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Company Briefs

Friday 7th April 2000

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Power and gas lines company United Networks lifted its 1999 profit forecast from $97.4 million to $99.2 million, citing the acquisition of Orion's gas pipeline assets.

Shell, OMV and Todd Petroleum signed a joint-venture agreement for the development of the Maari oil field off the Taranaki coast. Development costs for the 40-50 million barrel field are expected to be about $250 million.

Montana sold its Go International travel company to Australia's Pacific International, gaining $6.4 million over book value.

Credit-rating agency Moody's upgraded Carter Holt Harvey's senior unsecured debt from Baa3 to Baa2. That created renewed interest in the stock and started rumours it was prime for takeover. CHH then put its plastics-packaging business on the block as "non-core." Polarcup, a subsidiary of multinational Huhtamaki Van Leer Group, has applied for Commerce Commission clearance to buy it.

The 19 Sportsgirl clothing outlets will close this month after failing to attract a buyer. About 80, mostly part-time, jobs will be lost. Administrator Ferrier Hodgson said the stores would be offered individually when stock had been sold.

Nufarm, the former Fernz, has tightened rules on directors' share dealing. Chairman Kerry Hoggard resigned as chairman of Fletcher Challenge last year over a share-trading scandal and this week paid $58,000 compensation to share sellers.

Telecom will distribute the services of Concert, a joint venture between British Telecom and AT&T, in Australia and New Zealand. Concert offers end-to-end voice, data and internet services to multinationals.

GPG has a 44% stake in Australia's Joe White Maltings following a $A3.25 a share offer for half the company.

Fletcher Challenge Energy and partner Unocal will next week drill the first of five exploration wells at the new Brunei prospect. The project will cost FCE $24 million on a dry-hole basis.

Investor Eric Watson bought a 19.9% stake in Australian online bookmaker Canbet for a reported $5 million. Canbet listed on the Australian Stock Exchange this week and expects to list in New Zealand this year.

Clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson lifted February first-half profit to $5.9 million, from $5.6 million a year ago.

Investor Savoy Equities lost $2.5 million in the four months to December, blaming the wrap-up of some investments and activities. Chief executive Kerry Haycock said the company would concentrate on technology investments in the Asia- Pacific region.

Utilities investor Infratil invoked a rarely used Companies Act provision to force NGC to buy back 6.7% of its own shares. Infratil claimed it had been disadvantaged by NGC's Transalta acquisition.

Scott Technology boosted February first-half profit 17% to $1.55 million. Chairman Graeme Marsh said business was expected to slow in the US but Europe and Asia were buoyant. Several major contracts were at an advanced stage.

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