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Friday 28th July 2000

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UnitedNetworks will spend an initial $30 million building fibre-optic networks in the Auckland and Wellington central business districts and plans to wholesale bandwidth to industry players.

Fletcher Energy's June year production rose 6.1% to 48.9 million barrels of oil equivalent. June quarter sales were 12.4 million barrels, up from 11.6 million.

Air New Zealand subsidiary Ansett won a $1 million contract to maintain three Sichuan Airlines Airbus A320s in China, starting in October and finishing in March next year.

A Telecom submission to the Telecommunicatons Inquiry said the cost of meeting its Kiwi Share obligations was $100 million a year.

National power grid operator Trans Power issued $60 million of 7% December 2010 bonds, taking its issues at that maturity to $100 million.

Health insurer Southern Cross has bought Aetna Health New Zealand subject to Commerce Commission clearance. The two companies have more than 80% of the health insurance market.

Tower's trustee arm, Tower Trust, bought Australia's IOOF Trustees, boosting funds under management to $A6 billion ($7.5 billion). Tower said the acquisition would increase profit $1-2 million a year.

Telecom had 980,000 mobile connections at the end of June. The Xtra internet service provider had 287,000 customers, with 9000 signing up in June alone.

Fletcher Energy (FCE) will defend court action brought by Eldercare, formerly New Zealand Petroleum, alleging FCE traded as an insider when it bought Southern Petroleum in 1995.

New Zealand Dairy Foods slowed plans to list on the Stock Exchange "to enable the company to address a number of strategic issues." It advised shareholders to keep their shares until a fair value could be established.

Air New Zealand is among 13 airlines forming an internet marketplace to automate procurement other than fuel and aircraft. Singapore Airlines is also a member.

Shell Oil confirmed it had held talks with Fletcher Energy amid speculation Shell would make a takeover bid. Shell declined to comment on the speculation.

Strathmore Group will offer to buy back 15% of its shares next month. Large shareholders such as Advantage Group, Cullen Investments, and New Zealand Funds Management have said they will accept.

Marac Finance, a subsidiary of merchant bank United Pacific, posted a 20% lift in March-year pre-tax profit, to $4.1 million. Total assets were $129 million.

PDL is moving its electrical products arm to Melbourne, saying most of the division's local customers were Australian-based. The electronics group remains based in Christchurch.

Fletcher Energy abandoned a third Brunei well, East Egret 1, after failing to find hydrocarbons. It postponed further drilling but said it had gained valuable geological information.

Hutchinsons New Zealand bought the assets and brand names of Food Marketers, including brands such as Trident, Coral and Southern Pride.

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