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Reborn Ansett about to take off

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 24th March 2000

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Auckland merchant bank Clavell Capital is close to announcing the purchase of Ansett New Zealand by a consortium of New Zealand businessmen from 100% owner News Ltd.

Clavell managing director David Belcher said yesterday settlement of the deal, believed to be worth $30-$40 million, was "imminent" and an announcement was expected within a week.

Names linked to the consortium include
Dunedin entrepreneur Sir Clifford Skeggs, businessmen Alan Gibbs and Trevor Farmer and Sovereign insurance founders Chris Coon and Ian Hendry.

Qantas, which already works closely through commercial agreements with Ansett New Zealand, is expected to strengthen its relationship with the reborn carrier although it is not known if the Australian airline has taken an equity position.

Ansett New Zealand began flying in competition with Air New Zealand on domestic routes 13 years ago and, despite losses estimated at around $200 million, has improved performances following cost cuts and restructuring in the past 12 months.

The carrier this week announced it has taken a three-year naming rights' sponsorship for New Zealand Soccer's planned national club championship in a move timed to launch the new airline venture.

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