Key Points:

While people were otherwise distracted wrapping presents and leaving out snacks for Santa, several companies took the opportunity to dump bad news late on Christmas Eve.

The tradition of the bad business news bombshell continued this year with Neuren Pharmaceuticals announcing it had stopped developing a drug aimed at reducing cognitive impairment in patients after cardiac surgery.

A clinical study of 325 patients showed Glypromate was ineffective.

The co-chief executive of Neuren Pharmaceuticals, Parmjot Bains, defended the timing. He said the Auckland-based but ASX-listed company had tried to get the news out as soon as it could.

"It's a horrible day to get it out to be honest," Bains said.

"We have to get them out as soon as we can so under ASX rules as soon as we know the results and they've been confirmed and reviewed by the chief medical officer and the chair of the executive committee and we're comfortable with it we've got them out.

"So it's been a very quick turnaround between the results coming out, the database being locked, the results being reviewed and analysed and coming out."

Also on Christmas Eve NZL Group announced plans to set up a private container terminal - the first of its kind in the country - at Port of Tauranga.

The large privately owned New Zealand logistics company said it had a contract dating back to the days when P&O Ports operated Tauranga's container terminal, which gave it the right to set up again.

"I haven't had a reaction from the port. We advised the port a couple of days ago that we would be re-establishing our container terminal," said NZL director Ken Harris.

He said NZL had rights to use a considerable area of Port of Tauranga's Sulphur Pt container terminal.

NZL is not saying if it has any shipping customers lined up, or how much it will invest in the venture.

"We believe there is enough support for us to take this step.

"We are not here to do anything to hurt the port. We are here to encourage port users. We want to work in with them as much as possible while providing a competitive choice."

Meanwhile, the news was frustrating from Air New Zealand, which announced that the delivery of a new aircraft could be delayed 12 months.

The company has ordered eight Boeing 787-9s with the first delivery originally expected at the end of 2010.

In April it was told delivery was not likely until 2012.

On Christmas Eve that date was extended to 2013.

Also on Wednesday, the world's largest dairy exporter, Fonterra, confirmed that its Chinese partner, Sanlu, had filed for bankruptcy after a countrywide scandal where thousands of Chinese children fell ill and some babies died after being fed milk powder deliberately adulterated with melamine.

Sanlu will now be managed by a court-appointed receiver who will assume responsibility for an orderly sale of the company's assets and payment of creditors.

The receiver will have six months to conclude this process.

"This bankruptcy order is not a surprise to us," said Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier.

"We were aware that Sanlu was in a very difficult situation and faced mounting debts as a result of the melamine contamination crisis."

Also on Christmas Eve, the Serious Fraud Office announced it had launched an investigation into Nathans Finance after a complaint from the finance company's receivers.

The SFO said Nathans' parent company, VTL Group, owed its subsidiary about $112 million, and Nathans was owed a further $59 million by parties associated with VTL's business activities.

The $171 million total comes to just a little more than the $166 million Nathans owes investors, after going into receivership in August.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NZPA