going.

“When he was probably going through that frustrating period of a few years I said: ‘When you come back in again you’re just going to be a very young man with 10 years left.’ And that’s what he had to have in the back of his mind so he didn’t rush things.”

With Cummins thriving, now have a highly effective bowling unit – also featuring Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon – that is winning rave reviews and matches.

“It’s one of the best all-round attacks I’ve seen for many a day,” Lillee said. “Any of them could lead the attack, any of them could be first change and Nathan Lyon has turned into one of the best off-spinners we’ve seen.

“It’s a pretty potent attack. Any of them can take a bag of wickets. That’s rare.”

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No need for the feel-good stories as Horn prepares for Corcoran

It’s time for the heartfelt narrative of the goodly school teacher-turned-boxing champion to be set aside – for the moment at least.
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Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) doesn’t need to be a Cinderella Man on Wednesday night in Brisbane. He needs to step out like a hardened pro and take care of business against a hand-picked opponent who stands in the way of a big-money US debut in 2018.

Gary Corcoran wasn’t the first option for Horn’s first defence of the WBO welterweight title, which was seized from Manny Pacquiao earlier in the year following a bout that dominated boxing headlines around the globe for weeks.

Nor was he the second, or probably the third. But he’s here, Mr Right Now, and saying all the right things before he steps into the ring at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The kid can fight; that’s all Horn needs to know.

“It’s very tough when you fight these guys that are unknown. You always have to be wary of guys like Corcoran, because they come to fight, he’s come to take the title,” said former light-welterweight champion Amir Khan, who was a keen spectator at Wednesday’s weigh-in.

“This is the biggest opportunity he’s [Corcoran] going to get. It’s going to be a good fight.”

Corcoran and his team have refused to let the hometown fighter and his future aspirations dominate the conversation. They feel they have been completely overlooked, much the same way Horn was against Pacquiao. Ring announcer Michael Buffer calling him “Gary Gallagher” as he called him to the scales probably didn’t help.

His team, notably hirsute co-trainer Frank Greaves, have done all they can to hurl a cat in the pigeon coop. Suggestions that Horn fights dirty – something Pacquiao and Freddie Roach may well agree with – have been seeping out for weeks.

Any pretense was dropped at the pre-fight press conference on Monday, when Greaves producing a video dossier of what they believe is Horn charging in with his head. Horn hasn’t seen the funny side. Their face-off on Tuesday was tense, real and worthy of a bout with much at stake, especially with Terence Crawford waiting in the wings as a mandatory.

Corcoran (17-1, 7KOs) could do with some good fortune, especially since it’s an away game. If referee Benjy Esteves jnr takes note and decides to clamp down on Horn’s head-on-chest style of fighting, it could make for some tricky adjustments. Or, as Jeff Fenech pointed out, they could stop complaining and adjust rather than admonish.

The 27-year-old hails from an Irish traveller family and lives in a north-west London camp, right in the shadow of the arch from Wembley Stadium. He’s one of 12 siblings and all of his eight brothers have stepped in the ring at one stage or another.

He arrived as somewhat of a sacrificial lamb for Horn, plucked from England due to his exciting style and aggression. Since he arrived three weeks ago, there has been a niggling feeling that Horn’s matchmakers have bitten off about as much as they can chew.

With Horn struggling to make weight – he did by just 16 grams – and distracted by impending fatherhood, Corcoran has firmed in betting. His trainer, Peter Stanley, has become more bullish by the day.

“He’s focused, determined. He’s as strong if not stronger. It’s the first time Jeff has been in a live fight,” Stanley said. “He’s got the skills. He’ll show it tomorrow [Wednesday] night.

“We’ve fought away from home before, in front of bigger crowds, more hostile crowds, against bigger boys. It’s nothing new here. I’m very happy and very confident.

“We’ve been completely overlooked since we got here. All this nonsense from the other camp saying they respect us. They picked us. They have picked us. When Gary wins, who’s fault is it going to be?”

And on Buffer’s bungled attempt at introducing Corcoran: “He’ll know his name afterwards, I guarantee that.”

Promoter Bob Arum has arrived in Brisbane, quick to remind both parties of what could be in their immediate future should they hold up their end of the bargain. Even if Crawford couldn’t attend due to visa issues, his shadow looms over the entire contest.

“Terence Crawford will be the mandatory for this fight. Buildings are on hold… the biggest building in Las Vegas, the T-Mobile Arena, is on hold. It’s going to be a tremendous year in the welterweight division and these two participants will be giving it all to see who will go ahead as part of these major programs,” Arum said.

That kind of contest will be salivating for Horn, who only six months ago was the one desperate to make a name for himself. Now he’s the champion, he must deal with hungry contenders like Corcoran, or his prized belt will be on the first plane to back to London.

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Third bidder likely for AWE

As a bidding war erupts between two firms for n energy junior AWE, a new third bidder could send the price above half a billion dollars.
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December has seen a frenzy of activity for AWE, as it became the takeover target for China Energy Reserves and Chemical Group (CERCG) and Minerals Resources, which are looking to gain access to ‘s domestic gas supply markets through acquisition of AWE’s Waitisia gas project.

CERCG has made two successive bids, with its current, all cash proposal standing at a revised 73?? a share, or $463 million, after it withdrew its initial offer of 71?? a share.

Mineral Resources has made a $484 million, all scrip offer for the gas company valuing it at 80?? a share.

Regal Funds Management, an AWE shareholder, believes another bid is on the horizon.

“There is potential for another bidder to enter the fray,” Regal Funds Management Portfolio Manager Julian Barbarczy said.

Ellerston Capital, AWE’s largest shareholder, was unavailable for comment.

A source close to AWE also said a third bidder could be on the horizon.

“We think there’s a couple of parties looking at the situation closely, [another bidder] is not outside the realms of possibility,” he said.

While Beach Energy, the 50/50 joint venture partner with AWE in the Waitsia gas project, has remained quiet, some in the market believes it may soon make its own bid to wrest control of Waitsia.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if [Beach] got into the action, the bidding isn’t done yet,” Mr Barbarczy said.

A source familiar with Beach Energy told Fairfax Media the possibility of its carrying out another major acquisition, just months after its $1.585 billion acquisition of Lattice Energy, is an unlikely prospect.

“Beach has just acquired Lattice and is going through the integration of it, so its focus would be on this at the moment,” the source said.

Regal Funds Management believes at their current price, neither Mineral Resources nor CERCG’s bid is likely to pass the board as both have undervalued the company.

“Their pencils need to be sharpened,” Mr Barbarczy said.

“We think something closer to $1 is more acceptable to shareholders,” Mr Barbarczy said.

This price point is closer RBC Capital Markets analyst Ben Wilson’s forecasts.

Mr Wilson sees a risked valuation of AWE at 91?? a share – or $550 million – and an unrisked valuation of as high as $1.13, creating an acquisition value of $683 million.

“AWE is currently trading at around a 10per cent premium to the implied Mineral Resources bid which suggests to us that the market is positioning for either a higher bid from CERCG, an upwardly revised bid from Mineral Resources or a possible third bidder,” Mr Wilson said.

“Despite likely capital gains tax rollover relief for eligible investors, we think a cash bid at a similar price to an implied scrip bid should be preferred by shareholders and the AWE board.”

A source close to AWE said an offer above 80?? would make a potential bidder much better placed to gain AWE’s board endorsement.

Mr Barbarczy said shareholders currently have no preferred bid, but did state CERCG’s cash offer, compared to Mineral Resources scrip proposal, provides more certainty.

“The scrip offer would have to be at a premium to be accepted,” he stated.

AWE’s price fell more than three per cent this morning, sending shares slipping to 81??. Why AWE?

What makes AWE such an attractive takeover target?

One word: Waitsia.

The Waitsia gas project is one of the largest onshore gas discoveries in in the last thirty years, and it has the potential to expand its current proven and probable reserves well beyond its current levels.

In its third-quarter results, the group had already lifted its proven and probable reserves by a quarter, to 228 petajoules of gas.

An independent review in November lifted this figure by 78 per cent to 811 petajoules.

This review also lifted AWE’s 3P reserves – that is proven, probable and possible – to 1,219.6 petajoules.

“TheWaitsiaStage 2 development project is planned to deliver 100 terajoules a day for at least 10 years,” AWE chief executive David Biggs said.

This is equivalent to production rates of more than a petajoule a fortnight.

CERCGbelieve this figure could be even higher.

“CERCG acknowledges that the Waitsiagas field, and its increasing proved and probable reserves and future development, has the potential to return value to AWE shareholders in the longer term,” it said.

“It is for this reason that CERCG is prepared to pay such a substantial premium for AWE.”

AWE also recorded a 156 per cent increase in production year on year at itsWaitsiaStage 1 project.

“Suffice to say, Western need gas, and there’s lots of it in this project,” Mr Barbarczy said.

Access to this project was the main driver for similar, and eventually rejected, takeover bids from private equity firm Lone Star Funds and Senex Energy.

In May last year, it rejected an unsolicited $421 million cash takeover proposal from Lone Star Funds, and in 2013 knocked back Senex’s cash and share offer.

Full control of the asset has been hotly contested since Origin announced its intention to divest a 50 per cent holding of the project through its spin-off Lattice Energy, which was eventually acquired by Beach Energy.

While the project is now split 50/50 between Beach and AWE, both Senex and Lone Star are believed to have attempted to gain a foothold in the project through Lattice Energy, while AWE partnered with global equity giant KKR to grab 100 per cent control of the project.

In addition to Waitsia, AWE has domestic gas exposure through its BassGas and Casino projects in Victoria, and an international offshore project in the Natuna Sea, off Indonesia.

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China’s shopping centre king turns in his crown

Less than week after being knighted by the Queen, ‘s king of retail malls, Frank Lowy, is abdicating this throne – selling his stake in his international empire to European giant Unibail-Rodamco.
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And his timing is impeccable.

Retail malls are by no means dead but the economics of running them is changing thanks to growth in online shopping.

Around 2009, the legendary investment adage went something along the lines of: if you invested $1000 dollars when Sir Frank floated Westfield in 1960, you would be worth about $148 million.

But if you invested in Westfield 18 months ago, you would have lost money even if you accepted the $10-a-share offer now on the table.

In the same way retail has been disrupted by the internet – Lowy the Westfield landlord has already started to feel the same pressure.

The landlord is no longer at the top of the food chain and the legendary tough treatment Westfield dished out to its retail tenants is changing. Instead it is giving way to retailers like Solomon Lew and many others who are closing stores unless rents are renegotiated.

Ultimately the power continues to shift to the customer – who gets to choose whether they shop in a physical store or with plenty of internet-enabled transparency, which gives them the ability to minimise the price they pay.

This is a style of business that wouldn’t suit Lowy.

For more than 50 years, Lowy was the innovator in retail property. Having come to post-war in 1952, he teamed up with another immigrant, John Saunders, to build shopping centres in and ultimately in the UK and Europe.

It was the combination of the smarts, toughness, entrepreneurship and hard work that took them from rags to riches.

He certainly fathered the retail mall model in . And he made himself and his family billionaires, placing them in the upper echelons of the richest in with an estimated wealth of $8.2 billion.

Most of Westfield’s retail centres are at the higher end of the market that has weathered the internet better than strip shopping or smaller, more regional/suburban shopping centres.

And their ability to weather continued digital disruption should be enhanced by the type of massive consolidation – the larger company that will emerge from the takeover of Westfield will span 27 of the world’s biggest and wealthiest markets. And it has already identified ???100 million of cost-cutting measures.

But it won’t have a Lowy around the board table or in its management ranks. Lowy says he will retain an investment but it will be small percentage of shares on issue.

Those malls that do flourish will ultimately evolve into entertainment complexes that cater to a range of activities, theatres, restaurants, sports etc – and some shopping.

Lowy has had plenty of time to see what the future might look like. Back in 2014, the family undertook a major reorganisation of the corporate empire which saw it sell down its ownership of n shopping centres and focus its resources on the international assets – which are primarily in the US and UK.

The n business is now called Scentre and the family owns only about 4 per cent. The Lowys have an interest in the internationally focused Westfield Corp of about 10 per cent and are the largest shareholders.

There has been sporadic speculation for around three years that Westfield was the object of some interest by other international retail property giants.

As the rumour goes, they couldn’t settle on a price with Lowy.

But he is clearly smart enough to see the time won’t get any better if he wants to deal.

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