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NZ Business Times December 14 2001

www.nzbt.co.nz

Headlines From the NZBT for Dec 14.

This is the final edition of NZBT for 2001. Merry Xmas From Our Team.

Bendon Bid Reflects Sorry Year Page 1

In a year in which cheap bids have been the order of play on the stock exchange, anger is growing that another iconic New Zealand company will potentially be snatched away from investors at a knock-down price. Institutional fund managers and analysts are fuming that management of the Bendon Group is trying to buyout the company below its market price, and are livid that the price being offered by Bendon¹s management is also well short of even the most conservative of valuations. At least two of Bendon¹s main shareholders have this week told company officials that the price is light, and they should look at other options to add value for shareholders.

Briscoes Float Provides Christmas Cheer Page 1

Investors who took advantage of the Briscoe Group share float will receive an early Christmas present today, when the company lists on the Stock Exchange. Analysts are picking that the retail company¹s shares will list at a healthy premium of at least 20 percent over the $1-a-share they were issued for just last week. That means small shareholders will be sitting on a paper profit of $100 on the minimum parcel of 500 shares they were able to buy. Brokers say the Briscoe Christmas bonus could be much higher.

NZSE Chairman Promotes Trading In Unregulated Market Page 3

A brokerage headed by the chairman of the official stock exchange is spearheading a move to kick-start the equity market by urging companies to seek funding through the so-called Unlisted Market. ABN Amro Craigs, headed by stock exchange chairman Simon Allen, has launched a scheme to support entrepreneurs who want to make use of the Unlisted Market as a stepping-stone to listing on the fully-regulated New Zealand Stock Exchange. ABN concedes there are some concerns about a lack of regulation on the Unlisted Market, but plans to establish the bona-fides of certain companies trading shares there by attaching its name to their scrip.

Econet Seeks Kiwi Cash Page 3

New Zealand¹s newest cellphone network is on the lookout for Kiwi investors to help fund its $250 million launch. Econet Wireless New Zealand, which next year will begin the rollout of the country¹s third network for mobile phones, is part of the Zimbabwean-listed Econet Wireless International (EWI), but Kiwi director Tex Edwards is on the look out for additional funding from local investors. Mr Edwards declined to say whether Econet will seek a public listing, but indicated that an announcement on the future set-up of the company is imminent.

Hunt For Evergreen Cash Moves To Austria page 2

An Auckland-based investigator is now focusing on Austria in an attempt to track down funds lost by New Zealand and Australian investors in the Evergreen international currency trading scam. A spokesman for the investors, Terry Ward, a former managing director for Heinz in Australia, said progress in the search for cash has slowed after investigations were handed over to Austrian and Hungarian police. For this reason, investigator Mark van Leewarden is now in Vienna in a bid to accelerate the process. Mr van Leewarden has previously tracked funds to New York and Switzerland that were part of the Evergreen operations.

F&P Pacifies Institutions Page 2

Fisher & Paykel directors have met with institutional investors in a successful attempt to assuage anger at the way the company sold a stake in its healthcare division last month. One of the institutional investors, who asked not to be identified, said fund managers had met and had ³a full and frank discussion and exchange of views² with directors and management of Fisher & Paykel. ³They acknowledged there were issues with the way the sale was handled and I think we unlikely to see the same sort of thing happen [again] associated with those people,² the source said. The Fisher & Paykel directors have been under fire for letting United States investors and company executives make millions of dollars at the expense of small shareholders.

Farmers Turmoil Continues Page 2

Retail chain Farmers is ³floundering² and running discount sales in order to push up Christmas turnover, according to analysts. The company has taken its eye off the ball as a string of senior management members leave the company on bad terms. UBS Warburg analyst Malcolm Davidson said the main impact of management leaving will be on the company¹s earnings, as there is likely to be less control on costs when experienced staff jump ship. The New Zealand Business Times revealed last week that 13 senior staff out of a team of 15 have left since chief executive Nick Lowe took the helm last year. That includes senior managers in the marketing, technology and finance divisions.

RMG Picks Debt Sector Shake-Up Page 4

The debt management industry faces further a shakeup in the wake of the merger of Australasian financial services giants Baycorp and Data Advantage. Additional consolidation of the industry is inevitable and this might include moves by Receivables Management Group (RMG), according to its chief executive Jim Boult, whose company is a main competitor with Baycorp in New Zealand.

Mysterious Rangitara Reveals All Page 4

Wellington-based investment group Rangitara is coming out from under its veil of mystery, and offering itself as an ethical stock for investors to put in their Christmas stocking. The venerable group will trade on the Unlisted Market, and is expected to attract investors wanting to support a company that both invests in emerging local business and contributes to social causes. Charitable trusts own around two-thirds of Rangitara¹s shares, and the dividends they receive from the company are distributed throughout the community. In the current financial year the company¹s total dividends were $4.6 million, meaning charities received more than $3 million from the group.

Stagecoach Eyes Rail Business Page 6

Stagecoach is keeping its cards close to its chest on whether it plans a full-scale expansion into the rail business. The New Zealand arm of the UK-listed transport company has applied to the Commerce Commission to be a joint venture partner with the Wellington Regional Council (WRC) in running the Tranz Metro services in the capital. The company, which generated almost $60 million in revenue over the past six months, is also a potential partner in the revamping of the Auckland passenger rail services. Ross Martin, executive chairman of Stagecoach Asia Pacific, declined requests for an interview, but its parent company last week indicated in its six monthly results that its New Zealand operation is ³evaluating wider transport developments².


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