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Whisper Tech shareholding change

Whisper Tech shareholding change
6 July 2006

Christchurch based electricity network company Orion New Zealand has announced the sale of the majority of its interest in Whisper Tech - the Christchurch based developer and manufacturer of small scale co-generation units.

Orion has sold approximately 45% of Whisper Tech to the other main shareholder in the business, Meridian Energy, for $12m leaving Orion with a 5% interest in the business.

Orion CEO Roger Sutton said “We have elected to sell most of our stake in this great homegrown technology business to another New Zealand owned company as we believe that company, Meridian Energy, is better placed to take Whisper Tech forward. Whisper Tech has achieved remarkable success since Orion first invested in it in 1995 and we continue to believe that it has outstanding potential. That belief is reflected in the fact that we have retained a minority 5% holding in the business so that we can continue to benefit from its future gains."

Mr Sutton said “The sale of the majority of our stake for $12m recoups the investment we have made in Whisper Tech over the last three years. Unfortunately it is not sufficient to recover the total early development costs (around $15m). However, as we have previously written off all of our Whisper Tech investment costs up to 31 March 2006 we will record a surplus on the sale of this investment in the 2007 financial year.

“Reducing our shareholding in Whisper Tech, and last year’s sale of our investment in listed Australian renewable energy company Energy Developments Limited for a profit of approximately $17m, is part of our ongoing investment harvest strategy."

Meridian Energy Chief Executive Keith Turner says the company is excited about the prospects for Whisper Tech, which he described as a New Zealand-developed technology capable of delivering energy efficiencies at the same time as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a huge market worldwide for technologies that have these attributes and we believe that Whisper Tech is a unique product that has the potential to be adopted on a significant scale,” he said.

Dr Turner says that this is yet another example of commercialising New Zealand research and development on a world stage. “We have excellent world class capability in our universities and research institutions and are very pleased to be working with a talented team at Whisper Tech to commercialise this technology and strive towards making the company a reference point for New Zealand engineering and technology expertise”.

Dr Turner says in the short term Whisper Tech will be looking to establish manufacturing capacity that can deliver the product in a quality, volume and price competitive with traditional forms of home heating.


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