Rex is airline of the year
Country-based domestic airline, Regional Express, has been named airline of the year at the inaugural Australian Aviation Awards, despite having just posted an after tax loss of $46 million for the 12 months to June 30.
The Australian Aviation Awards, hosted by Australian Aviation magazine and University of NSW's School of Aviation, involved 20 individual and group awards and a shortlist of 118 finalists.
Rex's second consecutive full year loss also came despite lifting total revenue 25 per cent to $319.2m as it moved into jet services on metropolitan routes.
Executive chairman, Lim Kim Hai, said the lingering impact of COVID-19 meant passenger services did not start to recover until February 2022.
Rex also reported a leap in fuel costs from $25m to $65m and other costs up almost $100m to $326m.
"Considering COVID devastated practically three quarters of the financial year and the war in Ukraine caused crude oil prices to skyrocket by 70pc to near-record highs in June, as well as other international economy supply shocks, I am mildly pleased our performance was not much worse," he said.
Meanwhile, Rex's seventh Boeing 737 will begin flying this month, taking advantage of extra demand on its services between Melbourne, Sydney and southern Queensland which achieved an 86pc overall load factor in July and a further 25pc increase in passenger numbers in August.
Ridley share buy back
Fresh from posting a 70 per cent lift in net profit after tax to $42.4 million for the year to June 30, stockfeed business, Ridley Corporation, will conduct a $20m on-market share buy back
Ridley reported operating profit from ongoing operations in 2021-22 up 16pc to $80m, on revenue of $1.05 billion - up 13pc - after navigating rising raw material costs, supply chain delays and the impact of COVID-19.
The strong performance followed rationalisation of its Australian production footprint, including the sale of its Westbury aquaculture feed mill in Tasmania, and an efficiency drive.
Chairman, Mick McMahon, said the share buyback, commencing after October 13, gave Ridley the opportunity to enhance shareholder returns while retaining flexibility to invest in extra capacity and future growth opportunities.
The timing and number of shares to be purchased would depend on prevailing market conditions, share price and capital management initiatives.
United Malt barley relief
After copping an expensive mauling from poor North American growing conditions last year, United Malt Group has reported this season's barley crop outlook remains positive with significant improvements in volume and quality likely.
The international maltster said the Canadian and US barley harvests were progressing in line with expectations with the latest Canadian projections at 10.2 million tonnes, up 47 per cent on 2021.
Receivals at its North American plants were producing good malt, while the harvest in Britain was nearing completion and also producing good quality and yields.
Back at home, moderate temperatures were creating favourable growing conditions for the Australian barley crop.
Rural Funds profit
Rural Funds Group's statutory profit jumped 70 per cent to $210 million in 2021-22, translating to total distributions per investor unit of 11.73 cents.
The grazing, feedlot and irrigated farmland owner's adjusted net asset value increased 24pc to $2.69 per unit.
Increased earnings were largely driven by revaluations in its beef cattle holdings (up $105m), almond properties (up $18m) and water entitlements (up $12m).
During the year Rural Funds acquired three more properties, one of which will be settled in November, and extended an existing cropping property lease for five years.
It also entered into leases for four of its cattle properties for periods of 10 to 25 years duration to the Australian Agricultural Company, Mort and Company which has leased country with plans to develop another feedlot, and Clarke Creek Energy which is building wind turbines on an existing cattle operation.
Rural Funds owns 68 properties producing almonds, grain crops, grapes, macadamias and beef cattle.
Beston tips turnaround
Adelaide-based Beston Global Food Company's dairy and meat business ended the year to June 30 with a $23 million trading loss and a $26m net loss before tax, blaming the impact of pandemic lockdowns on the food service industry and supply chains, COVID-related staff shortages and a 300 per cent jump in freight costs.
The company's sales of lactoferrin to new customers after its production plant upgrade were also delayed as potential overseas customers took longer than expected to approve the purity of Beston's product.
However, processing improvement initiatives delivered strong results in the last quarter, which recorded more than 50pc of the gross margin achieved for the entire 2021-22 year.
Beston said this momentum continued into the first months of 2022-23, with July sales almost 40pc ahead of budget at $17m.
Lactoferrin sales were on track, with all its planned production for this year sold by July and demand for other dairy products exceeding supply.
Palisade drops Geelong plan
Regional saleyards and transport infrastructure investor, Palisade, has shelved its $1.2 billion plans to buy Victoria's Port of Geelong with The Spirit Super.
The consortium's plan to buy the port from Brookfield and State Super were announced in January and expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022-23, but attracted concern from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC was concerned the supply of port services for long term bulk cargo customers in Victoria may be reduced given Palisade already owns the Port of Portland.
Combined these two ports handle more than half the State's bulk cargo.
ACCC chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, said common ownership interests between the two ports created concerns about reduced competition between the two over the medium to long term.
Select boardroom moves
Select Harvests is preparing for the departure of two board directors early next year and has announced the appointment of marketing specialist, Margaret Zabel, as a new director with the almond producer and processor.
She has extensive experience across the fast moving consumer goods, food, technology and communications fields and currently sits on the boards of listed companies The Reject Shop and G8 Education, and Collective Wellness Group and Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand.
Board director's Fiona Bennett and Fred Grimwade will not be standing for re-election at the company's annual general meeting in February after serving terms of five and 12 years respectively
Soils for Life CEO
Non profit soils and regenerative agriculture organisation Soils for Life has appointed its one-time communications manager, Eli Court (pictured), as chief executive officer.
Mr Court's previous roles include food, land and oceans lead at ClimateWorks Centre, and currently, engagement director with Farmers for Climate Action.
He replaces Soils for Life's current general manager and acting CEO, Katie Ross, who continues on the leadership team.
"I am delighted Eli will be joining our team on October 10, working with our wonderful network of farmers and partners to bring to light more exciting new ideas from Australian agriculture," said chairman, Alasdair MacLeod.
"Since its founding by the late Major General Michael Jeffery in 2012, Soils for Life has played a central role in making Australians aware of the potential of agriculture to restore soils and ecosystems."
GrainCorp's Nuffield scholar
Queensland agronomist, Tessa Dimond, has won a Nuffield Australia Scholarship to further her studies on how agricultural chemicals' Maximum Residue Limits can affect Australian grain prices and access to international markets.
She is the first scholar GrainCorp has sponsored through the Nuffield program.
Working with GrainCorp, Ms Dimond (pictured) aims to gain a global perspective on the role of MRLs in the international market and to share best management practices, global trends and leading-edge technology with local growers.
The broadacre and irrigation agronomist from St George, in southern Queensland will travel to Britain, the US, Canada, China, Indonesia and Europe during the 12-month program.
"Label directions, spray quality and drift are cornerstones of protecting access to chemicals, but the same attention is not paid to chemical residues, including MRLs," she said.
WA urea site purchase
Strike Energy has secured $6 million in backing from Rabobank to support the property purchase for its proposed West Australian Mid West low carbon urea manufacturing precinct near Three Springs.
Settlement on a $13.5m agreement to buy 3500 hectares of freehold farmland, which covers Strike's promising South Erregulla SE1 well and other gas discoveries, is due this month.
Strike intends to lease the property back to the current owners to continue farming until it is ready to begin Project Haber which is set to include a 100 megawatt wind farm, a 70MW solar farm, a manufacturing area and an area of carbon sequestration and reafforestation.
Strike has relocated its Project Haber urea manufacturing proposal from Geraldton to its proposed Mid West, saving $85m in capital costs by not having to build a 105 kilometre gas pipeline from the SE1 well to Geraldton.
The company said WA's decision to end coal-fired power generation by 2030 had "substantially increased the attractiveness of renewable energy development".
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