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Company Briefs

Friday 26th May 2000

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Natural Gas Corporation went to the High Court to get a ruling on a disputed $34.5 million payment for the buyback of its shares from Infratil New Zealand.

Fletcher Challenge Forests chief executive Paul Fowler quit saying he had completed the job he was hired to do. His departure sparked talk a sale of Forests, with which he is said to disagree, was imminent.

Meridian Energy said it had gained 15,000 customers during a six-month co-promotion with Sky Network Television. Sky is offering similar promotions to all comers. "We'll sell guns to all sides," chief operating officer John Fellet said.

Wilson Neill backed its Radionet wireless broadband unit into Australian-listed Mount Conqueror Minerals, taking $24 million worth of shares or a 75% stake. Mount Conqueror will hive its mining assets into a separate company and rename itself Radionet.

Telecom and Vodafone signed a new interconnection agreement to replace the 1993 deal with Vodafone's predecessor, BellSouth.

Telecom's submission to the Telecommunications Inquiry admitted its network was not up to scratch and claimed it would cost $550 million to upgrade even to a standard barely acceptable to internet users.

Telecom went into the market to top up its stake in Independent Newspapers, spending $65 million to take it to 10%.

TrustPower and Port of Tauranga replied cautiously to claims by Infratil manager Morrison & Co that they were overcapitalised. TrustPower said there were still acquisition opportunities around. The port would not comment.

Cellphone Accessories was fined $6000 as a result of Commerce Commission action. Its TV ads screamed prices but it was only in briefly flashed small print that it revealed these were GST-exclusive.

Network utility Powerco posted a $21.6 million net profit in its first year as a pure energy distributor. Chairman Barry Upson said it intended to expand its customer base to 250,000.

Oil companies raised petrol prices in response to a crude oil price hike. Shell led the way, lifting its prices 4c a litre.

Rural services company Wrightson will compensate farmers after selling swede seed that had been mixed with rape seed. It said the payments would not materially affect an expected "positive" financial result.

Telemedia Networks will supply i4free with data switching technology in a deal said to be worth up to $4 million.

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