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THE NEWS WRAP: Construction groups play down labour shortage fears after floods

Wednesday, 19 January 2011 | By Oliver Milman

Analysts have warned that the estimated $20 billion cost of rebuilding of Queensland's infrastructure could cause widespread skills shortages and wage inflation in the construction industry.


However, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has downplayed these fears, saying that the sector has enough capacity to handle the aftermath of the floods.


Meanwhile, the latest estimate of lost company earnings as a result of the disaster has been pegged at $500 million.


Branson seeks Virgin alliance


Sir Richard Branson has said that his Virgin Atlantic Airways brand needs to join with other operators in order to protect the company from "mega alliances" he blames regulators for creating.


The entrepreneur said that Virgin Atlantic had "enjoyed being independent" but that it needed a "big brother" to help it to survive for the next 50 years. The business is currently assessing which partner to team up with. Currently, there are three main multi-company aviation alliances - oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam.


LOL all the way to the bank


Its output may be considered to be throwaway, even mindless, entertainment by consumers, but that hasn't stopped the Cheezburger Network raising a staggering $30 million in funding from a group of leading investors.


The US company is behind popular internet meme LOLcats and the Fail series of sites, such as Failbook. The business, founded in 2007, was initially bootstrapped and now boasts an online audience of 16.5 million people.




The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61.53 points to 11,848.91 while the Australian dollar edged up to 99.77 US cents.