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Costa Group CEO to retire

Robert Guy

Costa Group chief Harry Debney has signalled he will retire from the fruit and vegetable supplier in the next nine months.

Chairman Neil Chatfield told shareholders at the annul general meeting that the baord has entered discussions with Mr Debney about his retirement and will start a recruitment process that considers internal and external candidates.

Nine reaches new deal with NRL

William McInnes

Nine Entertainment has revised its contract with the NRL for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons, due to the shortened playing season as a result of COVID-19.

Clickbank Marketing Tools

Under the new contract, Nine said it expects a profit and loss benefit, resulting from changes in rights fee and associated production and services agreements of approximately $27.5 million in the 2021 and 2020 financial years.

American International Group

NRL is back. Getty Images

“This is an excellent long-term outcome for both Nine and the game of rugby league,” said Nine Hugh Marks.

“We are also delighted to have reached a revised agreement with the NRL for seasons 2021 and 2022, and at a level of rights costs that enables us to sustainably invest in rugby league for the future.”

The broadcaster revised its previous cost commentary for the 2020 calendar year. It had previously said it expected a cost out of $289 million, with $130 million worth of savings as a result of the cancellation of the NRL season.

The total cost out has now been reduced to $225 million.

Nine Entertainment is the publisher of The Australian Financial Review.

Westpac institutional head Lyn Cobley to retire

Robert Guy

Westpac’s head of institutional banking Lyn Cobley is set to retire, becoming the third senior executive to leave the this month.

Ms Cobley’s retirement after 30 years in banking is another blow to new Westpac chief executive Peter King, who earlier this month had retail banking head David Lindberg and chief technology Craig Bright announce they were leaving to take up positions overseas.

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Causeway Bay

Westpac’s Lyn Cobley AFR

There are a growing number of major roles that need to be filled among the big four banks, including the head of business banking and digital banking at NAB following the departures of Anthony Healy and Lee Hatton.

, group treasurer, will act as chief executive of Westpac Institutional Bank from July 1. An international search for a replacement will be undertaken.

Westpac shares last traded at $18.39. They have rallied 22.5 per cent this week.

Tower reports 1H profit of $NZ14.9m; revises guidance

Robert Guy

Tower Limited lowered its full year profit guidance to between $NZ25 million and $NZ28 million after unveiling a half year profit of $NZ14.3 million.

The New Zealand-based insurer half year profit increased $NZ3 million compared to the same time last year, but additional costs related to the Timaru hailstorm, Tropical Cycle Harold, subdued growth and lower expenses has seen guidance revised lower from the $NZ27 million to $NZ30 million offered in February.

Gross written premium increased to $NZ183.6 million from $169.7 million at the same time last year.

The claims expense ratio increased to 46.4 per cent from 44.5 per cent.

No first half dividend will be paid. Any second half dividend will be take into consideration economic conditions at the time.

In we trust: Larry Fink’s key role in US rescue package

Annie Massa, Caleb Melby

When the US Federal Reserve needed Wall Street’s help with its pandemic rescue mission, it went straight to Larry Fink. The BlackRock co-founder, chairman, and chief executive has become one of the industry’s most important government whisperers.

In contrast to other influential financiers who’ve built on ties to President Donald Trump, Fink possesses a power that’s more technocratic. BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, can do the things governments need right now.

The company’s new assignment is a much bigger version of one it took on after the 2008 financial crisis, when the Fed enlisted it to dispose of toxic mortgage securities from Bear Stearns and . This time it will help the Fed prop up the entire corporate bond market by purchasing, on the central bank’s behalf, what could become a $US750 billion ($1.1 trillion) portfolio of debt.

chief technology

BlackRock was handed three Federal Reserve assignments without any competitive process. David Rowe

One part of the Fed’s plan is to buy bond exchange-traded funds. BlackRock itself runs ETFs under the iShares brand and could end up buying funds it manages. There are rules in place to avoid conflicts of interest – for example, it won’t charge the Fed management fees on ETF shares.

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Read the full story here.

Trump says he’d shut down Twitter if he could

Justin Sink, Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Washington | President Donald Trump signed an executive order that he said would limit liability protections social-media companies enjoy after Twitter began selective fact checks of his posts on the platform.

Under current law, companies like Twitter and Facebook are protected for users’ posts. The companies “will not be able to keep their liability shield” under the order, Trump told reporters at the .

A White House said the President signed the order after reporters were escorted out of the Oval Office. The text of the order wasn’t immediately released.

Craig Bright

Twitter shares are under pressure as US President Donald Trump targets social media companies.  AP

Trump’s move comes after Twitter earlier this week labelled two of his posts about mail-in voting “potentially misleading” and provided links to news coverage of his comments. The President responded with outrage, accusing the social media company of censorship and election interference and threatening to possibly shut down the service.

“I’m signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people,” Trump said. “Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform, which they’re not.”

Read the full story here.

Why China is going so hard on Hong Kong

Michael Smith

Shanghai | The disturbing scenes of Hong Kong riot police rounding up 12-year-old school kids this week shows the lengths the authorities are willing to go to stamp out a second wave of political upheaval.

Determined to prevent a repeat of last year’s protests, there was a blanket police presence around key government buildings, some shopping malls and parts of the city’s financial districts usually targeted by demonstrators.

Curt Zuber

Pro-democracy supporters scuffle with riot police during a rally in district on Wednesday. Hong Kong is becoming as authoritarian as the mainland. Getty

Police moved in fast, rounding up people regardless of their age before they could gather in any significant numbers. showed young teenagers in school uniform being lined up against a wall and sometimes handcuffed before being taken away.

The city’s Legislative Council building, where lawmakers were debating a controversial bill to make it illegal to disrespect the Chinese national flag, was surrounded by police and barriers. There was no chance of a repeat of last year’s scenes where protesters broke into the building and vandalised the main chamber.

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Life in Hong Kong is increasingly becoming like mainland China, where there is a heavy police presence, ID checks are common and even the mere whiff of a protest is stamped out with brutal force. Police used pepper spray pellets and arrested more than 360 people on Wednesday.

Read Michael Smith full analysis here.

China to be ‘held accountable’ for Hong Kong move

Josh Wingrove

China has made a “huge mistake” in passing a new national security law curbing freedoms in Hong Kong and will be held accountable by the US, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said.

“Essentially they have robbed Hong Kong of their freedom,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said in a CNBC interview on Thursday.

economic adviser

Larry Kudlow, director of the US National Economic Council, says China will be “held accountable”. Bloomberg

“We can’t let this go unnoticed and they will be held accountable for that. If need be, Hong Kong may now have to be treated the same way China is treated.”

“China has made a huge mistake,” he added.

Trump told reporters later that he’ll hold a news conference on Friday to discuss China.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Wednesday that Hong Kong has effectively lost its autonomy and no longer warrants special treatment under US law.

Read the full story here.

ASX to fall, Dow drops late

Timothy Moore

Australian shares are set to open lower, dented by a late drop in the Dow Jones after President Donald Trump said he’ll host a news conference tomorrow concerning China.

ASX futures were down 24 points or 0.4% to 5832 near 6.10am AEST. The local currency edged up 0.5%.

Shares on Wall Street closed lower. The Dow was down 148 points at the closing bell, swinging near 300 points in the final hour. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ended down. The S&P 500 however did hold above 3000.

Market highlights

ASX futures down 24 points or 0.4% to 5832 near 6.10am AEST

  • AUD +0.5% to 66.57 US cents
  • On Wall St near 4pm: Dow -0.6% S&P 500 -0.2% Nasdaq -0.5%
  • In Europe: Stoxx 50 +1.4% FTSE +1.2% CAC +1.8% DAX +1.1%
  • Spot gold +0.2% to $US1713.17 an ounce at 2.18pm New York time
  • Brent crude +2.5% to $US35.60 a barrel
  • US oil +3.6% to $US34.00 a barrel
  • Iron ore +1.8% to $US97.09 a tonne
  • Dalian iron ore +1.9% to 720 yuan
  • LME aluminium -0.8% to $US1537 a tonne
  • LME copper +1.6% to $US5345.50 a tonne
  • 2-year yield: US 0.17% Australia 0.25%
  • 5-year yield: US 0.34% Australia 0.39%
  • 10-year yield: US 0.70% Australia 0.87% -0.42%
  • US prices as of 2.18pm New York

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to Markets Live for Friday.

This blog is not intended for investment advice.

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