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Of Bulls & Bears

Friday 30th June 2000

Text too small?

Eventures site definitely low tech

One of the greatest things about the internet, so enthusiasts say, is the infinite capacity to store information that can be accessed at the click of a mouse button anywhere in the world. Given this, one would think hot new technology float eVentures New Zealand would be keen to demonstrate this by offering as much material about itself to customers and shareholders as it could. However, Ferdinand was disappointed when he went to the company's website this week and clicked on the button that took visitors to the investor relations section. Rather than obtain all he needed to know and more about the company he found a single page with the following text: "eVentures New Zealand Limited listed as a public company on 9 May 2000. eVentures closed at the end of the first day at 66c, up 1c from 65c at the opening, and 6c higher than the issue price of 60c." As well as being brief, this information is a little out of date since the company's share price has since slumped 24% from its first- day closing price.

Ockers expand into Baycorp

Somebody in Australia likes Baycorp Holdings. Merchant bank Deutsche Australia this week bumped up its stake in the credit reporting and debt collection company from 15.6% to 16.7%. The bank first appeared on the Baycorp register in April, when it would have paid $10.50-$11 for its initial 15.6% stake. The latest purchase has been at considerably lower prices, suggesting the holder or holders of the shares were implementing a spot of averaging down. Lately Baycorp has picked up again, justifying that move. The big question is who owns the shares. Substantial securityholder notices show Deutsche Australia is a non-beneficial owner so it is acting for an unknown client or clients. Considering Baycorp's share register is wide open, that most of its major shareholders are institutional investors and none bar Deutsche hold more than 8%, Ferdinand will be interested to see if Deutsche's stake creeps up any further.

Shamrock tries its luck with Nuplex

Shamrock Holdings of California, the investment company of the Disney empire, is proving less of an opportunist than many people thought. It surfaced a few years ago when Brierley Investments looked on its deathbed and, after buying a stake, offered a "rescue" package that was immensely favourable to Shamrock. When this was rejected, it promptly sold its shares and went away. Before long it appeared on the register of resins company Nuplex and investors braced themselves for some BIL-like proposal. However, Shamrock has been happy to sit on its minority stake and take its dividends. After buying 5% in late 1998 it moved up to 7% last year and this week has revealed its stake has more than doubled to 16%. Shamrock is showing a modest gain on its earlier investments and may be looking for more of the same after a 20% decline in the Nuplex share price this year.

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