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Rubicon crossing surprises market


Tuesday 28th January 2003

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A big block of shares in forestry and biotech firm Rubicon changed hands this morning.

Brokerage First NZ Capital traded six million shares, or 2 percent of the company, at 76 cents each, taking the market by surprise and sparking speculation either Guinness Peat Group or its rival Perry Corporation could be involved.

Shares in Rubicon, which owns 17.6 percent of Fletcher Challenge Forests, firmed 4 cents to 75 cents on the back of the crossing.

"You've got to say it looks like part of Perry's parcel," one broker said.

"The market seems a tad surprised. I don't think there's any buyback or anything in play. First NZ have been the buy back brokers to this company.

"The market is looking for answers."

Corporate raider GPG, whose partial takeover of Rubicon failed last year, took multibillion-dollar United States hedge fund Perry Corp to court in December claiming that Perry attempted to hide its 16 percent Rubicon holding in an equity swap.

During the case, GPG said that when it lifted its stake in Rubicon to 19.9 percent in a lightning raid in July, it had no idea that Perry had a 16 percent stake in the company. Perry said it had an "economic interest" of that size but did not own that quantity of shares. GPG wants a forfeiture and/or sale -- at arm's length -- of shares by Perry to reduce its holding to the level that it had publicly disclosed, 4.895 percent.

Justice Judith Potter reserved her decision in the case.

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