Macquarie sells Axicom, Telstra first female CEO, Pilbara Minerals continues to gain

Macquarie Axicom Telstra female CEO Pilbara Minerals Westpac CSL Calix ASX
Macquarie sold its stake in Axicom to Singtel and AustralianSuper for A$3.58 billion.

ASX-listed majors across banking, telecommunications, biotechnology and mining posted a solid performance this week, with investment banking giant Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG) selling its stake in Axicom in a transaction worth US$2.68 billion (A$3.58 billion).

Owned by a consortium led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, UniSuper and UBS, Axicom was sold to a telecom tower unit of Singapore Telecommunications and pension fund AustralianSuper.

Earlier this week, UK-based National Grid Plc had agreed to sell 60% of its gas transmission business to a consortium including Macquarie Group in a deal estimated at US$12.7 billion (A$17 billion).

The UK utility firm would get £2.2 billion in cash from Macquarie’s asset management firm and British Columbia Investment Management Corp.

Macquarie, which has appreciated more than 35% in the past year, gained 3.4% this week to close at A$206.

CSL Limited

Global rating agency Moody’s reaffirmed its ‘stable outlook’ A3 rating to biotech major CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) on Thursday.

Considering its aggressive growth potential in the near term, Citigroup analysts had recently upgraded CSL to a buy with A$335 per share price target, which is a substantial hike in expectations.

The research house justified its upgrade on “optimistic plasma collection improvements”.

CSL closed-out the week at A$266.28 – up 1.06%.

CSL is an Australian multinational specialty biotechnology company that researches, develops, manufactures, and markets products to treat and prevent serious human medical conditions.

Moody’s rating affirmation reflects CSL’s position as the market leader in the global plasma-derived therapy industry.

The agency expects CSL’s credit metrics will remain in line for the current rating over the next 24 months, despite a jump in leverage ratios.

Westpac Banking Corporation

Global agency Fitch Ratings affirmed Westpac Banking Corporation’s (ASX: WBC) long-term issuer default rating a stable A+ early this week.

Australia’s second-largest bank by loan total and a A$84 billion market cap Westpac has seen year-to-date growth in its share price exceed 10% to close at A$23.95 on Friday – a slight lift of 0.29% for the week.

Fitch took note of solid economic growth projected in Westpac’s two key markets – Australia and New Zealand.

The agency also noted that rising interest rates do pose “a significant impact on Westpac’s asset quality” even as rate hikes would augment its interest income.

Westpac accounted for 20% of system loans at end-January 2022 in Australia.

Telstra Corporation

Telstra Corporation (ASX: TLS) will see its first female chief executive officer in Vicki Brady after Andrew Penn announced his intention to retire on 30 March, after serving more than seven years in the position.

Telstra stock, which has been languishing so far 2022, is up more than 15% over the past 12 months, making it one of the better performers during this longer period.

The stock closed 0.51% up over the week at A$3.93.

Ms Brady joined Telstra in 2016 and has held the role of group executive, consumer, and small business in addition to her current role of chief financial officer and group executive responsible for strategy.

It is planned Ms Brady will commence her new role in September as the A$46 billion telecom firm prepares to unleash a new T25 strategy that is designed to transform every aspect of the business.

Pilbara Minerals

Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS) has completed a scoping study to assess a new refining process for its proposed midstream lithium chemicals refinery.

Pilbara Minerals owns and operates the Pilgangoora mine in WA, which hosts one of the world’s largest lithium resources.

The new refining process is based on Calix’s (ASX: CXL) technology, which has lower carbon emissions and could be potentially used as direct feedstock to lithium batteries that also power Tesla Model 3.

Pilbara Minerals, which has a market capitalisation of around A$10 billion, had seen its stock surge over 200% in the last 12 months.

The stock gained 5.86% this week to close at A$3.43.

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