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Week in review

Friday 2nd May 2003

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Contact Energy posted a 13% higher, $34 million, March first-half profit as customer numbers rose to 580,000. Electricity sales rose 40% but net retail revenue was 36% lower because of the higher costs of wholesale power purchases.

Contact Energy said a new generation plant able to operate on either distillate or gas was to be commissioned in June next year, in either Auckland or Hawke's Bay. Contact has agreed to sell extra gas to Genesis Power for use at its Huntly station.

The Commerce Commission granted Air New Zealand a three-month extension to make its case for the strategic alliance with Qantas and will now make its final ruling by the end of September. Meanwhile Australia's transport minister, John Anderson, reiterated his government's support.

Southern Cross cable network, a joint venture in which Telecom is a partner, has restructured its senior banking facility. The maturity date of "a portion" has been extended to April 2008 and Telecom has provided contingent credit support for up to $US106 million ($189 million) of deferred loans.

ANZ Bank kicked off a fresh round of interest rate cuts after the Reserve Bank's surprise lowering of the official cash rate to 5.5%. The bank's floating home loan rate fell from 7.85% to 7.6%.

Evergreen Forests said its valuer had indicated the value of its forests would be cut to $141-149 million, down from $162 million in June 2002. The company still expects an operating profit of about $6.9 million.

New Plymouth-based lines company Powerco will spend $29 million building a Tasmania gas distribution network.

Richina Pacific has closed its Beijing aquarium in response to the Sars virus.

Department store Kirkcaldie & Stains reported a 25% lower, $771,000, February first-half profit and said the full year would also be down. It blamed higher inventory levels and interest costs.

Tranz Rail's workshops in Dunedin's Hillside won a $14 million, two-year contract to work on rolling stock and locomotives for the Auckland Rail Project.

Canadian media company CanWest's New Zealand operations reported February first-half earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation of $23 million, up from $9.1 million a year ago.

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