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South Canterbury sells off Grocorp

By Chris Hutching

Friday 14th April 2000

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South Canterbury Finance has tired of waiting for pipfruit deregulation and is quitting its involvement in listed Hawke's Bay apple grower Grocorp Pacific.

A substantial shareholder notice posted to the Stock Exchange during the week announced the sale of shares held by Hornchurch Ltd in Camrant Holdings, which in turn holds 86.64% in Grocorp. The sale was to Apples Aotearoa.

Grocorp chairman Grant Sinclair said the company was comfortable with the majority shareholders.

"The majority ownership of Camrant as far as the Grocorp directors are concerned is compatible. The directors of the company have no qualms or queries about the ownership." Mr Sinclair said he was unable to comment further.

Companies Office records show Timaru-based Ed Sullivan and Ross Lund of C Lund & Son are directors on all the companies except Hornchurch, which has NBR Rich List millionaire Humphry Rolleston as a director.

The deal appears to offer Mr Rolleston an exit from the investment.

Hornchurch is a wholly owned subsidiary of South Canterbury Finance, a company that has Mr Rolleston as a director along with Timaru millionaire Alan Hubbard.

The Hornchurch investment did not fit well with South Canterbury Finance's core business of lending money. The stake had been taken in mid-1999 in the expectation of pipfruit deregulation. But that had proved too slow and South Canterbury Finance asked to be bought out via Apples Aotearoa, a company associated with Messrs Sullivan and Lund.

"All will be revealed in the future I suppose but as it is there are people who are very positive about the future of the industry and have made a large investment in what is the second biggest orchard in New Zealand." Mr Lund said.

The consideration for the deal was $5.3 million, which values the 43,813235 shares at 1c on issued capital of $53 million, according to the information lodged with the Stock Exchange.

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