The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lost 0.56 per cent in early trade while the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 0.38 per cent. There were losses across most sectors on the local market, led by financial stocks.
Tower Australia (ASX:TAL) said today that its inforce premium exceeded the A$1 billion mark for the first time during the June 2010 quarter, up 40.5 per cent from a year earlier. Inforce premiums are initial premiums on all insurance policies that have not been cancelled or expired. New business premiums more than doubled to A$127.3 million from A$58.1 million. Individual new business growth was flat year on year. But the new business growth of 207 per cent in Group Risk mainly reflected the inclusion of new income protection benefits to 700,000 AustralianSuper members, increasing premiums by A$80 million a year, Tower said.
Centro Properties Group (ASX:CNP) said it has completed a number of financing achievements across its US business and continues to progress its assessment of restructure options. Centro has completed financing arrangements for about US$2.7 billion of the US$3.2 billion of debt within Super LLC (a joint venture of CNP, Centro Retail Trust (CER) and Centro MCS 40), which was due to expire on or before December 31, 2010. The US$2.7 billion financing arrangements include an extension of about US$2.3 billion and a refinancing of over US$400 million, the company said. A number of options to address the balance of US$440m are being considered and Centro is confident these will be resolved in due course.
Goodman Group (ASX:GMG) confirms today that it has interest in becoming the manager of ING Industrial Fund (ASX:IIF), ING's Australian real estate platform, to retain it as a standalone listed vehicle. Goodman currently owns 4.4 per cent of the IIF. Goodman believes that this would be a prudent expansion of its fund management business. Detailed discussions have not taken place, and there is no certainty that any transaction will proceed, Goodman said.
Subscription television services Austar United Communications Ltd (ASX:AUN) said its net profit fell 42 per cent to A$20.69 million in the six months ended June 30 from A$$35.5 million for the first half of last year. Revenue was up 6.3 per cent to A$351.86 million. Chief executive Mr John Porter said the company is seeing positive signs that momentum has returned, and its product is better than ever with the launch of download and streaming product, Austar AnyWhere, in early July.
Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN) (PINK:KSKGF) has substantially increased its interim Mineral Resources and Ore Reserve estimates for 2010 at the Chatree Gold Mine in central Thailand. Interim Ore Reserves increased to 1.9 million ounces of gold in 61.7 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 1.0 gram/tonne gold as at the 30th June 2010. This represents a 41% increase in Ore Reserves. Contained within the Ore Reserve estimate is 19 million ounces of silver at a grade of 9.4 g/t silver.
Tower Australia Group Ltd
ING Industrial Fund
Centro Properties Group
Austar United Communications Limited