Archive | Archive – local business

Snapshot on local business, week to 18 August 2002

14 August 2002

The Reserve Bank left the official cash rate unchanged at 5.75% today.The bank’s acting governor, Dr Rod Carr, said prospects for the international economy had become increasingly clouded since the bank’s May statement, “with sharp falls in equity markets and heightened investor nervousness in the US & elsewhere. Although the New Zealand economy has performed well over the past year, the odds of an international slowdown have increased, which would have adverse consequences for the performance of the New Zealand economy. This renewed global uncertainty occurs at a time when the outlook for inflation has been of concern. Indicators of core inflation have edged up to around 3% following a sustained period of higher-than-average pressure on the country’s productive resources.”

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Snapshot on local business, week to 8 September 2002

8 September 2002
The Takeovers Panel issued a restraining order on Friday to stop GPG Forests Ltd acquiring Rubicon Ltd shares through a partial takeover offer. The panel said it wasn’t satisfied GPG Forests’ offer would comply with the takeovers code because the code doesn’t permit offers to be made in the alternative. The order expires on Friday 27 September. A second issue was whether the order GPG obtained to stop Perry Corp from disposing/agreeing to dispose of its Rubicon shares would make the GPG offer non-compliant. The panel decided this wouldn’t make an otherwise-compliant offer non-compliant. The panel’s determinations & restraining order are published in full on its website.

4 September 2002

The 3 councils holding 10.7% of United Networks Ltd through the United Networks Shareholders’ Society — North Shore & Waitakere City Councils and Rodney District Council — have varied the trust deed so they can sell their stake, avoiding the possibility of being locked into less valuable a minority on sale of the major holding.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 10 June 2001

Latest: Forex eats F&P profit, Brandes lifts Telecom stake, Christchurch gondola sold, manufacturers switch from exporting, Britomart bus stops go walkabout, student loan figures, Tasman Agriculture deal goes through.

6 June 2001

Fisher & Paykel Industries Ltd increased its March-year operating surplus before unusuals and tax by 10.4% to $92.2 million on revenue up 13.6% to $929 million, then slashed its bottom-line return by 80% to $11 million after taking into account $73 million of unusuals, including $64.2 million of unrealised losses on forex instruments.
F&P operations perform well and outlook to separation strong

San Diego-based Brandes Investment Partner LP, which has been campaigning, unsuccessfully so far, to change the shape of the Jardine Matheson empire, has increased its holdings in Telecom NZ Ltd from 9.8% to 10.1% through transactions at the end of May.

The New Zealand Experience Ltd has concluded the sale of the Christchurch gondola business and assets (but not land) to Christchurch tramway operator Armada Tourism Ltd. The transaction was announced on 30 April.

Northern manufacturers have switched from exporting to domestic sales, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) concludes from its latest business conditions survey. Total sales rose 1%, 9% of respondents are looking to take on more staff, but investment in equipment and training has been slashed.

The Britomart bus terminal moves into side streets up to 1km away from Sunday 17 June — and the temporary move will last for two years while the new Britomart interchange is built. Even then, the Britomart bus stops will stay on the street, just a little closer to each other. The bus services affected are from Waitakere City, the Hibiscus Coast, eastern and southern suburbs and the hospitals run. Their city stops will move to Commerce, Wyndham, Wellesley St East and West, Shortland St and Victoria St East.

Student loan figures supplied by Revenue Minister Michael Cullen to the New Zealand University Students Association show the number of borrowers up 14% to 317,394, the biggest loan is up from about $140,000 to $167,000, but the bulk of borrowing remains under $15,000 — 72.25% in March this year compared to 71.38% at April 2000 and 73.59% at June 1999.

Tasman Agriculture Ltd’s shareholders approved the 43c special dividend and repurchase of up to 40% of its shares, the deal allowing Brierley Investments Ltd to exit the company. Its 66% has been taken by Dairy Holdings Ltd (44%), associated with South Canterbury farmer and businessman Alan Pye and Timaru accountant Allan Hubbard, and by Southern Capital Ltd (22%). Under the farm sales programme begun last year, Tasman Agriculture has unconditionally sold 43 properties for $145.3 million, for 22.5% more than their aggregate May 2000 valuation, and at an average $16,000/ha. That leaves it with a portfolio of 21 dairy units, with May 2000 valuations of $66 million. The company is completing a further three dairy conversions for $9.71 million.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 9 March 2003

9 March 2003

The Commerce Commission has cleared Southern Capital Ltd to acquire 100% of the shares in Hirepool Ltd from Owens Group Ltd. Hirepool has 22 branches in Auckland, the Waikato, Christchurch & Wellington. Southern Capital also owns half of Hire Equipment Group Ltd.

3 March 2003

Westpac Bank’s chief economist & head of government business, Adrian Orr, will return to the Reserve Bank as head of its new financial stability department, which will build the bank’s capacity to monitor the financial system to reduce the probability of shocks and increase the system’s capacity to absorb shocks. Mr Orr will also become assistant governor. He managed the Reserve Bank’s economics department from 1997-2000. Rod Carr, the deputy governor who held the top role while a replacement was found for former governor Don Brash, is off to become chief executive of Jade Software Corp Ltd.

Auckland Regional Council intends to set a general rate across the region of $37/$100,000 capital value, a biosecurity rate of about $3/$100,000 land value, and variable rates for transport according to the local body area and whether the property has access to passenger transport. Those with access in Auckland will pay $47/$100,000 capital value, Franklin $22, Manukau $42, North Shore $35, Papakura $44, Rodney $33 & Waitakere $56. The regional council will charge its rates entirely separately from local bodies for the 1st time this year because of legislative changes. The council will make its final decisions on its annual plan & proposed rates on 24 March. The annual plan will go out to public consultation from 31 March to 3 May.

Opus International Consultants has beaten 3 other contenders to become preferred tenderer for the detailed investigations to decide how Auckland’s eastern transport corridor should be developed. It’s the 2nd phase of the joint Auckland-Manukau-Transit NZ project. The 1st phase, a strategy report completed last year, showed the corridor should be developed but didn’t assess the effects or go into detail on the form of construction. Opus will do the scheme & environmental effects assessments to develop a preferred option. Project director Grant Kirby said the investigations should take about 12 months.

Producers’ output prices fell 0.1% while input prices rose 0.3% in the December quarter, Statistics NZ said on Friday. On the earnings downside, the dairy product manufacturing index fell 4.7% from lower prices for products other than milk, cream & icecream, and the meat & meat-product manufacturing index fell 3.6%.

Statistics NZ estimated the January merchandise trade deficit at $399 million after both exports & imports fell. The deficit as a percentage of exports, 19.6%, was the largest January deficit since 1986. Imports fell $84 million to $2.439 billion, exports fell $222 million to $2.04 billion as the NZ dollar rose against all currencies. For the January year the deficit was $1.451 billion, compared to a $610 million surplus the previous year and a $1.369 billion deficit in the January 2001 year. Bills will be sent out between 7 July & 18 August.
Website: Auckland Regional Council

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Snapshot on local business, week to 1 February 2004

30 January 2004

Kiwi Forests Group Ltd said today it couldn’t satisfy the financing condition to buy the Tarawera forestry right from Fletcher Challenge Forests Ltd for $165 million. However Kiwi, The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Viking Global NZ Ltd will proceed with the remaining $560 million-worth purchase of Fletcher’s forest estate. Fletcher will turn back to negotiating with the previous bidder, The Campbell Group. Shareholders will meet in Auckland on Friday 20 February to vote on the sale.

29 January 2004

Vending Technologies Ltd said it intended to establish a franchise business around the Shop24 convenience-store system it bought in December from New Distribution Systems NV of Belgium. Franchisees will be able to acquire & operate automated convenience stores in selected prime locations including transport hubs, educational facilities & high-traffic retail areas. Shop24 will continue to operate as a separate business under Vending Technologies’ ownership and will continue to service established corporate chains of retailers in France, Belgium, Austria, Britain & the Netherlands.

Carter Holt Harvey Ltd wrote down the $2.9 billion book value of its forests by $876 million – 30% – in the December quarter but said it had a solid year. It used a 7.4% (real) discount rate and $76/m³ assumed weighted average price over the valuation period. Operating earnings before interest & tax (ebit) fell 5% to $315 million, primarily because of the Kinleith mill industrial action & lower forest sales volumes. After the forest writedown, $17 million of mill closure costs & $25 million of other restructuring costs, Carter Holt’s net loss for the year was $656 million, compared to a $137 million profit in 2002, on revenue down 5.8% to $3.9 billion. Chief executive Peter Springford said the company achieved productivity gains in all sectors.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 24 December 2000

Latest: Jaffe’s Australian company wound up, F&P to split.

22 December 2000

Eric Isadore Jaffe’s Australian company, Industrial Banking Corporation Ltd, has been placed in liquidation on the application of the Australian Securities & Investments Commission — unexpectedly, because the commission had the application down for a hearing in February. The New Zealand assets are already in liquidation, with the $338,000 proceeds held in court. Mr Jaffe, 79, and his wife are the occupants of one, and Jaffe companies the former owners of four units in a block of five Ring Terrace townhouses overlooking Westhaven. Mr Jaffe also faces bankruptcy on the application of the Bank of New Zealand.

19 December 2000

Fisher & Paykel has decided to split in two, after a prolonged self-examination, plenty of external advice and with the fruition likely at the end of 2001 or early in 2002. F&P Healthcare will seek listing in New Zealand, on Nasdaq and in Australia, 20% of its shares will be offered in the US and the F&P industrial company (another of those Newcos) will hold 20%. F&P Appliances and Finance will fall into the Newco company, to list in New Zealand and Australia. The US listing should give shareholders a cash payment as well as their interests in the two companies. All well and good until you get to this silly statement: “As a consequence of this proposal, we are subject to the Securities Laws of the US and NZ. These laws limit what we can discuss with our shareholders until we have completed the separation.” This is the same as the nonsensical New Zealand securities law which prevents “advertising” (which some claim to include news stories) pre-prospectus, effectively ensuring insider trading lives, and lives well.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 18 March 2001

Latest: Takeovers panel seeks comment on exemptions, Air NZ traffic up, court approves Fletcher separation, warning on overseas share deals.

18 March 2001

The Takeovers Panel issued a request on Friday for public comment by 9 April on draft class exemptions from the fundamental rule of the takeovers code, which comes into force on 1 July. The class exemptions will provide a standard form of exemption for common classes of transactions, reducing the need for specific exemptions, panel chairman John King said. Key exemption areas are companies’ buybacks and allotments of voting securities, and transactions involving six categories: lenders and receivers, proxies, sharebrokers, underwriters, nominee companies and bare trustees, and executors, trustees and administrators of deceased estates.

17 March 2001

Air New Zealand improved its passenger load factor 9.2% to 79.2% in January (over January 2000), revenue passenger kilometres flown (RPK) 13.7% to 3.4 billion, available seat kilometres flown (ASK) by 4.1% to 4.3 billion. For the first seven months of the June 2001 year, the airline’s passenger load factor is up 2.1% to 73.9%, RPK up 7.4% to 23.7 billion and ASK up 5.3% to 32 billion.

The High Court sanctioned separation of the remaining three Fletcher Challenge divisions yesterday, allowing sale of Energy to Shell/Apache, Fletcher Building to be a stand-alone company, the group name to carry on through Fletcher Challenge Forests as an another stand-alone, and establishment of a new company, Rubicon, to take remnants of the group and start new-directions business. The old stocks will be quoted for the last time on 23 March, enabling the new ones to come out on Monday, 26 March.

The Securities Commission issued a warning on Friday to people who have sent money to overseas brokers to buy shares — typically brokers in the Philippines or Indonesia who have not been contactable once the money has been collected. The commission’s senior operations executive, Norman Miller, said New Zealanders were being contacted by Geoffrey Stevens, of Marlborough Acquisitions Inc, Denver, a firm not licensed as a broker dealer in the US, and invited to contact a referee, Securities & Registration Compliance, which the New Zealand commission’s inquiries showed was not a regulatory agency. Standard warning: Sweet and unbelievable deal.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 4 November 2001

31 October 2001

Shamrock Holdings of California Inc has taken a 16.19% stake in Nuplex Industries Ltd for $25.1 million at an average $2.65.

Force Corp Ltd, now 50.2% owned by Sky City NZ Ltd, has been granted a stock exchange waiver from the requirement to file its annual report by today, 31 October. The delay is to enable Force to include details of its capital restructuring. Force will get the annual report out by 12 November.

Holders of 57.5% of Fletcher Building Ltd October 2006 capital notes (rolled over from October 2001) elected to take shares but have been paid cash instead. The total involved was $20.4 million.

29 October 2001

Dorchester Pacific Ltd subsidiary Dorchester Funds Management has bought the old Reeves Moses financial advisory business from Harts Accountants of Brisbane, which had renamed it Harts Portfolio Management Ltd. It has offices in Auckland, Tauranga, Taupo, Napier & Wellington. Dorchester managing director Brent King said it would complement the group’s investment in Equity Investment Advisers & Sharebrokers Ltd, NZ Investor Monthly and Direct Broking.

Cullen Investments Ltd subsidiary Logan Corp Ltd has 73.18% of Pacific Retail Group Ltd, of which just over 5% is a currently non-beneficial interest gained when Platinum Retail Ltd (headed by Mark Hotchin, nowadays of Cullen-controlled Elders Finance Ltd) accepted Logan’s takeover offer. An Andersen appraisal accepted by Pacific Retail’s independent directors found the offer was unfair.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 15 June 2003

14 June 2003

Mike Pero Mortgages managing director Mike Pero has bought back the 50% of his company, Mike Pero NZ Ltd, held by South Canterbury Finance Ltd for the past 7 years. South Canterbury Finance director Humphry Rolleston will continue as a Mike Pero NZ director. Mr Pero left Auckland in 1990 and established his mortgage company in Christchurch. It expanded into the Auckland market in 1997. Mike Pero Mortgages has processed more than $5 billion of loans for 40,000 customers and now processes close to $1 billion of loans/year.

Toll Holdings Ltd increased its offer for Tranz Rail Holdings Ltd by 20c to 95c/share on Friday, and removed a number of conditions from its offer. Toll managing director Paul Little said Toll wanted to own & operate Tranz Rail long-term, whether it included tracks or not. Toll is up against a Government bid for 35% at 65c/share which will entail expansion & upgrading of the rail network. The Government bid, with some amendments, looks better for the nation, Toll’s bid better for share sellers.

Tranz Rail Holdings Ltd rejected criticism by the Road Transport Forum in a road freight report, saying the forum’s characterisation of falling rail patronage & satisfaction levels was grossly inaccurate. The forum looked at 4 of Tranz Rail’s 6000 customers. Tranz Rail managing director Michael Beard said rail forwarding increased 20% in the past year because on-time departures & arrivals rose to 85%, transit times improved (the average journey cut by 2½ hours), cargo-handling errors were cut by 90% and customer satisfaction rose from 32% to 78%. Mr Beard said the average cost of using rail fell 23% over the past 10 years. “Road does offer faster transits & more flexible access and is priced accordingly. That is why it is important that both road & rail are competitive and that there is a level playing field so both can provide appropriate price & service to the different market segments,” Mr Beard said. He added that the forum report failed to mention the growth of road transport depended on taxpayer subsidies and industry cross-subsidisation.

Auckland City Council has begun a new public policy & peer review processfor its funding system to make its spending procedures more effective & efficient. Criteria have been set to analyse capital spending proposals over $500,000 & operating expenditure proposals over $80,000. The review process will also examine the rationale used to determine council involvement in a proposal, benchmarking outcomes against the guidelines of key strategic documents such as the community outcomes plan and long-term council community plan.

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Snapshot on local business, week to 21 July 2002

18 July 2002

Fletcher Challenge Forests Ltd said independent appraiser Grant Samuel & Associates Ltd had found its proposed acquisition of the Central North Island Forest Partnership assets was fair & reasonable. Shareholders will vote on whether to proceed with the deal on 13 August. The notice of meeting & explanatory memo will be sent to shareholders on Monday 22 July.

15 July 2002

The consumers price index rose 1% in the June 2002 quarter, following 0.6% rises in the December 2001 and March 2002 quarters. Statistics NZ said the latest rise reflected 10% increases in prices for petrol and international air travel, partly offset by falls in food prices, especially for fresh vegetables. Statistics NZ said it cost 1.3% more to run a household after electricity prices rose 1.9% & furniture prices 3.1%. Housing prices & rents both rose 0.7%. On an annual basis, the CPI is 2.8% higher than a year earlier.

Fletcher Challenge Forests Ltd has secured commitments for a new 4-year $US600 million loan facility so it can buy the assets of the Central North Island Forest Partnership. The transaction is subject to shareholder approval at a meeting on Tuesday 13 August, and other conditions. The Bank of New Zealand and HSBC arranged the facility, with participation by the National Bank, ANZ, Rabobank, Citibank, Westpac and Credit Suisse. Shareholders will get their notice of meeting, explanatory memo and independent appraisal by Grant Samuel & Associates Ltd early next week.

Entries close for the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority’s annual EnergyWise awards on Friday 26 July. The 10 sector awards and the supreme award will be announced in Auckland on Thursday 26 September. Entry forms are available on the authority’s website.

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