Developer snares Point Cook parcel for around $30m

A local housing estate developer is paying a speculated $30 million to buy into the booming suburb of Point Cook, 25 kilometres south-west of Melbourne.
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The 14-hectare farm at 400-448 Point Cook Road abuts an area known as Aviators Field, which is mooted to make way for a series of residential housing estates in the medium term.

Frasers Property controls another large parcel of land adjoining the site – its Life, Point Cook estate is set to accommodate some 1800 people in 600 dwellings. Life, Point Cook, being marketed at present, will also include 9.9 hectares of park, wetlands and reserves.

Sanctuary Lakes Golf Course, Point Cook Coastal Park, Cheetham Wetlands and numerous sports and recreation facilities are also nearby. Student-aged residents who move into this area, about four kilometres south of the Point Cook town centre, will be in the catchment for entry into Alamanda College.

According to Domain Group data, Point Cook’s median house price has risen from $450,000 in 2015 to $628,000 today (for four-bedroom dwellings).

Biggin & Scott Land directors Andrew Egan and Frank Nagle marketed 440-448 Point Cook Road. The deal comes five months after the pair sold 18 hectares of Green Wedge-zoned land in Point Cook for a speculated price of more than $9 million.

MFB lists Moonee Ponds ghost building

After seizing control of a central Moonee Ponds office seven years ago – then keeping it vacant – the Metropolitan Fire Brigade has decided to sell.

The nondescript building on a 1608-square metre plot at 579-591 Mount Alexander Road is part of a portfolio of three properties listed for individual sale this week, worth a total of about $18 million.

Another Moonee Ponds asset near to this office – a car park on 1106sq m at 325 Ascot Vale Road – is also on offer.

Any buyer wishing to re-open the three-level workplace, which was once occupied by Foxtel, would need to purchase the car park to meet dispensation requirements.

A more likely scenario, according to sources, is that these two sites, six kilometres north-west of the CBD, will sell to apartment developers.

The third MFB site offered as part of the portfolio, in Croydon, about 27 kilometres east of the CBD, covers a 1630sq m area, and includes three buildings with the potential to derive a commercial rental income.

This site is also being marketed as a premium residential development opportunity.

Knight Frank’s Danny Clark, Andrew Greenway and Tom Zhou are representing the MFB.

Carlton corner sells

A local private investor has offloaded a site at one of the most prominent corners in Melbourne’s inner-north, for a speculated $10 million.

The 1609-square metre Carlton holding at the south-west corner of Elgin and Rathdowne streets, and also with access to Pinky’s Lane, is zoned Commercial 1, and as such was targeted to developers of high-density, mixed-use projects.

Presently the site is configured with a low rise retail complex, a warehouse and car park – so it was also marketed to passive investors, too.

A kilometre from the CBD, and close to the University of Melbourne, the Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens and Lygon Street retail strip, the properties known as 129-135 and 137-143 Elgin Street were marketed by Hockingstuart’s Scott McElroy with CBRE’s Scott Orchard, Julian White and Jimmy Tat.

The site is not far away from the former historic Corkman pub, which developers controversially demolished without a permit last year.

Another Mercure sold

An award-winning, state-of-the-art hotel in the township of Warragul, just over 100 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, is selling for $7.8 million, a fortnight after agents closed an expressions of interest campaign.

The two-year old complex known as the Mercure Hotel Warragul, at 23 Mason Street, includes 47 four-star rated suites, numerous function, meeting and conference rooms and a two-bedroom manager’s residence.

It is part of a wider development within Warragul’s commercial precinct which includes a gym, restaurant, medical facility and car park.

Offered with a 20-year lease to Mercure, backed by the global AccorHotels chain, the asset returns annual rent of $570,028.

Mercure has five lease renewal options – each for five years – once its initial rental agreement ends.

The hotel recently won the Regional Accommodation Venue of the Year award at the 2017 Tourism Accommodation (Vic) Awards for Excellence.

Colliers International’s Guy Wells with Wilson Property Residential Commercial Industrial’s Ben Wilson, sold the asset to a Gippsland-based investment syndicate.

Last month it was reported a park-front Mercure Hotel in the city’s Spring Street is selling to developer CBus Property, which plans to replace the land with a 30-plus level apartment building.

RSPCA offloads Box Hill North site

The Victorian arm of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – more commonly known as the RSPCA – is banking a speculated $6.5 million from the sale of a suburban development site in Box Hill North.

The 4036-square metre holding at 83-87 Dorking Road, on the north-west corner of Medway Street, includes five adjoining plots, one which is configured with a period style residence.

Just a kilometre from central Box Hill, and 14 kilometres east of the CBD, the tract was marketed to developers, including ones considering a residential or aged-care complex.

The vacant site was marketed by CBRE’s David Minty, Scott Orchard and Chao Zhang.

Neighbouring businessmen offer South Yarra supersite

Two prominent Melbourne businessmen have united their small, neighbouring, but spectacularly located South Yarra holdings – to create a supersite some sources are tipping could make way for the city’s most exclusive apartment tower.

The rectangle-shaped 969-square metre plot on a street L-bend known as 49-55 Claremont Street, opposite and with unobstructed views over the Melbourne High School oval, is expected to sell for about $35 million.

Two of the sites – 49 and 51 – are investments retained by AES Cleaning director George Haritos and his partners.

The neighbouring site was purchased by high-profile South Yarra developer Michael Yates about three years ago. Mr Yates is understood to have pursued plans to build a medium-density apartment complex on his small block.

Combined with the Haritos-controlled holding, the site, also with CBD and Yarra River vistas, can make way for something taller, possibly of more than 30 storeys.

CBRE’s Julian White and Mark Wizel are the marketing agents.

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Michelle Payne to ride in first Cox Plate … and against Winx

GETTING ACQUAINTED: Michelle Payne and Kaspersky at Moonee Valley this week.Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne will realise another dream when she gets the chance to compete in her first Cox Plate.
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Payne shot to international prominence two years ago when she became the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup on Prince Of Penzance at Flemington.

On Saturday Payne will be legged aboard the Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Kaspersky in another of ‘s most important races – the $3 million Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

Payne rode Kaspersky to fifth placing in the Queen Anne Stakes at the famous Royal Ascot meeting in England in June.

“The Cox Plate is one of my favourite races from growing up,” Payne said.

“I haven’t missed a year, so to be out there on Saturday would be really special.”

Champion Winx is the $1.15 favourite to win her third Cox Plate, with rival connections realistic about the task ahead.

Payne won the Melbourne Cup on a $101 chance and English horse Kaspersky is at $81 in the field of nine.

“I don’t know if I would be the most popular person in if we happened to beat Winx,” Payne said.

“But I don’t know whether we have to worry too much about that.

“You can only do your best. We’ll go out there and treat it like any other race and give it our best shot and see what happens.

“It would be pretty special (to win).

“It’s right up there with the Melbourne Cup. Obviously it’s such a unique race because the committee only let in certain horses that they think are eligible to compete in it. That’s, I think, very special because I don’t know whether there’s too many races in the world that have that.

“If we were able to be successful would be an unbelievable dream. But just to be out there is going to be great.”

Payne also holds a trainers’ licence in Victoria and has scarcely ridden in races this season.

She rode her first winner for 2017/18 at Stawell on Monday on a horse she also trains, wearing the same colours Kaspersky carries.

Illness forced her to miss riding Kaspersky when he ran 16th in the Toorak Handicap, but she rode him at trackwork at Moonee Valley on Tuesday and said the horse was in great order.

Payne’s brother Patrick won the 2002 Cox Plate on champion Northerly.

Saturday’s Cox Plate is set to jump at 5pm.

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Twitter flags first-ever profit, shares surge

Twitter said on Thursday it may become profitable for the first time next quarter after slashing expenses over the past year and ramping up deals to sell its data to other companies, which could help to break its reliance on advertising for revenue.
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Shares of Twitter soared more than 16 per cent to $US20.04 in afternoon trading. The company also said user growth resumed in the third quarter after stalling in the prior three months.

Twitter has never had a profitable quarter based on US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), but said it “will likely be GAAP profitable” in the fourth quarter if it hits the high end of its estimates.

The social media company has struggled to convert its appeal among celebrities and public figures such as US President Donald Trump to attract users and advertisers amid fierce competition from Facebook and Snapchat. It has worked in recent months to sign live-streaming deals and make other changes to improve user experience.

Revenue from data licensing and other sources in the third quarter was $US87 million, Twitter said, up 22 per cent from a year earlier. That helped cushion an 8 per cent decrease in advertising revenue.

Twitter said it signed a “significant number” of enterprise deals in the third quarter, which would help stabilise its revenue flow. The company did not name the companies it had inked deals with.

Twitter reported quarterly revenue of $US590 million, down 4 per cent from a year earlier, attributing much of the decrease to a previously announced decision to wind down its TellApart advertising product.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $US587 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

San Francisco-based Twitter also disclosed that it had discovered an error in how it had measured its user base since 2014 and revised its estimates downward, but said the difference amounted to less than 1 per cent.

The company reported 330 million monthly active users in the quarter ended on September 30, up 4 million from a quarter earlier, helped by email and push notifications.

In the United States, where growth had stalled earlier this year, the number of users rose to 69 million from 68 million.

Analysts on average expected 330.4 million monthly active users worldwide and 69 million in the United States, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

Twitter said that in past estimates it had wrongly counted people who logged into applications associated with the company’s Fabric software platform, which Twitter sold this year to Google.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not disclose daily active users, but says that number is less than half the monthly figure.

The decline in quarterly revenue was the third since Twitter’s debut as a public company in 2013 and raised concerns about growth among some analysts.

“Yes, they grew 4 million MAU sequentially, which is good enough for the stock to stay at current levels, but revenue growth remains a problem,” said Michael Pachter, managing director, equity research at Wedbush Securities.

“It’s great that they are controlling expenses and generating EBITDA growth, but investors want to see faster MAU growth and some revenue growth,” Pachter said.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said on a conference call that the company was trying out ways to attract and engage more users.

“We’re playing a lot with better matching people with their interests and with topics they care about. This is an area of experimentation,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Twitter said it banned advertisements from accounts owned by Russian media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik, citing allegations by US intelligence agencies that the outlets tried to interfere with the 2016 US election.

The company has been under scrutiny from US lawmakers as part of a broad investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Cost cuts, smaller loss

Twitter’s net loss narrowed to $US21 million, or 3 US cents per share, from $US103 million, or 15 US cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company earned 10 US cents per share.

Analysts expected a profit of US 6 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Twitter cut expenses by 16 per cent from a year earlier. Stock-based compensation declined 36 per cent, but Twitter said the cuts were broad-based, covering sales and marketing and research and development.

Expenses would selectively increase moving forward, the company said.

Chief Operating Officer Anthony Noto told analysts that Twitter was still in the early stages of exploring a product around its TweetDeck interface.

“We’ve only done concept tests,” he said.

The company has stepped up efforts to keep people hooked through live-streaming deals, including for concerts, professional golf and news programs.

Twitter last month began testing tweets as long as 280 characters, double the existing cap, and has announced plans to toughen its rules on online sexual harassment.

Up to Wednesday’s close, Twitter’s stock had risen 5.2 per cent this year, compared with a 30.4 per cent gain in the S&P 500 information technology index.


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Vale almost quadruples profit on higher iron ore prices

Brazil’s Vale saw net income jump by nearly 300 per cent in the third quarter as iron ore prices rose, the world’s largest iron ore producer said, even as earnings fell shy of analyst estimates.
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In a securities filing, Vale said net income totalled $US2.23 billion, 287 per cent above the $US575 million it posted during the same period last year. However, the figure was under an average consensus estimate of $US2.439 billion.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) hit $US4.192 billion, just below a consensus estimate of $US4.384 billion compiled by Thomson Reuters.

The results may have missed consensus estimates due to lower shipping volumes, as Vale held back iron ore inventories in expectation of higher prices ahead, and a weak quarter for the coal business, said Amos Fletcher, a Barclays analyst, adding that profit still beat Barclays’ forecast by 3 per cent.

Despite “frustration” that debt did not decline further, the miner is on track to meet its target debt goal of $US15 billion to $US17 billion by year end, he said. Vale posted net debt of $US21.066 billion, down from $US22.122 billion in the second quarter.

Last week, the company announced record iron ore production in the July-September quarter which was helped by a ramp-up at its S11D mine as well as an increase in output of higher quality ore.

China’s intense environmental cleanup has pushed steel producers to use higher quality material, which produces more steel for each tonne that is processed, and can reduce emissions as less coke is used in production.

“We believe management is on track to turn around non-performing assets, deleverage and deliver a commercially more prepared company to ‘fight’ the environmental challenges in China,” BTG Pactual said in a client note. “However, we believe these transformations will demand time.”

On Thursday, the company said it had sold 76.4 million tonnes of iron ore in the third quarter, up from 74.2 million tonnes in the same quarter last year. The reference price of iron ore closed at $US76.10 per tonne in the third quarter, up nearly 30 per cent from a year earlier.

Revenue in the quarter reached $US9.05 billion, just short of estimates for $US9.09 billion, but well above the $US6.726 billion posted a year earlier. Capital expenditure in the quarter was $US863 million.

Earlier this month, remaining preferred shareholders in the miner voted to accept a plan obliging them to convert their shares into a single stock class, finalising a process that is part of the miner’s bid to improve corporate governance.


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When the most personal photos end up on Facebook

A man types on a laptop computer in an arranged photograph taken in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. U.S. officials are discussing whether new standards should be set for government action in response to hacks like the one suffered by Sony Pictures Entertainment, such as if a certain level of monetary damage is caused or if values such as free speech are trampled, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers said in an interview with Bloomberg News. Photographer: Daniel Acker/BloombergIt was something of a nightmare when Jane* discovered false online profiles sporting intimate nude photos she had sent to a former partner.
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With captions that said she was “up for sex straight away,” the photos encouraged unknown callers to knock on her front door every half hour through the night.

Jane is among one in 10 ns to have had nude or intimate images posted online without their consent.

For women aged 18 to 49 the figure is one in five, while for Indigenous ns it is greater still, affecting one in four.

Image-based abuse is a growing tool of harassment among adults and school-age teens alike.

In many cases it is generated by current or former partners as a result of sexual or domestic violence or “sexploitation”.

A three-part research project by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has revealed 63 per cent of all image abuse victims knew the perpetrator, with more than half of all images shared through Facebook.

The social networking site was the chosen channel for a 13-second video shared earlier this year, depicting the sexual assault of a teenage girl at a high school party in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The video was the subject of a sentencing hearing this week, in which a 15-year-old Rose Bay Secondary College student was found guilty of producing child abuse material and disseminating child abuse material.

He was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and ordered not to approach, contact or communicate with the teenage girl during that time, by way of apprehended violence order. He will not have his conviction recorded.

“We’re certainly very familiar with that case,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

“The terrible thing for the victim of course was that she ostensibly found out about the assault through the sharing of the video … bringing shame and humiliation.”

Ms Inman Grant said young people were particularly vulnerable to image-based abuse, as they often failed to realise the ramifications of their actions and increasingly felt pressured to send and share intimate images.

“There is a huge amount of work we need to do in terms of prevention and social and cultural change. We know there are still gendered double standards,” she said.

“But it’s equally devastating for adults. In our research talking to adults … many have had to change jobs … and it impacts relationships with partners, family members and friends.”

Ms Inman Grant said non-consensual use of intimate photos “followed victims for life, forming part of their permanent digital footprint”.

As part of its qualitative research the Office of the eSafety Commissioner conducted 38 in-depth interviews with female victims aged 18 to 44, as well as a number of frontline workers.

This followed a survey of more than 4000 ns, which revealed 76 per cent of image-based abuse victims did not take action because they were ashamed, were unsure of what to do or felt it would achieve nothing. Eighty-seven per cent of people who did take action said doing so resolved their problem.

“Technology has just added another dimension to domestic violence,” said eSafetyWomen workshops trainer Lesley Harrison, who works with frontline workers who support victims of abuse.

Ms Harrison said technology-facilitated abuse came in many forms.

“We see monitoring and stalking through devices, tracking apps, harassment through hundreds of emails or phone calls and impersonated accounts on social media, which is where image-based abuse comes in.”

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner recently launched a new portal for victims of image-based abuse to seek support, legal advice or help in having photographs taken down.

“There are many responsible social media sites that don’t want this content, like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat … and we have strong trusted relationships with them,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“It’s very painstaking, labour-intensive work to have such images taken down, but when you have the government behind you … it’s hard for websites to ignore.”

Of 360 intimate photos reported to the office this year, 140 have successfully been taken down.

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