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NZ Funds Takes 6.5% Stake in Advantage Auckland


New Zealand Funds Takes 6.5% Stake in Advantage Auckland -

Thursday, 8 July 1999 - Advantage Group Limited (NZSE: ADV) today announced that New Zealand Funds Management Ltd has acquired approximately 2.79 million shares in Advantage Group Limited, taking its total investment in Advantage to approximately 6.5%.

The transactions, completed separately over the past few days, include a parcel of 1.45 million shares formerly held by Romney (No 11) Limited, a subsidiary of Rangatira Limited, together with a parcel of 1.172 million shares formerly held by Advantage director Nick Gordon. Mr Gordon retains a significant investment in Advantage through his holding in Wiltshire Technology Holdings Ltd, a company majority owned by Advantage Chairman, Evan Christian. Mr Gordon will use the capital released by this transaction to fund a $2.52 million acquisition of 1.5 million at $1.68 per share in Pacific Retail Group. Mr Gordon remains a Director of both Advantage Group and Pacific Retail Group and is actively involved in the development of joint initiatives involving the two companies.

"We like the strategic direction Advantage is taking, especially its vision of becoming a leader in the embryonic listed technology sector," said New Zealand Funds Equities Manager, Tim Mitchell. "The [technology] sector is a key part of our investment focus. "Successful implementation in this space relies heavily on attracting and retaining good people. We believe Advantage has the right formula here. They have a pool of intellectual property in software design, and the focus to be a first mover in business-to-business e-commerce and certain consumer-to-business e-commerce initiatives, leveraging off a now profitable core business.

"The field of e-commerce is growing rapidly worldwide. The success of Advantage will be an important step in encouraging further local investment. New Zealand's economic future will increasingly rely on such companies. I hope to find more such opportunities," said Mr Mitchell.

"We welcome further institutional investor interest in the company," Mr Christian said today. "The investments endorse our confidence in the company's growth prospects within the e-commerce sector." "E-commerce now represents over 60% of Advantage's revenues and is tagged as the foundation for the company's future growth," says Advantage CEO Greg Cross. "We are assisting companies to move their bricks and mortar business on line and to develop innovative new web-centric business models. E-commerce is the fastest growing commercial sector worldwide and Advantage is one of the few listed New Zealand companies structured to participate in it."

Recently Advantage announced that Royal & SunAlliance has taken a $6.6 million stake in the company, taking its holding to 9.28%. Advantage has tagged this capital for e-commerce acquisitions and initiatives. This announcement follows other recent announcements enhancing Advantage Group's capabilities. In May it agreed to acquire the major business interests of Computer Enhancements, New Zealand's leading supplier of barcode-based scanning and portable data acquisition solutions. In early June it acquired the interests of PEC Retail Solutions, a supplier of world-leading retail automation software solutions to the global oil industry. A shareholders' meeting will be held tomorrow, 9 July, at Advantage's Auckland offices to confirm these acquisitions.

Company Background

Advantage Group Limited, an NZSE listed company, is a leading supplier of advanced electronic commerce and transaction processing solutions in the retail, oil, banking, health and hospitality sectors in New Zealand, Australia and throughout the southern hemisphere. It provides the hardware, software, transaction processing and funds transfer capabilities to enable complete e-commerce solutions. ENDS

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