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Airline's shares on hold till Tuesday

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Friday 28th September 2001

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Air New Zealand (NZSE: AIRVA) shares are unlikely to be traded until Tuesday at the earliest following the company's request for a trading suspension.

The request from the airline came late Friday afternoon and followed a trading halt put in place earlier in the day by the Market Surveillance Panel.

The panel had suspended the airline's shares while it investigated whether Brierley Investments (NZSE: BRY) boss, Greg Terry, had told reporters that the airline's shares were worth 60 cents.

It was the second time in two days that the airline's shares were put in limbo. On Wednesday trading was stopped for a few hours while alleged 'don't sell' advice from Prime Minister Helen Clark was investigated.

Air NZ says its Friday suspension request was made "in the best interests of the market until a comprehensive announcement can be made."

Acting chairman, Jim Farmer, says he acknowledges that the market is anxious to obtain further information to establish some certainty about the company's recapitalisation plans.

"That remains the objective of current discussions, but those discussions could themselves be prejudiced by premature, incomplete disclosure."

Dr Farmer says discussions would continue over the weekend and would have to be completed before any announcement could be made by the company, expected to be early next week.

In a statement Dr Farmer went on to say that he is keen to clear up a 'very misleading report' that the airline had failed to repay an ANZ Bank loan due last Thursday.

"The facts are that the loan was replaced by a new loan facility, agreed with the ANZ Bank. The company has been in close discussions with all its banks following the write-off of its investment in Ansett Holdings on 13 September and none of the company's lenders has recalled any of their loans to Air New Zealand."

Dr Farmer also says he doesn't know of any connection between the ANZ Bank loan and the resignation by the chairman of ANZ, Mr Charles Goode, from the Air New Zealand board on the day that the renewal was agreed.

The Market Surveillance Panel will make a decision at close of business Monday on whether or not to further suspend trading in the airline's shares.

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