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For some it was the year of the big OE

Friday 15th December 2000

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Behind the doom and gloom headlines a raft of companies this year hit the overseas expansion trail, some at breakneck speed.

Executives clocked up thousands of hours of air travel, setting up greenfields ventures, buying companies and assets, setting up offices, and marketing their products.

  • Telecom went head-to-head with Telstra and Optus in Australia, spending $2 billion buying AAPT. It also launched the $2.2 billion Southern Cross cable, in which it has a half share, bought a 10% stake in Independent Newspapers Ltd for $165 million, and launched the E-solutions b2b e-commerce joint venture with Microsoft and EDS.
  • Air New Zealand took 100% ownership of Ansett, paying News Ltd $A580 million ($744 million) and raising $284 million through a rights issue. A further payment in cash or shares equivalent to 10.5% of Air New Zealand's shares on issue in February is payable in two to four years.
  • Kiwi Co-operative Dairies spent $269 million on a controlling stake in Western Australian dairy consumer products company Peters & Brownes and the New Zealand Dairy Board is in the final stages of a deal to take a 25% stake in Bonlac Foods and assimilate its consumer foods business.
  • Meat processor and marketer Affco set up a South American office and announced plans to export Argentinian lamb to Europe.
  • Tower bought Australian financial planning group Bridges for $A168 million ($212 million) and took a 25% stake in Financial Services Partners. Like Lion Nathan it will soon move its head office to Australia where most of its business is done.
  • Baycorp set up an Australian joint venture, Alliance Group, with Data Advantage and then spent $A45.6 million ($61 million) buying a 10% stake in Data.
  • Nuplex continued down the Australian expansion trail, buying Dulux Resins for $A13.7 million ($17.5 million), National Starch's polymer business, and waste disposer Medihold International for $A20.9 million ($26.7 million). More than 70% of its business is now in Australia.
  • The Warehouse took its big red barns across the Tasman, paying $A105 million ($135 million) for the Clint's Crazy Bargains and Silly Solly's discount chains.
  • Sanford bought a 15% stake in Canada's Fishery Products International for around $26 million. With an ungeared balance sheet it hinted more acquisitions are on the cards.
  • Carter Holt Harvey cashed up in Chile, pulling in more than $2.4 billion from the Copec sale. Carter is keeping its powder dry for now but Australian acquisitions are likely.

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