Westpac (ASX:WBC) CEO resigns: Aus shares 0.9% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Ortenzia Borre

The Australian share market rose at the open tracking 0.9 per cent higher at noon. Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) was the best performer after the company confirmed its takeover offer from Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ACT) and Westpac (ASX:WBC) added to the gains as the leadership reshuffle saw a renewed confidence in the bank. Shares in Bank of Queensland plummeted after the company announced the close of a $250 million share placement at a discount to its previous close.

The best-performing sector is Energy while the worst performing sector is Communication Services.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 58 points up at 6,790. On the futures market the SPI is eyeing a 50 point lift.

Economic News

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe will give a speech at the Australian Business Economists annual dinner.

Broker moves

Following the bank's recent announcement of it’s $250 million institutional share placement completion at a discount , Citi has rated Bank Of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) as a sell. The use of the proceeds will be revealed in February. Further weakness for FY20 has now been confirmed but Citi suspects investors are unimpressed with the resultant return from FY21 onwards. Shares in Bank Of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) are 5.8 per cent lower at noon at $8.14.

Company news

Westpac (ASX:WBC) CEO Brian Hartzer will be stepping down at the end of this week and longstanding chairman Lindsay Maxsted will bring forward his retirement to early next year as the bank goes into damage control in the wake of the AUSTRAC scandal. In a statement to the ASX this morning Mr. Maxsted said “The Board accepts the gravity of the issues raised by AUSTRAC, and as was appropriate, sought feedback from all stakeholders including shareholders and having done so it became clear that Board and management changes were in the best interest of the Bank. Current Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Peter King will take over as acting CEO until a global search process for a new CEO is completed. Since news of the resignation broke, shares in Westpac have risen in a hopeful restored faith in the bank. Shares in Westpac (ASX:WBC) are 1.8 per cent higher at $24.87.

Caltex (ASX:CTX) has received an unsolicited, conditional, confidential, non-binding and indicative proposal from Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc (ACT) to acquire all shares in the company. Caltex says the proposal is subject to a number of conditions, obtaining Foreign Investment Review Board approval, a unanimous recommendation by the Caltex Board and the approval of the ACT Board. The company says the Caltex Board is currently considering the proposal, including obtaining advice from its financial and legal advisers and discussions between Caltex and ACT are at a preliminary stage, the proposal is highly conditional and there is no certainty that the discussions will result in a transaction. Shares in Caltex (ASX:CTX) are trading 12.2 per cent higher $33.44.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Energy, adding 2.2 per cent, while the sector with the fewest gains is Communication Services, adding 0.3 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) rising 12.2 per cent to $33.44, followed by shares in IPH Limited (ASX:IPH) and Bravura Solutions Limited (ASX:BVS).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Bank of Queensland Limited (ASX:BOQ), dropping 5.8 per cent to $8.14, followed by shares in Technology One Limited (ASX:TNE) and WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,454 an ounce.
Iron ore price is 3.2 per cent higher to US$90.92.
Iron ore futures are flat
One Australian dollar is buying 67.77 US cents.

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