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Company Briefs

Friday 28th April 2000

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Fletcher Challenge Paper's 51%-owned Fletcher Challenge Canada reported a doubling of March-quarter net earnings, to $C23.2 million ($15.8 million). Demand was expected to remain strong as publishers' newsprint inventories were at the lowest level since 1994. Norway's Norske Skog is in the process of buying Fletcher Paper.

Montana Holdings dismissed speculation that it was the target of an imminent takeover bid from Foster's Brewing as "nothing more than a rumour." Foster's has said it is looking at "three or four" acquisitions outside Australia. Local analysts said a bid for DB Group's Corbans Wines was more likely than a tilt at Montana.

Trade Exchange Bartercard will float around 18.5% of its shares to raise $A20 million and will list on the Australian Stock Exchange. The proceeds will be used to fund expansion of online trading in New Zealand and Australia.

Telstra Saturn awarded Ericsson Communications the contract to build a high-capacity fibre-optic cable linking Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The cable is part of Telstra Saturn's $1.2 billion five-year plan to build a New Zealand-wide broadband access network.

Telecom went on the counter-attack against Clear Communications, offering to rebate bills customers have incurred through its controversial 2c-a-minute charge if they switch from non-0867 ISPs to one of the 13 0867 ISPs by May 31. The charge applies after 10 hours' internet use a month with non-0867 ISPs.

Singapore Airlines bought Brierley Investments' 16.7% B-share stake in Air New Zealand for $285 million or $3 a share, taking its holding to 25%. SIA said it would ask the government to relax ownership rules to allow it to own 40%.

Rod Eddington, chief executive of Air New Zealand's Ansett Holdings, left to take the top job at British Airways. Ansett International general manager Craig Wallace is his interim replacement.

Telecommunications networker GDC Communications made a strong debut on the Stock Exchange, finishing its first day of trading on Wednesday at 185c, up 35c on the issue price.

The Commerce Commission declined to clear Polarcup New Zealand's application to buy Carter Holt Harvey's rigid plastics packaging business, saying it was not satisfied the merged firm would not dominate.

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