Archive for: ‘July 2019’

Nic Maddinson on verge of Sheffield Shield cricket return for NSW Blues

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Shield return: Nic Maddinson is set to play for the Blues in Saturday’s clash with Tasmania. Photo: Adam McLean Nic Maddinson has been welcomed back into the Blues’ squad and is in line for a return to Sheffield Shield cricket this weekend when NSW plays Tasmania in Wollongong.
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Cricket NSW flew Maddinson back to Sydney on Thursday before the conclusion of the Blues’ Futures League game against Western in Perth, which ended early on the final day when the visitors were bowled out for 250 to conclude a heavy defeat.

The 25-year-old made scores of 38 and 18 in the match after meeting with Blues coach Trent Johnston last week to discuss his return to cricket, his first-innings effort coming from 41 balls as wickets crumbled around him.

It was the first cricket he’d played since the Sydney Sixers lost the Big Bash final to Perth last month, after which Maddinson opted to take time away from the sport for “personal reasons”.

He’ll be joined in the Blues squad by captain Moises Henriques, who returns to state duty after representing in the three-match T20 international series defeat to Sri Lanka.

A win over Tasmania will further cement the Blues in the top two of the Sheffield Shield, and quick bowler Trent Copeland said Maddinson’s return was a huge boost.

“It’s great to have him back and from all reports he played beautifully over in Perth in that first innings amongst some carnage, it’s going to put some pressure on our batting group in terms of who might miss out,” Copeland said.

“Any changes to our team are going to be positive with pressure from a guy who’s played Test cricket less than a couple of months ago.”

Maddinson played three Tests for this summer before he was dropped after managing just 27 runs. He then struggled in the Big Bash with the Sixers before his self-imposed ban from the sport.

Copeland played three Tests himself on a tour of Sri Lanka before returning to and receiving the dreaded phone call telling him he was out of the team.

“It’s a tough time no matter what the scenario is, no matter who’s contacted you or who hasn’t,” Copeland said.

“The pressures that go with being an n player, it’s our No.1 sport, it’s our livelihood during summer, everyone is thinking and talking and playing cricket.

“The difference for everyone is the scenario you came back to. I came back to state cricket playing one day and four-day cricket, Maddo [Maddinson] came back into playing T20 cricket which is sometimes a very fickle game.

“You can try and hit sixes in the first couple of overs and miss out a couple of times and its starts to get even bigger on you.

“It’s hard on Maddo and it’s hard on everyone but we’re all there for him. Maddo’s a great young fella, he’s got a lot of cricket in front of him and I’m sure he’s going to play more cricket for .

“Hopefully for the rest of this summer he dominates for us and we can get to that shield final.”

Johnston was also delighted to welcome Maddinson back into the team.

“I spoke to him in the middle of last week and he was in a pretty good place,” the coach said.

“The mail from [Cricket NSW state talent manager] David Freedman was he was very good around the [Futures League] group. He played very well in both his innings, even though he got starts and didn’t go on with it.

“A player of that quality, he’ll come back into the 12 and then it’ll just depend on how we set the team up whether we stick with the six batters or bring the extra batter in and go in a quick light.

“Happy for Maddo to be back in the right frame of mind to be playing first-class cricket again. He’s an outstanding talent and we’ve seen that time and time again over the last seven or eight years.”

China v India Test series 2017: Matt Renshaw forced off field while batting due to upset stomach

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Live coverage – day one, first Test
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Spin duo Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe face the toughest challenge of their careers to bowl their side back into the game after ‘s struggles with the bat in India continued in the first Test on Thursday.

Opener Matt Renshaw overcame an upset stomach to lead the way with an impressive 68 on debut on the subcontinent but it was slim pickings for the rest of the line-up until Mitchell Starc crunched a whirlwind half-century nearing stumps.

While there was an air of the same old, same old with the day one performance, this was not the embarrassing and shambolic display that has been associated with ‘s recent visits to this region of the world.

The crusty Pune wicket has already produced “craters”, drawing spin great Shane Warne to liken the pitch to Mars, and offered prodigious turn to the Indian spinners.

It would be only fair to afford a degree of leniency to ‘s batsmen but after reaching stumps on 9/256 they will need to do everything right from here if they are to snap their nine-Test losing streak in Asia.

They will want more given India’s recent domination with the bat at home but they encountered much friendlier wickets when they were amassing scores well in excess of 500.

Despite the spin-friendly conditions, it was the pace of Umesh Yadav that inflicted the most damage. Yadav claimed the important wicket of Warner among his bag of four then ripped through the tail.

This will be encouraging for , who believe the pace duo of Starc and Hazlewood have influential roles to play this tour.

The pressure, however, will be firmly on the spinning fingers of Lyon and O’Keefe, who will be expected to make a sizeable impact on the second day. At the very least, Lyon and O’Keefe will be expected to keep the scoring down.

Ravi Ashwin provided their blueprint. The offie has mesmerised in the past and though he was not unplayable he still managed to remove Smith and the resolute Renshaw. Combined with a frugal economy rate of less than two an over, it was another fruitful day in the dust bowl for the world’s No.1 bowler.

had good reason to believe a much better scoreline was attainable after Renshaw and Warner survived the best part of the first session for a stand of 82.

Warner’s dismissal changed the feel of the game, bringing two new batsmen to the crease. Not only was he gone, he was followed immediately off the field by Renshaw, who needed to use the toilet.

Renshaw came under fire from Allan Border, who believed the opener should have held on for the final 15 minutes to lunch.

“I hope he is lying on the table in there half dead. Otherwise as captain I would not be happy,” Border said on Fox Sports.

But in fairness to Renshaw, his options were limited. Had he given up his wicket due to a loss of focus because of his condition would have been a waste, while relieving his stomach cramp on the field would have been far from ideal too.

The drama overshadowed Renshaw’s valuable contribution at the top of the order. Despite doubts as to whether he had the game to prosper in India, Renshaw showed poise in the testing conditions.

So too did the rest of ‘s top five – but not for long enough. They were far from clueless though Smith and Warner will be kicking themselves for their careless dismissals.

There will be concerns over the selection of Mitch Marsh at six after he was trapped in front for four though he will have the chance to atone with the ball.

Nine reveals massive write-down in value of its television network, leading to $237m loss

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Nine chairman Peter Costello with chief executive Hugh Marks. Photo: Ben Rushton Nine Entertainment Company’s chief executive Hugh Marks says ratings are improving. Photo: Janie Barrett
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Nine Entertainment Company has reported a $237 million loss for the six months to December after reducing goodwill of Nine Network from $422 million to $162 million.

The write-down will close the gap between Nine’s book value of its free-to-air network and its actual market value of $902 million.

Nine’s shares jumped after management said full-year pre-tax earnings will meet analyst forecasts of between $158 million to $187 million. The stock closed 7.3 per cent higher at $1.04.

The company did not change the value of its free-to-air broadcasting licences, which it still carries at $478 million in its books.

Operating earnings were down 6 per cent at $120 million, compared to the same period in 2015. Earnings from free-to-air television dropped 9 per cent to $109 million, while digital profits rose 13 per cent to $13.8 million.

Despite lower revenues and earnings, Nine still reported a $75 million underlying profit profit after reducing its costs, a 4 per cent decline on the same period last year.

Nine Entertainment will pay a dividend of 4.5¢ per share fully franked, down from 8¢ a year earlier.

“Over the past year, we have made significant progress in rebuilding our free-to-air business. Nine Network won all prime-time key demographics post the Olympics in 2016,” chief executive Hugh Marks told the market.

He is confident it will have better ratings this year, which will attract more advertising dollars. 

Asked about persisting speculation that Nine may consider merging with Fairfax Media (owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald), Mr Marks said “there is nothing concrete that we are looking at at the moment”.

“I am interested in quality content that I can make a business out of quality platforms,” he later explained, adding print products are not a strategic asset for Nine.

Meanwhile the two companies’ joint venture – streaming service Stan – added 135,000 accounts, and now has more than 700,000 active subscribers.

The outlook is for a 2 per cent to 3 per cent decline in metropolitan advertising revenue. Nine expects to meet analyst full-year guidance of pre-tax earnings between $158 million and $187 million.  Writing down goodwill

The goodwill impairment on its TV network comes after Nine reviewed the value of assets carried in its books and found “the market capitalisation of the group was below the book value of its equity and the decline in free-to-air television market activity arising in the period”. 

“Impairment testing on Nine Network determined that an impairment loss in Nine Network’s goodwill of $260 million was required and this has been recognised in the period. The recent decline in market activity and resulting fall in EBITDA has led to this impairment,” the financial report states.

The move comes a day after the n Securities and Investments Commission revealed it had a hand in Seven West Media reducing the carrying value of its Yahoo7 joint venture by $75.5 million. ASIC has been cracking down on over-inflated valuations.

Chief financial officer Greg Barnes, who joined Nine in July, said the impairment “was the right thing to do” because of the share price.

“Write it down and move on,” he said.

Asked if Nine received any input from ASIC, he said, “It would be fair to say that when your market cap, your share price, sits below the book value of your assets per share – which Nine’s has done really for the majority of time since it reported its last year’s results – that it would get the attention of regulators”.

Director of Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen, said the write-down may have been necessary because “Nine wrote assets up during its [2013] float, which raised eyebrows”.

Television networks do not have the same value they had five years ago, Mr Allen added. However, he believes advertising dollars are returning to free to air.

“We just feel that advertisers’ mood has changed towards TV, particularly with revelations that have come out about social media metrics.”

Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson said this year television ads are being booked earlier in advance.

“We are seeing that in two areas – existing advertisers who are allocating a greater percentage of their total marketing budget back into television … [and] there are new brands coming to television.”

Investors dump Ardent shares as Dreamworld tragedy drags it to a $49m loss

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Ardent chief executive Deborah Thomas said Dreamworld “is expected to recover over the course of time”. Photo: Glenn HuntArdent chief executive Deborah Thomas says she is “not going anywhere” and will work to restore the theme park operator to its former glory after the company sank to a $49.4 million loss for the December half following the fatal accident at its Dreamworld theme park in October.
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The stock plunged as much as 25 per cent before closing 21.8 per cent lower at $1.69 on Thursday, with $220 million wiped off the company’s sharemarket value.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at Ardent’s theme park division plunged 72 per cent to $5.9 million as revenues fell 28 per cent to $41.8 million in the six months to December 31, the company said in a statement to the ASX.

Ardent’s overall net profit was erased by a $95.2 million property, plant and equipment write-down, goodwill impairment and incident costs associated with the Dreamworld tragedy. Ardent slashed the value of the Gold Coast park in its books to $147 million after the incident on its Thunder River Rapids Ride, which cost the lives of four people and led the company to close the park for 45 days.

The board declared a distribution per security for the period of 2¢, compared with 7¢ for the previous corresponding period.

Speaking after the results were released, Ms Thomas said that as Dreamworld recovered, its value and profits would again improve. With some 1000 people working at Dreamworld she said she was “determined” to get the business back up and running.

“We have drawn a line in the sand and we now need to get everything right,” she said.

“We are all pulling together to get the best outcome for shareholders and our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims.”

Ms Thomas said “the effects of this tragedy will be felt for some time and there is much healing still to take place. Our priority in reopening the park was to do so in a way that was respectful to the families of the victims.”

“Dreamworld is expected to recover over the course of time, assisted by new attractions and exciting branded retail concepts, supported by promotion to domestic and international visitors,” she said.

“The theme park businesses are also expected to benefit from increased domestic and international tourism to the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the development of land adjoining the property in Coomera.”

Ms Thomas dismissed speculation the land on which the theme park was built could be sold off for residential developments. There were no plans to close the park or redevelop it into residential buildings, she said.

“At the moment the zoning is parks and entertainment. Obviously, different zoning such as residential and commercial could increase that value quite significantly, but at the moment, the highest and best use is certainly as a theme park,” she said.

It has been estimated Ardent generates up to $300,000 a day from its Gold Coast tourist assets, which include WhiteWater World and SkyPoint. There is also a new LEGO store at Dreamworld, which is trading well.

At the time of the closure, brokers said the impact of the event on Ardent’s near-term outlook was still uncertain, as were the longer-term implications.

During the period, the group sold the d’Albora Marinas business for $126 million. That represents an 11 per cent premium over current book value of $113.5 million.

The purchaser is a special purpose vehicle jointly owned by Sydney-based Balmain Corporation and Goldman Sachs.

But aside from the troubled theme park business, Ardent said its Main Event business was strong.

Over the next few months, Ardent will change its name to Main Event, which was approved by shareholders at last year’s annual general meeting.

Ms Thomas said the group would focus on the Main Event business, which operates as King Pin bowling, with upgraded food and beverage services, better shoes and improved premises.

James Packer will pocket $489m of Crown casino cash and take his stake back above 50%

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

The Chinese high rollers might be deserting his casinos, but the cash will still be rolling in for billionaire James Packer.
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Crown Resorts has announced it will pay a bonus dividend, as well as increasing its regular payout to investors, which is expected to deliver $489 million in cash to Packer, who is its largest shareholder.

For the first half, Crown announced that it will raise its interim dividend to 30¢ per share and pay a special 83¢ dividend. The bonus cash comes from the selldown of Crown’s stake in its troubled Macau venture, Melco Crown, and a retreat from its global ambitions to focus on the n market.

The extra bonus for Packer is that these dividends will be 60 per cent franked, which reduce his tax bill. Crown has said it also expects to pay a 30¢ per share dividend after its full-year result in August.

Packer’s cash bonus is not the only gain he will make from Crown’s generosity. The casino operator announced plans to buy back around $500 million worth of shares as another capital management exercise. It estimates it could buy back around 44 million shares, or six per cent of its issued capital.

For those with short memories, Packer sold down his controlling stake in August last year. It generated a $448 million cash bonus for the billionaire, but reduced his holding below 50 per cent.

A buyback of this scale would take Packer’s stake, held via his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), to just over 50 per cent – assuming he doesn’t sell any of his Crown shares into the buyback.

There were few surprises in the Crown result after it announced that its high rollers business had tanked by an astonishing 45 per cent for the half year following the arrest of employees in China. The arrests happened in October, which means that the high roller exodus only occurred over the last three months of the year.

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