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Archive for February, 2019

Surfing champion Mick Fanning’s brother Peter dies, aged 43

n surfer Mick Fanning. Pic: Mark Kolbe/Getty ImagesThe brother of nsurfing champion Mick Fanning had died,just hours before Fanning paddled out tocompete for the world championship titleat Pipeline in Hawaii.

Peter Fanning, 43,died inhis sleep, according toSurfer Magazine,although no further details were available about the circumstances ofhis death.

Fanning was reportedly told of his brother’sdeath before entering the water for the third round of the PipeMasters at Hawaii.

Despite the tragic news, Fanning went on to win the third and fourth rounds of the event, on Hawaii’sNorth Shore.

In an emotionalinterview after his heat four win against Kelly Slater and John John Florence,Fanningbroke down as he said he was dealing with some “personal” issues, although he did not saywhat they were.

“It’s been a huge day.Just got some personal stuffgoing on at home, and just yeah, it’s sort of heavy to talk about right now,” he said, his voice wavering.

Rip Curl, which sponsors Fanning, confirmed that Peter had passed away.

“This is a sad and unfortunate incident and is a private matter for the family to deal with,” a Rip Curl spokesperson told the ABC.

“We ask that the media respect their privacy. But we can confirm Mick’s older brother Peter has sadly passed away. We will not be commenting further.”

TheSeven Network said a close family friend of Fanning’s confirmed that Peter was staying at Fanning’s Gold Coasthome following his recent divorce.Peter is believed to have three children.

The World Surf League, which is the governing body for professional surfers, said it was aware of the reports that the 43-year-old had died on the Gold Coast.

“The WSL are aware of the reports but have not heard from the Fanning camp regarding them so we’re in no position to comment,” it said in a statement.

Fanning lost one brother, Sean, in acar crash in 1998.

Fairfax Media has contacted Fanning’s manager and family for comment.

Fanning held surfing’sNo.1 ranking ashe headedinto the Pipeline Masters, which will decide whether the nstar winsa fourth world title.

Fanning won his round-three heat against Pipeline specialist JamieO’Brien.In an interview after that heat,earlier in the day, he made no mention of the reported tragedy.

“Jamie is probably the best guy out here, he surfs it the most, so I knew it was always going to be tough,” Fanning said.

“I just got lucky at the start … and kept trying to improve that score and go from there.”

In July,Fanning wasknocked off his surfboard by a sharkwhile competing in the final of South Africa’s J-Bay Open in a terrifyingencounter thatwas broadcast on live television.

WhenFairfax Media spoke to Fanning’s mother at the time, she said she thought she was watching her son die.

“I was too overwhelmed to even think about what was going on for Mick,I just sawmyboygoing down and, you know, that wasabsolutely terrifyingbecauseI have lost a sonbefore,” she said, referring to the death of Mick’s brother Sean.

Mick has previously said that he believes Sean was the “angel on my shoulder” during his career, in which he has claimed three world surfing titles.

Last week,Fanning was among a group of surfers who helped bring young American Evan Geiselman out of the waterat the famed Pipeline break.

Geiselman suffered a bad wipeout and nearly drowned, but is expected to make a full recovery

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Costly parcel scams on the rise in lead-up to Christmas

Parcel scammers are back again this Christmas. Photo: Joe Armao ns need to be wary of emails purporting to be from parcel delivery services, the n Competition and Consumer Commission has warned, as a type of scam that has already seen $80,000 stolen in 2015 ramps up significantly ahead of Christmas.

In the first two weeks of December, the consumer watchdog received more than 100 reports of scammers posing as legitimate post services, and then attempting to infect victims’ computers with software that holds their computer’s files for ransom.

That’s more instances than in the entire month of December last year.

The scam comes in the form of a personally addressed email purporting to be from a service such as Post or FedEx, complete with fraudulent logos, advising the victim a parcel is being held for them.

When the victim clicks on an attachment or link, ransomware is installed that freezes their computer or files before demanding money to unlock them again.

Criminals stole $80,000 from ns in 2015 as a result of this scam, the ACCC said.

“Scammers commonly ask for bitcoins or ask you to transfer money by wire transfer,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Even if you pay the fee, there is no guarantee that your computer will be unlocked.”

Executable files and zip files — which end in .exe and .zip, respectively — are likely to contain malicious software, or malware, the ACCC said.

Linus Information Security Solutions director Mike Thompson said hackers were increasingly turning to “social engineering”, where they trick a victim into divulging sensitive information or performing a task such as downloading malware.

Ms Rickard warned ns who receive a suspicious email about a package to not open any attachments or download any files. Recipients can also call the delivery company directly to verify if the correspondence is genuine.

If an Post parcel is delivered and nobody is home, the delivery person will leave a hard copy notice, the ACCC said.

The watchdog is advising users to regularly back up their computer’s data to a separate hard drive. ACCC’s five tips for protecting yourself against this scam

Post will put a notice in your letter box if a package was undeliverable. Delete any email claiming to be from Post about an undelivered package.

Do not click on links or download files in emails you receive out of the blue — especially if they are executable (.exe) files or zip files. These files are likely to contain malware.

If you are suspicious about a ‘missed’ parcel delivery, call the company directly to verify that the correspondence is genuine. Independently source the contact details through an internet search or phone book — do not rely on numbers provided.

Buy yourself (or your business) a stand-alone hard drive for Christmas. These have become relatively inexpensive and can save you a lot if your computer is infected by malware or ransomware.

Regularly back-up your computer’s data on a separate hard drive. If your computer is infected by malware or ransomware you can restore the factory settings and easily re-install all of your software and data.

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James Packer confirms Crown Resorts privatisation talks

Billionaire James Packer is exploring options for a privatisation of casino operator Crown Resorts. Photo: Pat ScalaJames Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings is pushing for a full privatisation of casino operator Crown Resorts, with several partners remaining in talks with the billionaire about executing a deal before year-end.

Mr Packer has been courting cashed-up buy-out firms and sovereign wealth funds to see if he can raise part of the estimated $5 billion or more he would need to privatise his sprawling business empire. Mr Packer’s private company CPH owns 53 per cent of Crown.

CPH, Mr Packer’s private investment vehicle, released an ambiguous statement on Thursday stating it had held meetings with third parties regarding Crown while not specify a timeframe around the talks.

CPH said no buy-out or privatisation deal has been put to Crown’s board.

“From time to time CPH has confidential discussions with third parties regarding CPH’s investments, including its shareholding in Crown Resorts,” CPH finance director Michael Johnston said. “[These talks] should not be taken as any indication that any proposal of the nature that has been the subject of the media speculation will be made by CPH in the future.”

A source close to Mr Packer said he expected the casino magnate to push ahead with plans to take Crown private if he thought a different structure would provide a better value proposition.

“He’s a businessman at the end of the day and will not be sentimental about changing the formation of the empire if he wants to,” the source said. “There are at least two parties who he remains in talks with.” Potential co-investors

While talks that took place in the last few weeks explored funding options with potential co-investors to buy all or some of Crown Resorts’ assets, it is understood Mr Packer is leaning towards a full privatisation as his favoured outcome.

CPH said it will submit a proposal to Crown directors should any deal eventuate.

“If CPH intends to pursue a buy-out or privatisation of Crown Resorts, as speculated in the media, it would put forward a proposal to the Crown Resorts independent directors for their consideration,” Mr Johnston said. “CPH has not put forward any proposal of the nature speculated in the media to the Crown Resorts independent directors.”

A separate source said both private equity and pension funds may be open to funding a deal given the attraction of predictable cash flows coming from Crown’s domestic casinos.

Deutsche Bank said CPH may look to acquire Crown’s 34 per cent stake in the Macau-focused casino player Melco Crown, despite revenues from the world’s largest gambling hub being hit by a crackdown on corruption.

“We believe CPH could acquire Crown’s 34.3 per cent interest in Melco Crown at market (total cost of $4.1 billion) in order to make the value in Crown more transparent,” Deutsche analyst Mark Wilson said. “Melco Crown is trading at an implied discount of 31 per cent to market value.”

Crown said it had not received any offers for a possible joint bid for the company.

“Crown is unaware of any proposal for a possible joint bid for Crown, which is the subject of the media speculation, and has not received any such proposal from any party,” Crown’s general counsel Michael Neilson said.

Crown shares fell 1.6 per cent on Thursday to $11.58 after surging 10.5 per cent on Wednesday, giving the gaming company a market capitalisation of $7.5 billion.

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China’s asset sales become global model, luring $35b from Canada alone

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Commonwealths Heads of Government meeting in Malta last month. Photo: Adrian Wyld Shipping containers sit stacked among gantry cranes at a port in Sydney. Photo: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

NSW reaps $8 billion infrastructure bonanza from Transgrid privatisation

has been the target of a record $US25 billion ($35 billion) in acquisitions this year by Canadian investors who are applauding the nation’s strategy of selling state assets to fund new railways, roads and hospitals. Canadian purchases in jumped more than eightfold in 2015. Caisse de Dépô​t et Placement du Québec bought into the NSW electricity grid through the Transgrid privatisation and opened a Sydney office with six executives this year. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the nation’s Brookfield Asset Management are part of rival groups competing for the port and rail company Asciano. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is encouraging state governments to sell assets and use the money to fund new projects, as tumbling commodity prices and China’s slowing economic expansion wreak havoc on the federal budget.  trails only the US as a target for Canadian outbound acquisitions that more than doubled this year to a record $US201 billion. “We’re there to invest in infrastructure, and they are the model,” said Ron Mock, chief executive officer of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which manages about C$155 billion ($156 billion). “They’ve figured out how to attract capital from all over the world.” The world is looking for such models. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined a €315 billion ($475 billion) three-year development plan in January seeking to mobilise private investment instead of adding to public debt. US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is calling for a $US275 billion boost in federal spending over five years to modernise ailing roads and bridges. Canada’s newly elected Liberal government has promised to double infrastructure spending to C$125 billion over the next decade and improve an overwhelmed public transit system. Global model

Treasurer Scott Morrison, facing a budget deficit of 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product for the year to June 30, is offering regions incentive payments of 15 per cent of the value of any asset they sell provided proceeds finance new infrastructure. The Asset Recycling Fund was created in July 2014 with $5.9 billion of funding. NSW Premier Mike Baird, a former banker at Deutsche Bank, has funded new roads and hospitals with close to $20 billion of asset sales since 2012, including the sale of power transmission company TransGrid and leases to three ports. Victoria plans to sell the Port of Melbourne to help fund a $6 billion plan to remove 50 railroad crossings. The creativity in ‘s system should serve as a global model, bridging the gap between investors that favour mature assets and the need for riskier new infrastructure projects, according to Mark Machin, international head for Canada Pension, Canada’s country’s largest pension plan. “It’s excellent policy,” he said. “They’re getting tremendous interest and tremendous value from international capital and domestic capital.”

Common history

For Canadians, investing their billions here is less complicated than in other destinations, as the two countries share a common history and culture, are largely resource-driven and have a similar legal system, Machin said. Canada Pension has about C$6.7 billion in investments in , equal to 2.4 per cent of its total assets. It is competing with Brookfield, Canada’s largest alternative asset manager, in a $9 billion battle for Asciano that would be the countyry’s  largest corporate takeover in this year. ” is a market that is about as similar to Canada as you can get,” Machin said. “It’s a very easy market for us to feel very comfortable in.” Caisse de Depot, Canada’s second-largest pension fund, was the biggest investor in the group that last month agreed to pay $10.3 billion for TransGrid. Its real estate arm made its first direct investment in  in April with a stake in Sydney’s Liberty Place office complex. “‘s economy and government are in healthy condition,” said Macky Tall, Caisse’s senior vice president of infrastructure investments. “The market has been one of the deepest markets in not only public-private partnerships projects, but also a number of major privatisations.” Electricity distributor

Caisse de Dépô​t will have about 20 per cent of its infrastructure portfolio, or roughly $13 billion, invested in after TransGrid, he said. Tall said it was too early to say whether the investment firm would bid for the 50.4 per cent stakes in two other electricity distribution companies NSW is planning to sell. Expressions of interest for the first of those stakes, Ausgrid, are due this month. Canadian funds need to invest several hundred million dollars of monthly inflows from the country’s pension system, said Dominic Hudson, head of investment banking at RBC Capital Markets in , who helped advise Caisse on TransGrid. Borealis Infrastructure Management, an arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, also has an office in Sydney, while Canada Pension and Ontario Teachers service by flying in staff from elsewhere in Asia and abroad. “They need to look for a home for all that money,” said Hudson. “They are looking for alternative assets like infrastructure for that growth, and they can’t find those opportunities in North America alone.”


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The Carols By Candlelight in King Edward Park burn brighter each year

Twinkling lights: Anne-Marie Siswoy with daughter Indra, of Kotara, enjoying the 2014 Carols by Candlelight at King Edward Park. WHEN theCarols By Candlelight in King Edward Parkbeganmore than 30 years ago, it attracted just a “smattering” of people who gathered around the rotunda to belt out a few festive tunes.

The entertainment consisted of children’s entertainerMiss Kim, 2HD radio announcer Richard King,and musical directorMilton Ward on the keys.

“I just carted the organ in there and we all sat in the rotunda and played a few Christmas carols for those people who wanted to join in,” Mr Ward said.

“From there it just developedinto what it is today–a30-piece choir, a monster stage and an eight-piece orchestrawith five different acts and singers.”

Last year the Carols By Candlelight attracted more than 15,000 people.

A similar crowd is expected on Friday, December 18,when the Newcastle Herald Newcastle Permanent Carols by Candlelightkicks off at 5.30pm.

Since its humble beginningsthe event has been hosted by the likes ofTony Barber, Barry Crocker and Kamahl, but this year MO Award-winning performer Adam Scicluna will returnto the stage to entertain and lead the proceedings.

There will also be performances byHunter Singers, Renee Berger,Nicholas Thoroughgood and Lauren Wheatley.

“Looking out from the stage each year,it is just a sea of faces,” he said

“Then when it’s dark and the candles come on it is just a sea of sparkling candles.”

Mr Ward was proud of what the event had become.

“I had my children up on stage when they were smaller,and now I’ve got grand kids coming up on stage with me,” he said.

Throughout its long history, the event has only been rained-out twice.

“One year it was pouring, there was water dripping on some of the microphones on the stage,” he said.

“We looked out and there was half a dozen people sitting under a canvas yelling,‘What time areyou gonna start?’”

The winner of the 2015 Hunter Water Hunter Hero Awards will also be announced during the event.

Every Monday in the Community section of the Newcastle Herald, we sharestories of Hunter people going above and beyond the call of duty in and for their local community.

The awardssalute these unsung heroes, with the finalists chosen via an online poll.

The carolsofficially beginat 7pm, but there will becarnival rides, activities,food,and aphoto booth from5.30pm.Santa will also make an appearance.

There is free parking in King Street Car Park, and ashuttle service from 5.30pm to 10pm.

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