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Headlines from the NZ Business Times Fri 23 Nov

Headlines from the New Zealand Business Times Friday November 23

Battle Of Wills Sets Future For Briscoe Group Page 1

Briscoe Group managing director Rod Duke is happy to go shopping with Australian retail guru Gerry Harvey ­ but he is drawing the line at buying a block of land with him. This means property investment is out for the Briscoe Group, but using some trans-Tasman purchasing power to cut costs, and perhaps making a bid for the troubled Hill& Stewart whiteware chain is on the cards for the soon-to-be-listed company. In what is shaping up to be an absorbing battle of wills, the two entertaining businessman have joined forces on the board of Briscoe. Mr Duke said their goal is to expand the business substantially, but in the area of ³retail concepts² rather than anything else like the property sector Mr Harvey favours.

Former Brierley Gang Back Infinity Rights Issue Page 1

A company backed by former Brierley Investment executives, including Paul Collins and Patsy Reddy, has launched a share issue to bail out its struggling technology business. A $6.9 million cash issue by Infinity Group is being underwritten by Active Equities, the investment company controlled by the former Brierley cabal. Most of the funds will be used to repay debt and strengthen Infinity¹s balance sheet ­ including paying back a $2 million loan that Active Equities had to advance the company in July. The extra funding is required because Infinity Group¹s main subsidiary, software and technology services company Infinity Solutions, has been hit by the global technology downturn.

Fonterra Bullying ASB and NZ Post To Quit Page 4

NZ Post and ASB Bank are being forced by the giant Fonterra dairy group to give up their stakes in promising rural retailing and technology group The two companies have been ³asked² to sell their 10 percent stakes in, so that Fonterra can force through a restructuring of the company and merge it with its other technology-based farm services group, Fencepost. Shunting out ASB and NZ Post will also allow Fonterra to use RD1.com¹s 19.9 percent stake in rural services group Wrightson as a springboard for a larger assault on that listed company.

Bank Fees To Rise To Fight Terror Financing Page 5

Bank fees and financial service charges are set to increase as the government moves to clamp down on terrorist funding networks The chief executive of the New Zealand Bankers¹ Association, Errol Lizamore, said compliance with a new bill to track dirty money creates major issues for banks. ³The ramifications are huge,² said Mr Lizamore. ³Plainly you are looking at an absolutely gargantuan task, even if it is just an exercise in countering straight money laundering. But when you bring terrorism in it becomes extraordinarily difficult.²

Fulton Hogan Looks To Expand In Australia Page 6

Dunedin-based works and infrastructure group Fulton Hogan is being linked to discussions involving a bailout of part of one of Australia¹s largest civil engineering groups, Transfield. Fulton Hogan admits it is looking to increase its Australian business. And its expansion intentions come just as Transfield is seeking an equity partner to salvage a weak balance sheet. But David Faulkner, managing director of Fulton Hogan, is reluctant to comment on how the company plans to expand across the Tasman. ³We¹d like to do more in Australia, yes,² Mr Faulkner said.

Hill & Stewart Expected To Be Sold For A Song Page 8

Fisher & Paykel¹s problem child, 10-store appliance chain Hill and Stewart is likely to sell for a song, according to a former manager of the chain. ³Whatever happens, its going to be a fire-sale, I can tell you that² said Ross Kirkland, who managed the chain until two and a half years ago. For a variety of reasons, the chain had not traded successfully for the past decade he said. As reported in last week¹s NZBT, Fisher & Paykel is hoping to sell its interest in the chain by the end of the year. Mr Kirkland said he is aware a number of parties had been looking at buying the chain, including Farmers, Retravision and Harvey Norman.

Tourism Industry Crisis Meeting To Seek Govt. Funding Page 4

A crisis meeting of tourism industry officials will be held next week seek government funding for an urgent campaign to promote New Zealand to Australian and Asian travellers. The Tourism Action Group, which was set up following the September 11 terrorism attacks, wants the government to help fund campaigns to promote New Zealand as a safe and alternative destination. The action group will also urge Tourism Minster Mark Burton to encourage officials in Australia and Japan ­ our two largest sources of tourists ­ to dismantle barriers to tourism that they have set up in the past month.

Insurance Premiums Set To Rise Significantly Page 4

Most local businesses will see their insurance premiums rise 20-30 percent as a result of the cost of the terrorism attacks in the United States. Certain types of insurance will also be impossible to get, at least until the industry works out the long-term impact of the attacks, according to leading industry participants.

Pork Shortage To Make Xmas Ham Prices Unpalatable Page 15

Filling the Christmas hamper is going to be much more expensive this year with the price of hams expected to be more than 30 percent higher than last year. Prices for pig products have followed the general trend of rising meat prices over the last few months and are expected to increase further as demand rises in the lead up to Christmas.

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