Tamsyn Parker 's Opinion

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor

Stock takes: Low ball offers

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Car racing at Hampton Downs followed by clay-pigeon shooting have been used to test interest for a potential share market listing of Moa beer. Photo / Supplied
Car racing at Hampton Downs followed by clay-pigeon shooting have been used to test interest for a potential share market listing of Moa beer. Photo / Supplied

Tower shareholders have been targeted three times in just three months by an Australian company making offers to buy their shares well below the market value.

Stock and Share Trading wrote to Tower investors twice in June and again in August offering to buy their shares for between $1 and $1.30.

Tower's shares were trading at around $1.56 in June and $1.76 in August.

According to the insurance company 737 shareholders have sold 282,420 shares to the Australian company so far. That is likely to have netted Stock and Share Trading over $100,000.

Shareholders in Rural Equities, which is listed on the Unlisted stock exchange, have also been hit three times in the last year.

Chairman David Cushing said in excess of 100,000 Rural Equities shares had been sold to Stock and Share Trading. The latest offer was paying $2.30 - considerably less than the $3.25 they traded at on the Unlisted market.

Cushing has described it as an abysmal market practice.

It's not illegal but there are law changes afoot to try and make it harder for low-ball offers to go ahead.

In the meantime, given the offers seem to be fairly profitable, there is unlikely to be any let up.

PROSPECTUS PENDING

Fonterra wasn't able to make any comments around the forthcoming listing of its Fonterra Shareholders Fund at Wednesday's result briefing as it is now into the black-out period.

But Stock Takes understands analysts have been asked to get their draft reports on the fund together by the end of this week indicating a prospectus might not be far off.

Prospectuses are typically released around six weeks ahead of a listing so potential investors could expect to see some paperwork next month.

Leaving it any longer would run the offer too close to the dire Christmas holiday period where virtually everyone shuts up shop.

Investors don't want to be thinking about whether to plough money into something when they are chewing over their glazed ham.

REVVING IT UP

The Fonterra fund is expected to attract at least $500 million which is tiny in comparison to the dairy giant itself. Fonterra is expected to lean heavily on its international brand and marketing to raise money but others that are not so well known have to try different techniques.

Beer brand Moa, which is being shopped around fund managers to test interest for a potential share market listing, tried to rev up interest with a boys' day out.

Potential clients were invited for some car racing at Hampton Downs followed by clay-pigeon shooting.

All that excitement would then have required a beer to finish off the day.

But whether it turns out to be a good investment is undecided.

Moa chairman Geoff Ross made his name by selling vodka brand 42Below to Bacardi in 2006 for $138 million.

But that strategy has yet to play out with his other business - candle retailer and body products maker Ecoya.

As one fund manager pointed out, it's all about the marketing.

BLATANT WORDING

Fisher & Paykel Appliances shareholders should receive the official offer documents from Haier in the post today or tomorrow.

The document has some pretty strong messages in it, including a front page with the biggest word on it being ACCEPT.

One of Haier's arguments for accepting is that the share price of appliances will fall dramatically if the offer does not go ahead.

Market expectations are that Haier will get to at least 51 per cent but is unlikely to obtain the whole company as some investors will hold out for more money regardless of what the independent report states.

It will be interesting to see if AMP and the Accident Compensation Corporation sell out once the report is released.

They could be seen to be doing a disservice to their investors if they don't sell and the share price plummets.

Another one to watch will be former chairman Gary Paykel.

Fisher and Paykel shares closed unchanged yesterday at $1.19.

The offer period closes on November 6.

TAKEOVER DIVE

One company that felt the after-effects of a failed takeover bid is Auckland International Airport.

Shares in the company have never returned to the highs they obtained during two failed takeover bids in 2007.

The airport was trading at $2.18 at the start of 2007 and then rose to $3.38 by July after Dubai Aerospace offered $3.80 per share for 60 per cent of the company.

Dubai withdrew its bid after negative feedback from the Government and the share price began to fall.

A second bid by a Canadian pension scheme in November to buy 40 per cent at $3.65 did not arrest the decline - by January the following year the shares were back down to $2.85.

The Canada offer was vetoed by the Government as the airport was considered too important to sell. The company's shares were this week trading around $2.63 and they closed on $2.63 yesterday.

NEW BOSS

Auckland Airport is expected to make an announcement soon on who its new boss will be.

Chief financial officer Simon Robertson has been acting chief executive since Simon Moutter left several months ago to take up the reins at Telecom.

Robertson is not widely expected to take over the top job permanently.

But one name from the past is being talked about as a possibility.

Former chief financial officer Robert Sinclair left the airport in 2008 to go to a job as chief executive of Bristol International Airport.

Could the ex-pat Kiwi be enticed back to his former stomping ground?

Other suggestions are that it could be someone with property experience given the airport has a lot of land ripe for development.

HANDOVERS

Two other major listed companies are in the process of chief executive handovers.

Fletcher Building chief executive Jonathan Ling had his farewell shindig at the Auckland Art Gallery on Tuesday night and is expected to have winged his way back to Melbourne by now.

Meanwhile, long-standing Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe will face his final annual general meeting today.

Both Ling and Fyfe's replacements are expected to have a strong focus on the bottom line.

New Telecom boss Simon Moutter is also expected to make cut-backs, leaving market players expecting more job cuts and potential factory closures from New Zealand's top level corporates.

- NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor. A business journalist for ten years, she has worked in the UK and NZ for the New Zealand Herald, the National Business Review and a specialist publication on investment products for financial advisors. She is passionate about helping readers learn more about to make their money work for them.

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