Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief


A quick check around the grounds to see what some of the players are doing and talking about in agribusiness


European trade dealings

A scoping assessment for a Britain-Australia Free Trade Agreement is expected to be released this month in the lead up to "virtual" talks, which have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time Australia and the EU recently completed the seventh round of talks on that planned free trade deal.

Negotiators have held more than 50 video conferences on issues including goods, rules of origin, customs, state-owned enterprises, government procurement, digital trade, intellectual property, services and investment and sustainable development.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss have voiced optimism about a "gold-standard" free trade deal between Australia and the UK


United Malt share offer

GrainCorp's newly listed offshoot United Malt Group has invited shareholders to apply for up to $30,000 in extra stock without incurring brokerage or other transaction costs as part of a $25 million capital raising offer.

It follows United Malt's $140m institutional investor offer last month which was snapped up at $3.80 a share.

The retail purchase plan will be priced at either $3.80/share or a two per cent discount to the volume weighted average price of UMG shares traded on the Australian Securities Exchange prior to June 18 - which ever is cheapest.

The offer closes on June 18.


ACCC uneasy with Qantas

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has sounded concerns about Qantas buying a 20 per cent stake in Queensland-based Alliance Airlines a year ago.

Alliance is Qantas' only competitor on regular passenger routes between Brisbane and Bundaberg and Gladstone.

It also operates charter flights to Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, mainly for resources companies and their fly-in-fly-out workforces, competing strongly with Qantas for the business.

Qantas did not seek informal merger clearance from the ACCC before it acquired the stake in Alliance to become its biggest single shareholder.

Chairman Rod Sims said there was now potential for the two businesses to compete less vigorously, or influence each others' strategies or outcomes.

Qantas' stake may also impact Alliance's ability to grow by raising more funds from investors, or to consider rival takeover approaches.

The ACCC may decide to institute proceedings in the Federal Court after completing further investigations into the deal.


Super boozers 

Supermarkets have captured the largest share of the packaged alcohol market, but wine clubs are attracting the big spenders, according to data from research group Roy Morgan.

Supermarket alcohol outlets hold 40.5 per cent of the total packaged alcohol market, having grown their share 3.1pc in the past year.

However average wine club customers spend nearly $160 each on packaged alcohol in an average week.

That's twice the average spend of a duty free customer and at least three times the amount spent by liquor shoppers in supermarkets, hotel bottle shops or independent retailers.

In an average four-week period about 5.3 million Australians buy packaged alcohol from a supermarket retailers such as BWS, LiquorLand, Aldi or IGA, while supermarket-owned retailers such as Dan Murphy's, First Choice and Vintage Cellars get sales from 4.1m customers.

Wine Clubs have just 5.1pc of the market or 400,000 customers.


Namoi funding talks

After giving the Louis Dreyfus Company greater control over its joint venture marketing business last month, Namoi Cotton has been discussing with the multinational how best to fund the Namoi Cotton Alliance partnership.

Louis Dreyfus has agreed in principle to extend a $US7.5m financial facility to assist with NCA's funding.

NCA has already extended its existing banking facilities with Australia New Zealand Banking Group to cover a margin facility of about $US8m due on June 12, of which up to $US7m will be funded from ANZ's inventory facility and the remainder from Louis Dreyfus.

Meanwhile, James Jackson has left the ginning and marketing company's board after two years.

Mr Jackson is executive chairman of Australian Rural Capital which owns about 10pc of Namoi Cotton.

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The story Agribusiness buzz in brief first appeared on Farm Online.


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