GPT Group has warned of tough conditions ahead for office and retail tenants but has maintained its earnings growth guidance of at least 5 per cent for the year to December 31.
Nanjing Night Net

The country’s second-biggest diversified real estate investment trust reported a net profit of $257 million for the six months to June 30, down 6.7 per cent on the previous corresponding period, mainly due to a lower valuation of some assets.

To combat predicted weaker office rents and negative retail leasing spreads, GPT and its co-owner are spending $15 million on stage one of the repositioning of the MLC Centre in Sydney. GPT has also introduced new tenants to its Melbourne Central mall and spent $300 million on extending the Highpoint mall in Melbourne.

Leasing spreads were a negative 5.8 per cent for GPT over the first half. The company said while the fall in interest rates was helping, consumers remained cautious and reluctant to buy with any gusto.

The fall in the value of the Australian dollar would also help by making overseas goods on the internet more expensive.

During the first half, GPT completed $690 million of transactions, exiting Erina Fair and the Homemaker bulky goods portfolio. It also bought 3 Figtree Drive, at Sydney Olympic Park, and the GPT Wholesale Office Fund (GWOF) acquired half of 8 Exhibition Street in Melbourne.

Despite the fall in statutory profit, realised operating income of $236.5 million was up 4.1 per cent on last year. GPT chief executive Michael Cameron, said the interim distribution was 10.1¢ per security up from 9.5¢ last year. For the 2014 year, he maintained the earnings per security (EPS) growth of CPI +1 per cent guidance.

Mr Cameron said despite walking away from buying parts of Australand in March, the group had a $2.5 billion cash pot for new acquisitions and ”looked at all opportunities”, including corporate takeover. He did not directly refer to the rival Commonwealth Property Office Fund.

He said while the office and retail business was tough, the logistics and business parks and fund management sectors delivered a total return of about 9 per cent.

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Gwyn Olsen of Briar ridge Vineyard judging at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop Gwyn Olsen tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop
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Jim Chatto discussing shiraz with trainee wine judges at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Nicole Gow tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Russel Cody tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Judge Nicole Gow tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Nicole Gow tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Russel Cody tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Tom Carson tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

IT seems like a dream job – you don a white laboratory coat, tuck a clipboard under you arm and proceed to taste some of the Hunter Valley’s best wines.

But yesterday at Singleton Army Infantry Centre 18 wine judges had to taste about 120 wines and during this week they will sniff, sip, spit and occasionally swallow 730 wines from 78 large and small wine producers in the 2013 Hunter Valley Wine Show.

And at the end of each day of scoring a hundred or so wines what do they do? In most cases they gather to chill out, not with wine, but with a refreshing ale or two.

The 18-member judging panel under the chairmanship of McWilliam’s chief winemaker Jim Chatto includes an overseas wine expert, Tokyo-based Master of Wine and wine writer Nick Goodwin.

The show is widely recognised as Australia’ premier regional wine competition and is open only to Hunter wines.

Entries this year are down slightly compared with the 2012 show, which attracted 799 wines from 84 producers.

Wine Show Committee president Tim Murray said the fewer entrants and entries were the result of winery mergers and a poor 2012 Hunter red vintage.

There were only five or six entries in 2012 vintage red classes, but the 2013 semillon white classes were shaping as among the best on record.

Show results will be released and trophies presented at the wine show luncheon at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley at Pokolbin on Friday.

Exhibitors will get the opportunity to taste entries at the School of Infantry on Thursday.

The 2012 show was dominated by the Tyrrell’s family wine company with 13 gold medals and six trophies, including the Bill Ryan Trophy for the most successful exhibitor of young wines and the inaugural Iain Riggs white and red wines of provenance awards.

The Riggs awards require entrants to submit three different vintages of the same labelled wine, covering a vintage spread of at least 10 years with one wine being 2009 vintage or younger.

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Is Australian bookmaking dying or is it just evolving into a foreign-owned, 21st-century structure that will have platforms around the world.
Nanjing Night Net

Tom Waterhouse has been telling us he is a fourth-generation bookmaker, who knows what the punter wants. It seems he knew what William Hill, a British bookmaking stalwart, wanted after the sale of the business that carries his name. It leaves William Hill in control of Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse, while Paddy Power, another big British firm, owns Sportsbet and IASbet.

The local industry has caught the eye of the big Europeans and if you add Unibet and Bet365, there aren’t too many Australian options, with the exception of the Eskander family’s Betstar.

TAB南京夜网.au and Tattsbet still hold the lion’s share of the market, through totes and their fixed-odds arms, but the corporates have a healthy share of the betting dollars.

Most are based in Darwin.

Before Sky Channel and TVN, in the glory days of the track, bookmakers were like celebrities.

The SP bookie’s time has gone, too, replaced to some extent by the TAB. The track bookies had their golden era but have been victims of falling on-course crowds and usurped by the corporate giants. Walk into a betting ring and it is hard to find a young man on a bookmaking stand. That’s the reality of a hard game.

There are certainly easier ways to make a living these days than being a bookmaker. On-course bookies are more of a service, as most of the betting action is done well before they put prices up about half an hour before the race.

Just offering a price is no longer good enough. There is top tote, top “fluc”, best of the best and a myriad of other options that small bookies simply can’t offer. The margins are smaller because the focus is on turnover across the whole sporting market, and a man betting only on racing is at a disadvantage.

Punters expect value and have the ability to search for it in a couple of taps or clicks. Gone are the days when 6-4 was 9-4 on the other side of the ring and punters crowded around the bookie until he wound the price in. These days, a discrepancy of $2.50 to $3.25 simply wouldn’t happen because of technology and, if it did, only a few lucky punters would profit before the markets aligned.

So, what does the future hold?

There will always be bookies on track – tradition demands that. But the time may come when they are aligned with big operators.

A new corporate, Topbetta, has entered the market via Norfolk Island, with a plan to use a fantasy football-like system. Punters compete against each other with fantasy money during a meeting and the one winning the most at the end takes the prize. You can also back your fancies. Horse racing, always the mainstay of gambling, has tipped its lid to sports betting. The younger punters are happier to take $1.50 about Manly beating Souths than they are backing a horse or a dog for bigger returns.

The next generation will be all about live betting. It is the way of the world already and once the rules are loosened in Australia, big firms like Bwin, which is the shirt sponsor for Real Madrid, and Ladbrokes will arrive on our shores.

Bwin is already betting in the run on football games from Australia. If you fancy a bet on Capalaba versus Peninsula Power in the Brisbane Premier League on Tuesday night, you can get set.

They even provide commentary but that is a different story.

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This was a result to celebrate. This was a win to hold your breath and hope it is never taken away. This was a win that denied victory to a man who had been banned previously.
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Usain Bolt won. Again. He is the fastest man in the world. Still. He is a world champion. For the sixth time. He was not to be stopped.

In these drug-muddied championships it was pleasingly poetic that a light summer rain drizzled heaviest as the men’s 100 metre field stood at the blocks.

In these drug-muddied championships it was not so much poetic, but pleasing still, that Justin Gatlin did not win. The man previously banned for a lengthy period for drugs ran to second. He was stopped by Bolt.

He is now deemed clean, but his record is not. The times are the better for him not having won. Not now. Not when the man who was once the fastest man in the world – Bolt’s Jamaican teammate Asafa Powell – tests positive to drugs on the eve of the championships.

Not when the fastest man in the world this year, American Tyson Gay, fails drug tests and also pulls out of the championships. Not when multiple world and Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown fails a drug test. Not when the entire Jamaican team needs to be target tested before competition. Not when Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago, a former world championship bronze medallist also fails a drug test.

And so the time was not right for Gatlin – an Olympic gold medallist who was banned for four years for drugs – to take the world championship title for reassuringly amid this clatter of elite athletes tumbling with positive tests Bolt has stood imperiously apart.

On the blocks he stood theatrically apart. In warm summer rain that grew heaviest for the race, Bolt mimed opening an umbrella and whistling in the rain – yes that is the level of his calm self-assuredness before he runs – and shrugged at the turning of the weather.

Bolt was here not to race to clear anyone’s name. He was here to win back the 100m title he lost in Daegu when he false started and was disqualified in the final.

There was no false start, In fact his start was relatively slow. But as is his style he unfolds his tall body and gets his rhythm and is hard to head. He hit the front of the field and was challenged by Gatlin but he was able to hold him out and take the tape in 9.77seconds – his best time of the year.

“I am happy but I wanted to do better,” Bolt said afterwards of his win. “My legs were sore after the semi-finals, I don’t know why, but the world record wasn’t on so I came out just to win.

“Back in Jamaica, they do not expect less than that from me. They always expect me to dominate!”

Everyone expects Bolt to dominate. And he does. In this field, when so many rivals had fallen to drugs he was especially considered likely to dominate. And he did.

He has now won his sixth world championship gold to match his six Olympic gold. He won the 100m, 200m and sprint relay golds in Berlin, the 200m and relay in Daegu and now the 100m here. Should he win, as expected, two more gold in the 200m and the 100m relay he will have won eight world championship gold.

Only Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson have won more with eight gold medals each. Bolt said in Daegu he was not about winning but affirming himself as a legend. On Sunday night he confirmed he is exactly that.

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James Hird at quarter time at Etihad Stadium on the weekend. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo Mark Thompson said on Monday he had “no idea” whether he would be charged. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Nanjing Night Net

Words of defiance bafflingBuyers beware?Fletch record may be on hold

The AFL is planning to announce charges against Essendon, and potentially a number of individuals including senior coach James Hird, as early as 9am on Tuesday.

Hird; his senior assistant, Mark Thompson; football manager Danny Corcoran and veteran doctor Bruce Reid were all expected to be charged by the AFL, although the game’s governing body and Essendon would not confirm on Monday night whether individual charges, if any, would coincide with those against the club.

Departed high-performance boss Dean Robinson was also expecting to face charges for conduct unbecoming. While Robinson is understood to be prepared to accept his fate at the hands of the AFL, the Bomber quartet, led by Hird, were preparing to fight any charges laid against them.

Thompson said on Fox Footy on Monday night that he had remained in the dark as to the timing of any charges, but added that the club had warned he might be charged. He said it would have been wrong for Hird to resign and pointed to the damage which could be inflicted upon individual reputations as a result of being punished for stepping down as a result of the 2012 drugs scandal.

Lawyers for the AFL, Essendon and Hird have continued to debate what charges would be laid.

If found guilty, the Bombers face being stripped of premiership points and forfeiting their spot in the finals. Hird has maintained that the Bombers, who have lost their past three matches but are still assured, in terms of points, of playing in the finals, have a “right” to feature in September.

They could also lose draft picks and be handed a massive fine. Several key personnel, including Hird, Corcoran and Reid, could face suspensions. New Bombers chairman Paul Little has been staunchly behind Hird and Thompson. However, it’s understood that there are board members who are unsure which way to side in terms of support for the coach.

The Bombers could yet launch legal action, ensuring the saga drags on for months, even years.

Hird sent an email to members on Monday thanking them for their support. “One last message to you as the red and black faithful: continue the great support you have shown all year,” Hird said. “Whether it is at our games, open training sessions, emails, social media or other messages of support, it has been a source of inspiration and strength to all of us here at the club. Keep up the great work and continue to back this great club of ours.”

Thompson said on Fox Footy he had “no idea” whether he would be charged by the AFL, but admitted that he had been told by the club’s legal team there was a possibility he would.

An emotional Thompson opened up about the fear he held for the damage the scandal could do to his legacy in the game.

“I don’t think anyone could really understand the pressure. This is a thing that you don’t really want to be labelled with, that we are going to have to fight for,” the former Geelong premiership coach and champion Essendon player said.

“I don’t want my reputation tarnished by this. It’s hard, because it’s your whole life. And it’s not just your life, it’s your kids, your family, it’s going to be remembered forever. So I don’t want it on my tombstone.”

With Matt Murnane

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