The launch of a new food company has broken New Zealand's sharemarket listing drought.
Cooks Food Group went live on the NZAX yesterday, although it failed to attract any trades.
The company is the first listing to come to market this year apart from troubled finance company Geneva, which listed as part of a capital restructure plan.
Cooks Food Group chairman Keith Jackson, formerly a CEO of Tegel Foods for 16 years, said the company had decided to go ahead with the listing despite the economic climate.
Jackson said the move was also made easier by the fact that Cooks was not looking to raise money through an initial public offering and it was likely to be some time before it planned to raise any money from the public.
"Therefore we thought from our point of view even though times aren't the greatest we saw the glass as half-full rather than half-empty."
The listing has been reverse engineered through Jackson's investment company Tasman Capital.
Jackson set up the business last year with business partner Joseph Van Wijk. Its aim is to search out investment opportunities on behalf of its 454-member shareholder base.
In return for helping companies to list on the stock exchange Tasman Capital and its shareholders receive equity within the company and are also offered the first choice to invest when it raises capital.
In November last year the group listed its first business, electricity metering company Pulse Utilities.
In June Pulse reported an annual loss of $3.32 million but said it was still aiming to make 61,000 installations and $124 million in revenue by 2013.
Jackson said Tasman Capital was also planning to list a third business next month called WSD Financial (NZ).
The Auckland-based firm is an international broking house with branches in Bangkok, Dubai, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Nairobi.
Cooks Food Group is a combination of three businesses - Murdoch Foods, Sahara Foods and Cotterill & Rouse, brought together over the past 12 months.
Its best-known brand is Cotterill & Rouse - a pickles and chutney producer which has been around for over 20 years.
All the Cooks Food Group's products are manufactured in Auckland either directly at its Pakuranga plant or outsourced to other Auckland manufacturers.
The products are predominantly sold in supermarkets and cafes. Cotterill and Rouse also supplies LSG, the company which supplies food to airlines including Air New Zealand.
Jackson said the company's growth had slowed in the past year and was expected to be affected by the tougher economic conditions.
"But we are hoping that will be minimised by having a wide range of products."
The transactions carried out to establish Cooks were based on a combined entity value of $5.5 million.
The company had 22 million ordinary shares, of which 19.6 million were covered by an escrow deed, under which shareholders would not dispose of the shares for a year following listing.
About 2.18 million preference shares were also issued at 25c each which could be converted to ordinary shares or redeemed for cash at the end of 2010.
Jackson said he would like to see the company's share price at a minimum of 25c.
NZX head of markets Geoff Brown said the new listings were unlikely to break the equity-raising drought.
However, he said interest in debt issues remained strong.
BUCKING THE TREND
Tasman Capital's listings
* Electricity metering company Pulse Utilities in November 2007.
* Food manufacturer Cooks Food Group October 2008.
* Financial services provider WSD Financial (NZ) planned for November 2008.