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Company Briefs

Friday 15th September 2000

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Former Qantas deputy chief executive Gary Toomey is the new boss of Air New Zealand. Mr Toomey joined Qantas in 1993 and became deputy chief executive two years ago. He will take up his responsibilities heading the combined Air New Zealand-Ansett Australia group management in December.

Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) has sold its New Zealand Plastic Products business to Pacific Equity Partners. CHH said the sale was at a premium to book value. The business, to be renamed Vertex, includes facilities at Albany, Hamilton, Hastings and Naenae and is a specialist in rigid plastic packaging for the industrial, food and food beverage service industries.

Restaurant Brands has reported its seventh consecutive quarter of sales growth, with total sales up 7.4% on last year. Restaurant Brands chief executive Jim Collier said the results highlighted the increasing success of the company's strategy of growing non-KFC sales including its Starbucks coffee chain which has been a star performer.

Internet investment company eVentures announced its first interim result, an operating loss of $2.6 million for the six months to June 30. Chairman Craig Heatley said the loss was in line with budget. In May the company raised $30 million in an IPO.

The legal battle between Fletcher Challenge Energy and Eldercare cooled down this week when the parties announced they would negotiate several matters before the High Court. Among matters resolved under the agreement is an insider trading action taken by Eldercare against the Fletcher Energy subsidiary Southern Petroleum. The two companies will negotiate to determine the value of Eldercare's preference shareholding in Southern Petroleum.

Baycorp Holdings has acquired a 9.9% stake in Australian company Data Advantage. Baycorp's shareholding has been built over several months, paying between $A4-4.90 per share. Baycorp said the purchases were consistent with its joint venture agreement with Data Advantage and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, designed to further develop the Australasian market for financial risk management services.

The Commerce Commission has cleared Etex Holding BV to acquire all the shares in Milnes Holdings. Etex is a Dutch company, part of the group that owns Marley New Zealand. Milnes Holdings is an Australian company that owns, in New Zealand, PVC pipe manufacturer Keyplas. The commission said the remaining competitor in the PVC market, Iplex Pipelines New Zealand, had substantial market share and would constrain a merged Marley/Keyplas.

Retirement village operator Metlifecare said despite a half-year loss of $1.3 million to June 30 it is on track for a full-year profit. The interim result was based on operating revenues of $37.1 million, compared with $26.4 million last year. Costs and abnormals related to the company's ongoing restructuring programme and resolved issues on two development sites, the company said.

Hellaby Holdings announced a reduced after-tax profit of $11 million, down from $14 million last year. The company focused on its improved core earnings which resulted in an increased net operating surplus before interest and depreciation of $21.6 million, up from $18.8 million last year. The company's pre-tax trading surplus was also up from $12.7 million to $13.6 million.

Southern Cross has been turned down a second time by the Commerce Commission for clearance to acquire rival Aetna Health. Southern Cross went back to the commission saying it would sell a number of medical insurance policies of Aetna members. But the commission said it still had doubts because the merger would remove Southern Cross' biggest competitor.

Colonial Motor Company made $7.1 million after tax this year, up from $5.74 million for the year to June 30. Operating profit after tax increased 20% to $7.85 million. Its revenue of $292 million was slightly down on the previous year after losing Auckland dealerships that are part of the Auckland Auto Collection Group.

Contact Energy's management welcomed the government's announcement it will give more money to the flooded town of Alexandra. It followed last week's news that Contact and the government would jointly fund a $13.6 million package to purchase flooded homes and build flood-protection barriers.

Genesis Research and Wrightson have announced a strategic alliance to work together on applications for commercial biotechnology in developing better agricultural products. The firms will undertake genomic research into pasture grasses. They will focus first on specialised DNA databases for two Wrightson ryegrass varieties to develop better pasture management and productivity.

Challenger International is sizing up acquisition opportunities after delivering a record profit result. Managing director Bill Ireland said strong growth in all product sectors helped generate a 142% rise in net profit to $A80.6 million, up from $A33.3 million last year. Last year Challenger International bought Coronet Asset Management.

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