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Zespri tasty while Enza is bruised

By Aimee McClinchy

Friday 11th August 2000

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MOVER: Zespri finally goes one-up on its crunchy cousin
Confident kiwifruit growers are sitting tight on their Zespri shares and planting more orchards than the industry has seen in years.

Their certainty contrasts with apple and pear growers who sold shares in their marketer, Enza, to corporate raiders at an average share price of $1.50.

In the kiwifruit industry only 13 trades of small bundles of shares have been made since Zespri's corporatisation on April 1.

The trades have ranged from $5.01 in May - Zespri itself did not set a value at time of corporatisation - to a bundle of 2400 shares on Monday which changed hands at $3.40.

Zespri Group said a small amount had also been privately transferred and was attributed to changes in ownership of land for new planting areas and house construction.

When it corporatised, Zespri predicted up to 10% of growers would immediately sell out, particularly a "religious" group who did not vote for the new structure and wanted to export for themselves.

"It's an exciting time from a grower perspective," said Tony de Farias, managing director of one of the country's largest kiwifruit operations, Seeka Kiwifruit Industries.

He said grower confidence was being fed by counter-season export markets and demand for kiwifruit "outstripping planting."

He said most growers were sitting on their shares as "most would be taking the view that we have not been able to get a real feeling of what the shares are worth - most growers feel they would rather hang in and wait."

Mr de Farias believes there are more plantings in the Bay of Plenty region than there have been in the past five to 10 years.

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