News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Hedge fund seizes control of Australian iron ore exporter Cliffs; miners join call to make Australia competitive; and Lakes Oil cries double standards as Origin approved.

Lou Caruana

Hedge fund seizes control of Australian iron ore exporter Cliffs

The fifth biggest iron ore business in Australia is in limbo after an apparent boardroom coup saw a hedge fund take control of American company Cliffs Natural Resources on Wednesday morning, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Cliffs has been struggling to remain profitable in recent times as prices for its two main products, iron ore and coal, have slumped, and the austere times have prompted some shareholders to campaign for a change of control and a break-up of the assets.

Activist hedge fund Casablanca Capital has led that campaign, and claimed overnight that it had taken control of the Cliffs board at a meeting of the miners’ shareholders overnight.

Miners join call to make Australia competitive

Miners say Australia should remove impediments to resources developments to compete with international rivals such as Indonesia, according to The Australian.

Minerals Council of Australia CEO Brendan Pearson said the carbon tax, renewable energy target, and “regulatory creep” had hindered development approvals and made nascent projects more expensive.

Pearson said traditionally held advantages – such as low-cost energy and speedy project approvals – had been lost.

“In the last five years, electricity prices for business have increased by almost 80%,” Pearson said.

Lakes Oil cries double standards as Origin approved

An Origin Energy plan to access $800 million of Bass Strait gas from onshore Victoria has drawn accusations of double standards from the Gina Rinehart-backed Lakes Oil, which has been banned from drilling nearby, according to The Australian.

In plans kept largely under wraps by Origin, onshore drilling will start near the coastal Victorian town of Warrnambool next month.