Property editor of the NZ Herald

Bachelor dumping ahead of crunch meeting for sponsor Michael Hill

A defaced Bachelor poster at the Auckland Queen Street branch of Michael Hill.
A defaced Bachelor poster at the Auckland Queen Street branch of Michael Hill.

The high-profile split between stars of TV3 show The Bachelor comes as key sponsor Michael Hill International is poised for one of its most crucial corporate meetings in the history of the business.

On June 1, the NZX-listed Michael Hill will put plans to trade on the ASX to a major meeting of its shareholders in Auckland.

Bachelor star Jordan Mauger dumped Fleur Verhoeven just 72 hours after he choose her as his "true love" on the reality show's finale and although it is unknown how much financial backing Michael Hill International put into that show, expensive jewellery from the business featured prominently.

Ads showing Sir Michael Hill's wife, Lady Christine Hill, featured throughout the programme, promoting her Spirit's Bay line of jewellery, based on shells - the same as Mauger gave to one of the bachelorettes.

According to the Michael Hill Facebook page, the 2.45 carat diamond ring given to Fleur on the show's finale was part of the Michael Hill designer bridal range worth $26,099.

It was described as having a cushion cut centrepiece, surrounded by a double halo of round brilliant diamonds, and diamond set split shank shoulders. The 14carat white gold ring was finished with a signature pink sapphire set in 14carat rose gold.

Verhoeven revealed in an interview on TV3 that Mauger had delivered the devastating split news while visiting her at her Auckland hotel room.

Whether shareholders at the June 1 meeting in Auckland will question the Michael Hill bosses about being associated with the show is unknown.

The shareholder meeting will be only three weeks after the shock post-show split between the stars of the voyeuristic programme.

Michael Hill's name is now closely associated with the show and the company was seen by the market to be hoping to boost sales with the sponsorship, after a flat trading period lately.

Shares in Michael Hill, which has a market capitalisation of $421.4 million, are trading down at $1.10, below the $1.15 they were selling for in May last year.

Reasons for the ASX listing are compelling.

Most of the Michael Hill operations are now based in its dominant market of Australia, its financial reports are in Australian dollars and company chair and daughter of Sir Michael and Christine Hill - Emma Hill - has made it clear Australia is now home to the business.

Fleur Verhoevan wearing the Michael Hill ring after winning the Bachelor. Photo / Doug Sherring
Fleur Verhoevan wearing the Michael Hill ring after winning the Bachelor. Photo / Doug Sherring

The special shareholder meeting in Auckland will seek approval for the deal from 75 per cent of shareholders entitled to vote.

Michael Hill's logo is "we're for love", but it was difficult to see any sparks flying between Mauger and Verhoeven at a post-finale media event and a source told the Herald that the couple spent all night on opposite sides of the room.

The Hill's long-time marriage featured in the series too, with Mauger and Hill talking together before The Bachelor made his decision.

If the new business plan is approved, the ASX listing will be in place from the start of the new financial year on July 1, and shareholders will be able to choose whether to trade their shares on the ASX or NZX, the company said.

Michael Hill International said in its last annual report that it owns the brands Michael Hill and Emma & Roe and operates a retail jewellery chain of 293 Michael Hill stores and 11 Emma & Roe stores in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States as at 31 December 2015.

"The company story began in 1979 when Sir Michael and his wife Christine opened their first store in the New Zealand town of Whangarei, some 160 kilometres north of Auckland.

"Since then, our growth has been guided by our unique retail jewellery formula. Through dramatically different store designs, a product range devoted exclusively to jewellery and development of high impact advertising, the company rose to national prominence. In 1987 the company was listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, the same year the group expanded into Australia," the business says.

- NZ Herald

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