News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Kinghorn quits White Energy board, but Duncan stays; call to tackle deficit as business blasts budget; and Gold Fields stalks Barrick’s assets to ensure survival.

Staff Reporter

Kinghorn quits White Energy board

RAMS Home Loans founder John Kinghorn has resigned from the board of White Energy after he was found to have acted corruptly by a landmark inquiry into former NSW Labor figures, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The company has backed coal mogul Travers Duncan staying on as chairman, despite a similar finding of corrupt conduct.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption found last week that Kinghorn and four of his associates, including Duncan, corruptly concealed from the NSW government and public officials the involvement of former minister Eddie Obeid and his family in a mining tenement. The men were founding investors in Cascade Coal, which won an exploration licence over the Obeid family’s farm in 2009.

ICAC commissioner David Ipp, QC, recommended that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions consider charging Kinghorn and Duncan with the criminal offence of dishonestly or recklessly failing to discharge their duty as a director of White Energy in good faith.

Both men supported the proposed $500 million takeover of Cascade by White Energy in 2011, but the deal was abandoned when the Australian Securities Exchange started asking questions about a mystery payment by Cascade that ultimately went to the Obeids.

Call to tackle deficit as business blasts budget

Australia’s failure to prepare for the end of the mining boom is damaging the nation, business leaders warned as they expressed “zero” confidence the election campaign would deal with the structural budget deficit, according to The Australian.

Undermining Kevin Rudd's pitch to voters that Labor was best-placed to manage an economy in transition, business warned that the handling of the budget would do little to help the nation cope with the present challenges and that the “tinkering” in last week's economic statement was adding to uncertainty.

Gold Fields stalks Barrick’s assets to ensure survival

Norton Gold Fields, controlled by China’s Zijin Mining, has been touted by many as the likely candidate to buy the West Australian gold mines that Canadian giant Barrick Gold has put on the market, according to the Australian Financial Review.

But those in the know are suggesting South Africa’s Gold Fields should not be ruled out of the process being handled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS.

In February, Gold Fields spun out all but one of its ageing South African mines into a new vehicle, Sibanye Gold, which was floated on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Other than the retained South African asset, South Deep, the move left the company with assets in Ghana, Peru and Western Australia.

One of its two WA mines, Agnew, is basically an extension of the same orebody that is mined at Barrick’s Lawlers operation, one of those up for sale.

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