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Friday 5th May 2000

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Fletcher Challenge has appointed investment banks to handle "restructuring" of two divisions. Credit Suisse First Boston will investigate options arising from withdrawing the Building division from the letter stock structure and Morgan Stanley will do the same for Energy. Merrill Lynch is handling Forests.

Tranz Rail beat forecasts by announcing a $17.5 million March quarter profit, up from $16.2 million a year earlier. Operating profit including redundancies was $24.7 million ($22 million).

Lucent Technologies said it was looking to hire 500 staff in Australia and New Zealand to install wireless equipment for telcos.

Clear Communications has asked Telecom to begin renegotiating its interconnection agreement. Telecom said it was "always ready to talk."

Commonwealth Bank of Australia launched a friendly takeover bid for Colonial Ltd. As part of the process CBA has asked the Commerce Commission for clearance to merge its 75%-owned ASB Bank with Colonial's New Zealand operations. Colonial is selling its UK life and pensions business.

Contact Energy reported a 5% rise in March first-half profit before abnormals. Bottom line profit fell 30% to $38.2 million. Contact said it would spend up to $2 billion on Australian acquisitions.

The Warehouse reported April third-quarter sales of $232.2 million, up 17% on the same quarter a year ago. Same-store sales were up 12.4%. It had 69 retail stores and 18 Warehouse Stationery stores.

Fletcher Challenge Paper's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the nine months to March were up 23% to $455 million. The 51%-owned Fletcher Challenge Canada subsidiary said March third quarter earnings more than doubled, to $C23.2 million. FCP is being sold to Norway's Norske Skog.

The Commerce Commission will release by May 17 its final ruling on an application by TeamTalk to buy Telecom's Fleetlink mobile radio business. The commission's draft decision found public benefits outweighed competition detriments.

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