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Major Australian telco launches attack on China

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Telstra has confirmed that it’s talking to the Australian government about a joint bid which would block China from buying Digicel

Reports suggest that Telstra is in talks with the Australian government to snatch Digicel from China.

Digicel operates relatively old 3G and 4G LTE mobile networks in the South Pacific. National security officials in Canberra are concerned China could buy its networks to spy on Australia’s surrounding neighbours.

If China was to access the sensitive data, it could potentially disrupt activity in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, Nauru and Samoa.

The telco also confirmed media reports of the joint offer in a statement to the ASX:

“Telstra has confirmed it has been in discussions regarding a potential transaction to acquire telecommunications company, Digicel Pacific in the South Pacific region in partnership with the Australian Government”.

The company said that should they proceed, the acquisition would come with risk management support from the Australian Government.

“Telstra was initially approached by the Australian Government… In addition to a significant Government funding and support package, any investment would also have to be within certain financial parameters with Telstra’s equity investment being the minor portion of the overall transaction”.

The Morrison government wants to block any Chinese acquisition of Digicel Pacific. This is because it fears Beijing could use Digicel’s mobile tower network to conduct espionage on Australia’s neighbours.

Telstra has asked Digicel’s billionaire Irish owner Denis O’Brien to sit on the board of the company. O’Brien will assist underwriting Digicel’s revenue forecasts for three years.

These reports claim Telstra would pay between $200 and $300 million for the assets. The Morrison government would pay the remaining costs of the $2 billion bid.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Money

Taylor Swift’s concert deals spark international trade dispute

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Pop superstar Taylor Swift has found herself at the center of an international trade dispute following exclusive concert arrangements in Singapore.

The controversy has ignited discussions among politicians and trade experts, raising concerns about anti-competitive practices and the economic impact of Swift’s tour.

The dispute stems from negotiations between Swift’s team and Singaporean authorities, resulting in an agreement for the singer to perform exclusively in Singapore, bypassing other Southeast Asian countries.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin alleged that Swift received substantial sums, nearly $US3 million per show, for these exclusive performances, leading to criticism from neighboring nations.

Critics argue that Swift’s exclusive deal with Singapore could be perceived as anti-competitive, potentially violating World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Filipino politicians have condemned the arrangement as a “hurtful betrayal” and have called for diplomatic protests against Singapore.

Defending the deal

Despite the controversy, Singaporean officials, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, defended the deal, highlighting the economic benefits of hosting Swift’s concerts.

Estimates suggest that Swift’s tour has generated significant revenue, with the economic impact in Australia could reach up to $1 billion.

Prime Minister Lee says the decision to host Swift exclusively in Singapore was made through negotiations and did not involve coercive measures.

He asserted that it was ultimately Swift’s prerogative to determine her tour destinations.

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Money

Bitcoin surges closer to all-time high

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Bitcoin surged to new heights on Monday, inching ever closer to its all-time high as the cryptocurrency market continued its bullish momentum following a weekend pause.

The flagship cryptocurrency recorded a remarkable 7.65% increase, reaching a price of $67,608.30, according to data from Coin Metrics.

Earlier in the day, it peaked at $67,977.77, marking its highest level since November 2021 when it achieved its previous all-time high. Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, also experienced gains, rising by 3.41% and trading near January 2022 highs at $3,588.83.

Both bitcoin and ether are riding the wave of their best week in almost a year, with bitcoin witnessing a 21% surge and ether climbing by 16%.

However, the weekend saw a temporary halt in their ascent as the market absorbed two days of significant outflows from the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which were offset by inflows into other newly launched bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Market dynamics

Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto exchange Nexo, noted the influence of these new ETFs on market dynamics, suggesting that major movements are now occurring during regular trading days rather than weekends. He emphasized the potential for explosive price action amidst strong demand from these new spot ETFs.

Although bitcoin currently stands around 3% below its intraday record of $68,982.20, it continues to uplift other crypto tokens, particularly meme coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu coin, which surged by 14% and 45% respectively.

Analysts interpret this as a sign of renewed interest from retail investors in the crypto market, as meme tokens’ weekly trade volume recently reached its highest level since late 2021.

Meanwhile, the rally in crypto equities varied, with Coinbase and Microstrategy experiencing gains of 11% and 24% respectively, while miners witnessed a downturn.

Companies such as CleanSpark, Cipher Mining, Iris Energy, Marathon Digital, and Riot Platforms faced declines ranging from 5% to 7% as concerns over the upcoming halving event in April weighed on investor sentiment.

Although some analysts foresee potential short-term corrections due to extreme profit margins, long-term investors remain optimistic.

They anticipate sustained upward momentum driven by increasing demand through new U.S. ETFs and tightening supply post-April halving.

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Money

Taxing times: 64% of Aussies think they pay too much tax

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As the cost of living continues to rise, a staggering 64% of Australians are voicing their concern over the amount of tax they pay annually, according to recent research conducted by Finder, Australia’s leading comparison site.

The survey, which polled 1,004 respondents, found that nearly two-thirds of Australians, equating to approximately 13 million individuals, feel burdened by the tax they contribute each financial year.

Of particular note is the sentiment among millennials, with a striking 80% expressing dissatisfaction with their tax contributions. Following closely behind are Gen Xers, with 72% sharing similar sentiments. Comparatively, Gen Z (63%) and baby boomers (39%) exhibit less discontent with their tax obligations.

Sarah Megginson, a personal finance expert at Finder, highlighted the strain that the cost of living imposes on individuals’ financial situations.

“Budgets are stretched thin, with many struggling to make ends meet,” she noted. “While inflation is trending downwards, the financial burden remains heavy for a significant portion of Australians.”

Tax hope

However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

The Australian government has announced plans to implement tax cuts commencing July 1, aimed at providing relief to taxpayers grappling with the escalating cost of living.

According to Finder’s analysis, Australians earning between $45,000 and $135,000 annually stand to benefit from a further tax cut of $804, in addition to previously announced reductions.

This translates to a substantial increase in disposable income, potentially alleviating financial strain for many households.

For instance, an individual earning the median Australian income of $83,200 could expect a tax cut of $1,759 over 12 months, nearly double the previous $955 reduction.

Meanwhile, those earning over $200,000 annually will receive approximately $4,529 under the new stage 3 tax cuts, compared to $9,075 under the previous scheme.

Money back

Megginson emphasized the significance of this financial injection in easing the burden of everyday expenses.

“Those struggling with everyday costs will see more money back in their pocket to help battle expenses,” she remarked.

“If your budget allows, stashing some of this extra cash is a wise move. Every bit helps build a buffer for those unexpected rainy days.”

Megginson advised individuals to explore avenues for potential savings, such as switching service providers to reduce expenses. For those unable to save, she recommended allocating the extra funds towards paying down debt and bills to alleviate financial pressure.

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