Small Cap Monitor:

Leighton Secures 3 More Project Valued At $US300.

Leighton Asia, a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, has secured three new projects worth $US300 million in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

In a joint venture with China State Construction Engineering, Leighton Asia was awarded a US$80 million contract for the construction of an aircraft maintenance hangar at the Hong Kong International Airport.

In the Philippines, Leighton Asia has been awarded two mining contracts.

OceanaGold has awarded Leighton the open cut mining project for the Didipio gold and copper mine. The contract, valued at $US60 million, involves the construction of site accommodation and related earthworks, tailings storage facility and the open cut mining for the first phase of the mine project.

Leighton has also secured a six year relationship based contract valued at US$170 million to undertake mining operations at the Masbate Gold Mine in the Philippines.

“The award of these projects demonstrates our ability to be competitive in the region and supports our objective to become a global miner,” Leighton Asia managing director, Hamish Tyrwhitt.

Leighton Asia has been operating in the Asian region for more than 30 years. Based in Hong Kong the company also operates in Macau, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Leighton securities traded in a narrow range of $40.41 to $41.70, and closed slightly up, at $41.55.

Nufarm Positive Despite 71% Fall In Profit.

Australian marketer and manufacturer of crop protection chemicals Nufarm Limited (NUF) says it is positive in its outlook for the remainder of 2008 financial year, with global agricultural markets showing strong demand for its products.

The group delivered its interim results today, reporting a 71% fall in profit to $4.6 million, compared to $15.9 million in the prior corresponding period.

Nufarm said profit before material items was $35.4 million.

A major non-operating item was recorded against this, associated with a barter trade contract in Brazil, now closed.

However its revenue has increased by 71% to $990 million for the six months from $580 million.

All of Nufarm’s regional crop protection businesses recorded stronger results on both sales and operating EBIT basis.

The company said of particular note was the significantly improved result from the Australian operations and the higher earnings contribution from the fully owned Brazilian business.

Earnings per share were 1.6 cents, compared to 9.3 cents for the six months to 31 January 2007.

In its outlook, Nufarm upgraded its full-year net operating profit guidance to $150 million from $145 million.

“Crop plantings in all markets are expected to be very strong, driven by soaring global demand for grains and other agricultural commodities and near record crop prices,” Nufarm said.

“Given adequate rains over the next few months, Australia is poised to show a very strong recovery from recent drought affected seasons with forecasts for a large winter crop planting.”

Nufarm manufactures and supplies a range of agricultural chemicals used by farmers to protect crops from damage caused by weeds, pests and disease.

It has operations throughout the world, and sells products in more than 100 different countries.

Shares in Nufarm fell 34 cents to $16.45.

Spotles Group Reveals Take-over Bid For PRG.

Industrial services company Spotless Group (SPT) said it plans to make a $556 million off-market takeover offer for Programmed Maintenance Service (PRG), increasing the share price of its target by as much as 15%.

Spotless has a 13.2% interest in Programmed’s issued capital, and says if the groups were to merge, the entity would have a proforma capitalisation of $1.25 billion and be one of the top 150 largest companies by market capitalisation.

Spotless said it believes its target has a strong strategic fit and that the combination of two businesses will create a highly complementary facility services business along service lines, operating geographies and client segments.

“Spotless is attracted to Programmed given the highly complementary nature of their businesses. The creation of the merged group will significantly enhance the service offering to clients,” deputy managing director of Spotless, Jo Farnik said.

Under the terms of the offer, Programmed shareholders will have the option of receiving a maximum $3 per share in cash and 0.825 Spotless shares per Programmed share.

Spotless has offered two other payment methods, with each alternative offering $6.11 for each Programmed share, a 34.6% premium to Programmed’s closing price on Wednesday.

Spotless said debt facilities will be provided by Goldman Sachs JBWere, but may undertake an equity raising as part of the offer.

The offer is subject to 90% acceptance.

Programmed is a provider of property maintenance, asset management, workforce and marine services, managing buildings in the private and public sector throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Shares in PRG closed significantly higher, up 15.6% to $5.25, while SPT shares fell by 31 cents or 9% to $3.30.

This article is contributed by Australasian Investment Review – (AIR) You can subscribe for their free newsletter at

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