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Tourism Holdings to merge NZ rentals with KEA, United Campervans

Monday 3rd September 2012

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Tourism Holdings, the campervan rental company, will merge its New Zealand business with KEA Campers and United Campervans for $69.5 million of cash, shares and debt in a deal that will double per-share earnings in 2014.

The deal is subject to 50 percent shareholder approval and will see the Auckland-based company's assets rise to about $350 million from $280 million.

United Campervans principal Kay Howe will join Tourism Holdings board as an executive director to help with the integration. Grant Brady, KEA principal and managing director will lead RV Manufacturing campervan group, which he has a 50 percent shareholding in. THL is also proposing that Brady lead the company's New Zealand vehicle sales operation.

"This merger is logical, strategic and the best response to the challenging realities of the current New Zealand market," chairman Keith Smith said in a statement. "THL is the industry player that already has the scale to market New Zealand tourism and New Zealand campervan vacations to a broad international audience and therefore the best placed to make the most of the additional brands."

NZX-listed THL's payment for KEA and United includes the refinancing of $50.9 million in debt, 12 million Tourism Holding shares at 61.9 cents each and $3.2 million in cash. A deferred payment of up to $8 million is contingent on vehicle selling prices meeting expectations.

THL shares last traded at 57 cents and have shed about 3 percent this year. The stock is rated 'outperform' based on the consensus of three recommendations compiled by Reuters.

Following the merger THL forecasts its operating profit to increase to $19.3 million in the June 2013 full year from $16.3 million a year earlier. That includes acquisition and implementation costs of $1.7 million. In 2014, the first full year after the merger, operating earnings are expected to rise to $28.8 million, while after-tax earnings per share are set to double to 13.3 cents a share.

Last week, THL returned to profit after an increase in sales from the Rugby World Cup and the first full-year contribution its Road Bear unit in the US. Profit was $4.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from a year-earlier loss of $27.3 million. Sales increased 8 percent to $200 million.

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