The bidding war for Australian dairy assets has taken an unexpected twist, with New Zealand-based dairy giant Fonterra launching an overnight raid on Bega shares. Overnight, Fonterra purchased 10% of Bega in an after-market share raid. Bega, in turn, is one of a number of companies bidding for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, joining Canadian food giant Saputo, Lion and Murray Goulburn. Lion, Bega and Murray Goulburn currently own 45% of WCB, which they are keen to purchase in a bid to cash in on the growing infant formula market in Asia. "The key issue is the purchase of milk off farmers; are there enough people wanting to buy their milk?" ACCC chair Rod Sims says. "Basically Fonterra, Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool buy about one-third of the milk and Bega is quite a small player in that market, so Bega [bidding for WCB] wasn't such an issue. There is a bigger issue with Murray Goulburn.” South Korea close to free trade agreement South Korea is close to agreement on a potential free trade agreement with Australia, following a visit by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop two weeks ago. According to The Australian, the key sticking point in negotiations was a clause dealing with international arbitration, which the Rudd/Gillard government was unwilling to agree to, but the current government is. “The new government is taking a different approach, so the hurdle is being removed,” Young-Moo Kim, director-general for FTA negotiation at South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, says. Murdoch says embrace innovation Rupert Murdoch has urged Australians to embrace the challenges posed by the emergence of a middle class in China through innovation, in a speech to the Lowy Institute. “While the lack of a huge domestic market presents challenges, it also means we have fewer huge industries demanding the government protections common in large industrial nations – and fatal for any society that hopes to advance in a disruptive world,” Murdoch said. “The disruptive forces in the world economy today are as relentless as they are remorseless. But once we embrace that reality, we can make sure they are rewarding.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.47% to 15545.75. The Aussie dollar is at US94.61 cents.
A group representing young entrepreneurs in Australia has called on the federal government to create a $20 million loan fund to encourage the creation of new businesses and jobs. The Enterprise Network for Young Australians (ENYA), has briefed federal politicians on policy options aimed at training and inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs. “Everyone in the government understands that Australia needs to focus on creating jobs and sustainable growth, especially now the mining sector is in decline,” ENYA chief executive Jeremy Liddle told StartupSmart. “We were talking about creating jobs and teaching people to be job creators not job seekers by building companies.” The headline proposal was a $20 million fund to provide seed loans to entrepreneurs under 40 years of age. “In five years, the fund could create 5000 jobs and generate over $30 million in tax revenue,” says Liddle. The four-year fund would be managed by ENYA, who would loan $20,000 to 250 early-stage start-ups a year. ENYA also requested a further half million to manage the administration of the fund. The scheme is modelled on a successful Canadian program ran by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. According to Liddle, the model has a relatively low drop-out rate (6.2%) and most loans are repaid, so the fund would be self-sustaining. “We’d hope through the education, mentoring and funds we loan them, we could skill them up to the point where when they’re ready, they can go and raise money for their Series A round,” says Liddle. Liddle outlined other initiatives that ENYA believes would boost start-ups, job creation and tax revenue, including changes to unemployment welfare so start-up operators could access the payments, and government-guaranteed bank loans for start-ups. “If the government guaranteed bank loans for start-ups, we’d see thousands of new businesses launching,” says Liddle. He says the ideas received a positive response from their audience, which including Liberal deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop and representatives from the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. “The next step is continuing to work closely with [Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer] Bernie Ripoll’s office as he’s been championing our ideas and he’s going to help see what is available by funding requests,” says Liddle. Liddle will lead a team of 22 young entrepreneurs to Russia next week, as part of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Australia. “We’re off to Russia next week but then we have a 12-month runway to the next G20 summit in Australia, so we’ll be campaigning nationally for these ideas,” says Liddle.
More signs are appearing that social network Twitter will open an office in Australia, with deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop confirming the move after a visit to the company's headquarters.