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Of Bulls & Bears

Friday 14th April 2000

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Australian buyers boost Baycorp

Baycorp Holdings' decision to dual list on the Australian market last year was partly in response to investor demand. Many Australian institutions liked the look of the credit reporting and debt collection company but were constrained by laws that force them to invest only in Australian-listed shares (typical Ocker protectionism). Baycorp looked favourably upon the idea because it had plans to expand into the lucky country, which it has since done to great effect. The result is a great promotion of the benefits in listing on an exchange larger than New Zealand's. Of Baycorp's 40 largest holders, 18 are now Australian. Among them are investors rarely seen down this way, such as the Queensland Investment Corporation, the Victorian Superannuation Board and Commonwealth Life. The additional demand has done no harm to Baycorp's share price either. Since listing in Australia in May last year, the company's price has more than doubled. Now Baycorp is expanding rapidly into Asia, can investors expect Baycorp to join Brierley Investments on the Singapore board?

Gibbons creep up Colonial register

Ferdinand has commented before on The Colonial Motor Co and the gradual reattainment of dominance by a major holder, the Gibbons family, which was rudely disenfranchised by Sir Ronald Brierley's Guinness Peat Group several years ago. Since GPG took its booty and ran in 1997, some members of the widely spread Gibbons tribe have been steadily buying up parcels of shares. Of the 13 major shareholders who have changed their stakes since November, eight carry the Gibbons name and all have increased their stakes. These range from a mere 5% increase (to a 9.9% stake) to a rise of 45% (to go to 0.7%). Between them, Gibbons family members own at least 12 million shares in Colonial Motor, or 39% of the company. However, the major shareholder is still Sun Motors with 24.9%. This is a subsidiary of MBM Resources, one of the Malaysian companies to which GPG sold its stake.

Merger masks market malaise

All the excitement over the announcement last week of Fletcher Paper's imminent acquisition by Norwegian paper company Norske Skog has been good for a 100 points or so on the NZSE40 index. However, the deal and the enthusiasm it has engendered appear to be masking a general malaise among other shares on the market. Ferdinand has discovered, for example, that this week one share only achieved a yearly high - Reid Farmers. This is far fewer than normal and not the sort of thing one would see in a healthy, buoyant market. Meanwhile, among the several companies achieving record lows are National Mail and Beauty Direct, new listings who normally could expect a honeymoon period at least until they reported their first results. To complete the gloom, popular technology share Advantage Group has taken a pounding in the last couple of weeks, losing 14%. Anyone for bank deposits?

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