Magellan appoints new CEO, TPG sells mobile towers and Orica boss raises fears over energy security

Magellan Financial Group MFG CEO TPG mobile towers Orica energy Woolworths Woodside Petroleum CSL WPL WOW ORI ASX
Earlier this week Magellan sold its 11.6% stake in Guzman y Gomez to a Barrenjoey Capital Partners entity for $140m.

Magellan Financial Group (ASX: MFG) has announced the appointment of a new chief executive officer in David George, six months on from Brett Cairns deciding to walk away from the job.

Magellan chairman Hamish McLennan is full of praise for Mr George, saying he has an “outstanding investment management pedigree”.

“The board was unanimous in its view that David is the right person to lead Magellan,” he said.

“I am very confident that David, working with Magellan’s best-in-class team, will achieve strong client outcomes over the years.”

The company has confirmed Mr George will take over from current interim chief executive officer Kirsten Morton in August.

Despite Magellan shares dropping significantly in the previous 12 months amid departures and other reasons, the market has responded positively this week in light of the news, with shares reaching $15.99 on Tuesday’s close, up about 0.8% on the previous day.

TPG

TPG Telecom (ASX: TPG) has announced the sale of its mobile tower and rooftop infrastructure network in a bid to alleviate financial issues that have arisen in recent times.

The telecommunications company is the fourth major network operator, after Telstra (ASX: TLS) , Singtel and Macquarie Telecom Group (ASX: MAQ) to cash in on its towers’ infrastructure, selling the assets to Canadian pension fund OMERS for a staggering near $950 million.

TPG says the sale funds will go towards minimising the company’s existing bank debts, with chief executive officer Iñaki Berroeta suggesting the funds will mitigate financial leverage and borrowing costs.

“The tower sale demonstrates the disciplined approach we are taking to asset utilisation and capital allocation as we pursue opportunities to unlock value and maximise our potential for customers and shareholders,” he said.

Orica

Orica’s (ASX: ORI) boss has raised fresh fears this week, becoming increasingly concerned that due to the surging price of gas and other energy commodities, manufacturers could be faced with not “having enough energy at all”.

The explosive giant’s chief executive officer Sanjeev Gandhi says the company is battling to keep up with the demand, reiterating surging input prices, labour shortages and supply chain issues as the key contributors towards the struggle.

Mr Gandhi’s biggest fears lie in the rising energy prices, namely gas and coal prices spiking in the midst of the Ukraine invasion, with Australian gas prices also rising due to disruptions to coal-fired power capacity.

Despite this, Orica has performed well in the previous six months, with a 58% jump in underlying earnings before interest and tax, highlighting the resilience of the business.

Mr Gandhi has urged the incoming Australian government to prioritise the issue of energy security, where he believes policy certainty is a must.

“My investments are over 20, 30, 40-year time horizons,” he said. “What you don’t want is moving goal posts.”

Woolworths

Woolworths (ASX: WOW) will implement a new payment method in the near future, with the company announcing paying with QR codes will be made possible.

Through QR codes, consumers will be able to link rewards and gift cards to payments to improve the checkout experience for customers and could set out a warning for card giants Mastercard and Visa.

Commencing Wednesday next week, customers will be presented with a unique QR code at checkouts, to be scanned with a smartphone, linking them to Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards app.

Woolworths hopes through combining its reward programs and other services with a payment method, the app overall, can be more useful and effective.

Paul Monnington, a former NAB (ASX: NAB) and Oracle executive and now managing director of Woolworths’ Wpay business, says the COVID-19 pandemic has taught everyday consumers the use of QR codes and how effective they have become.

“People are much more knowledgeable about QRs and understand how easy it is to scan – that has been a massive help,” he said.

Woodside Petroleum

Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) has announced its’ intentions to capitalise on Europe’s growing enthusiasm for hydrogen by investing in the production of green hydrogen or ammonia closer to the European market.

Woodside vice president of technology Jason Crusan says the company considers Europe to be an “important marketplace”, and a “thought leader and policy leader that will help drive international standards”.

“We sell to some of the biggest trading houses in Europe for LNG (liquefied natural gas), so we have a big customer interaction focus already in Europe, and we want to see about expanding fuel delivery to those customers,” he said.

Woodside says while it is unlikely to commence a project of its own, the company is interested in partnering with others, similarly to the LNG project.

CSL

CSL (ASX: CSL) has won its US appeal against a court decision that will allow plasma companies to challenge United States Customs and Border Protection’s ban on Mexican nationals donating blood plasma.

The biotechnology giant CSL partnered with Spanish company Grifols to file the lawsuit after the agency shut the border to anyone “non-essential”.

The processing of blood plasma accounts for 85% of CSL’s earnings.

CSL group general counsel Greg Boss says the appeal was necessary towards helping the company achieve its goals.

“We are also pleased that the Court of Appeals’ decision acknowledges the importance of Mexican plasma donors in providing this critical resource necessary to manufacture life-saving, plasma-derived therapies,” he said.

Jefferies analyst David Stanton says roughly 10% of CSL US plasma collection volumes come from centres within 160km of the US and Mexican border.

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