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Farewell Energy, hello Rubicon

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Friday 23rd March 2001

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The market's focus on Monday is likely to turn to the new and stand-alone Fletcher stocks following the exit of Energy (NZSE: FEG) from the NZSE.

After a fairly wild ride the past year for the Fletcher stable, Energy traded at over $9.85 on its last day, while Forests and Building remained within the same range seen for the past few months.

For many investors the dark horse is undoubtedly Rubicon.

The initial owners of Rubicon will be Energy shareholders at the close of business on Friday, who will receive one Rubicon share for every Energy share.

Rubicon has a net tangible asset backing of 78 cents per share, but how the market values it on Monday remains to be seen.

Although the company is being pitched as a forestry and horticulture biotech stock, it also owns the Challenge service station network, South American forestry operations, and shares in Fletcher Challenge Forests (NZSE: FFS).

Market commentators have speculated that once Forests and Building (NZSE: FLB) are trading from under the shadow of the Fletcher Challenge letter structure they too may attract a premium because they will be an easier takeover prospect than previously.

However neither company has had much to boast about in recent times. Fletcher Building lost $41 million in the half-year to the end of December and Fletcher Forests lost $498 million in the same period, primarily on a write-down of the Central North Island Forestry Partnership.

Capstone shares - which Energy shareholders will also receive - have been showing upward gains in past weeks although are nowhere near the heady highs of US$90 seen six months ago.

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