THE NEWS WRAP: Billabong shares dry up as Altamont and Sycamore walk away


Shares in embattled surfwear giant Billabong plunged 49.5% to just 23 cents after private equity firms Altamont Capital and Sycamore Partners walked away from takeover talks.


The company, which owes $300 million to seven banks through a syndicated debt facility, is now looking to sell some of its brands in order to raise funds to reduce its debt levels, along with a five year refinancing of its debt facilities.


“The refinancing is intended to provide the company with a comprehensive solution and an appropriate capital structure, allowing it to continue its reform agenda,” Billabong chairman Ian Pollard says.


CEPU threatens industrial action against NBN over asbestos fears


The Communications Electrical Plumbing Union has demanded a halt to work rolling out the National Broadband Network over public health fears about asbestos, with the union not ruling out industrial action as a last resort.


The union has also blamed the NBN Co as well as Telstra for the problem, with the union set to meet with executives from both companies to discuss its concerns.


“We strongly believe Telstra and NBN Co have failed in their general obligations to ensure workers and members of the public are not exposed to unnecessary risks,” CEPU national secretary Peter Tighe says.


Coles defends hardball tactics with its suppliers


Coles chief executive Ian McLeod has defended the supermarket giant’s tough negotiating tactics with suppliers, while warning politicians that grocery shoppers who want low prices vote.


“When Coles keeps prices down, competition, affordability, ethical sourcing, community support, farm sales, food manufacturing, jobs and job security all go up. We think that is a good thing, so we’re going to keep on doing it,” McLeod says.


“Many of [our multinational suppliers] are bigger than Coles and make far larger profit margins. Prices are higher than overseas and that’s why we challenge it. These examples include products made overseas and sold overseas at lower retail prices, much lower.”




The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.5% to 15177.5. The Aussie dollar is down to US96.57 cents.