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Investor nerves calmed at Aquaria 21 meeting

By Nicholas Bryant

Friday 10th March 2000

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Aquaria 21 shareholders will have some time to wait before finding out the future direction of their investment but at least they now know a B2B e-commerce venture is on the cards.

That format was the most attractive, Aquaria 21 managing director Ken Wikely told shareholders at a special meeting of the company in Auckland yesterday.

But still no single option had been identified.

The meeting cleared the way for new investment to take place by passing two crucial resolutions.

One was for the sale of Aquaria's core asset, Shanghai Aquarium, to Australia's Bliss Corporation, for which the company will receive 118 million A14c Bliss shares.

An extra 7 million A14c shares come along with the deal for Bliss to continue construction on the Hyundai Beach Aquarium in Korea which Aquaria had begun.

That gives Aquaria a 32% shareholding in Bliss with 125 million of Bliss's 318 million issued shares.

The second resolution was for Aquaria's directors to be authorised to sell up to 100% of the shareholding in Bliss on such terms as they saw fit to free up cash for a new venture.

Those shares would be sold down over the next two or three months to strategic buyers in Sydney which Aquaria had been dealing with before the Bliss merger, Mr Wikely said.

He was confident that process would be, if not a formality in the near future, a certainty once Bliss's aquarium package was correctly valued by the market.

Operating aquariums Bliss will hold after the sale will be Shanghai and the Melbourne and Maloolaba, Gold Coast, businesses in Australia.

The extra capital Bliss would be able to provide would see the Korean venture finished within 15 months, Mr Wikely said.

Having admitted e-commerce was the company's future course and settled some shareholder nerves in the process, Mr Wikely then scoffed at rumours the Aquaria cash would be used to list shareholder Eric Watson's e-commerce retailer Flying Pig.

"I couldn't honestly say at no stage [would Flying Pig be an option] but I don't like it at the moment ... there are better things available than Flying Pig's business-to-consumer model," Mr Wikely said.

Bliss Corporation, the cashed up shell of a listed engineering company, is hurriedly producing a prospectus for its new business and hopes to be listed on the Sydney Stock Exchange within six weeks.

It will list as Aquaria 21 International.

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