News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Griffin bondholders sweat over $150 million invalid payment; EnergyAustralia writes down coal-gas project; and Australia hopes China has a soft landing.

Lou Caruana

Griffin bondholders sweat on $150M

The saga engulfing Griffin Coal has taken a fresh twist, with bondholders and receivers sweating over a looming court decision that could render invalid the last payment of $150 million due on the sale of the business four years ago to India's Lanco, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Griffin has been embroiled in dramas since Indian infrastructure giant Lanco Infratech bought it for about $740 million in late 2010 from former BRW Rich-Lister Ric Stowe's fallen empire.

The then-receivers, KordaMentha, and bondholders in the company could find themselves $150 million short on the $740 million sale if a New South Wales Supreme Court appeal bench upholds a ruling against them today. Clearwater Capital Partners is believed to be one of the biggest bondholders.

EnergyAustralia writes down coal-gas project

Hot on the heels of Santos' decision to slash the value of its coal seam gas project in Narrabri in northwest NSW, its partner in the project, EnergyAustralia, has followed suit, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The China-controlled EnergyAustralia said it had written $HK1.6 billion off its investment in the project. EnergyAustralia holds a 20% share of the venture, with Santos holding the balance.

Earlier this month Santos wrote down its investment in the venture by $700 million to $500 million, and is believed to be seeking a partner to acquire half its share of the venture.

Australia hoping China has soft landing

China's economy looks headed for a soft landing. At least that's what BHP Billiton and Reserve Bank of Australia chief, Glenn Stevens, are signalling 5600 kilometres away, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Being the most China-dependent developed economy globally, Australia is highly attuned to the ebbs and flows in the world's biggest trading nation.

While China's growth has slowed, the best estimate of Aussie exporters and policy makers is that housing demand from the migration of rural Chinese to cities will help avert an abrupt further slump in expansion.

Mining giant BHP forecasts a moderate recovery in Chinese demand for steel in 2015. The RBA chief says that growth in the Chinese economy is impressive.

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