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South Eastern looks at two acquisitions

By Chris Hutching

Friday 10th March 2000

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South Eastern Utilities is looking at two potential acquisitions with technology prospects that may enhance its value.

SEU sold its interest in Wairarapa Electricity last year and has $64.5 million in the bank to invest or return to shareholders. For a while it looked like a return of capital to shareholders and winding up the company was most likely.

But recently the directors have become interested in the new prospects and the appointment of director Tim Saunders suggests SEU may be around for a while yet.

Managing director George Gould said the prospects being considered were unlike any of the speculative internet stocks exciting interest on the Stock Exchange.

He said SEU wanted to invest in a bricks-and-mortar company that had potential to enhance through technological development, such as internet links with suppliers.

SEU was no longer interested in the electricity sector where Mr Gould said new benefits looked likely to help consumers rather than shareholders.

For this reason it had been prepared to sell its 5% stake in Horizon Energy, even though a deal between to the two major shareholders of Horizon had been at nearly $13 a share. Other disgruntled minority shareholders who were not offered the $13 price are looking for redress.

Mr Gould said he suggested to Horizon directors minorities should be treated equally but SEU had decided to quit.

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