The local share market is expected to book heavy losses today after international markets fell sharply overnight. The S&P 500 fell 1.4% in New York while the Stoxx Europe 600 shed 1.6% at the end of trading in London. The ASX200 dropped 2% in the early trade to challenge the 5000 point support level. Energy and Materials are posting heavy losses amid a global commodities rout that has sent valuations lower.
In equities news ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC) and Programmed Maintenance Services (ASX:PRG) released announcements to the ASX.
ANZ Reaffirms Intention to Fully Frank Dividends
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) responded to media speculation in the AFR which commented on ANZ’s methods to pay franking credits in 2015. Chief Financial Officer Shayne Elliott stated that ANZ’s position regarding fully franked dividends has not changed that they “expect to fully frank dividends for the foreseeable future.”
The AFR article claimed that ANZ pre-payed tax in order to maintain its fully franked 2015 dividend, which ANZ stated was “untrue”.
ANZ fell more than 2% at the opening on Friday to be last traded around the ~$26 mark.
Nine Responds to Merger Speculation with Southern Cross media
Owner of channel 9, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC) also commented on media speculation regarding merger discussions with Southern Cross Media (ASX:SXL). Whilst Nine confirmed that there have been talks about business partnerships and transactions over the past few years, no agreement has been reached regarding a merger between the two media companies.
Southern Cross Media (ASX:SXL) reacted immediately too, stating that no merger proposal was made or received. However Chairman Peter Bush stated during the AGM that “management and the Company’s advisers have been reviewing the Company’s strategic options.”
Whilst talks have not progressed to a stage that would allow to make any assumptions, it certainly appears logical that both companies are reviewing their options in light of challenging trading conditions. With competition such as Netflix emerging, traditional media companies have struggled to increase market share and many players have suffered declines in revenue and profits.
Programmed Decides to Write-Off $28m of Goodwill
Programmed Maintenance Services (ASX:PRG), which recently acquired Skilled Group, has decided to book a non cash impairment charge of approximately $28m for the first half of 2016. The write-off affects its resource segment, particularly its goodwill component for its marine services. The $28m impairment will affect the Company’s FY16 results, however has no material impact on cash flow or benefits arising from the Skilled acquisition.
Programmed confirmed that the write-off is a result of “current oil and gas market conditions and interest rates”. PRG shares fell ~1% in early trade.