Stock Takes understands the local Whitcoulls business had been up for sale for about a year with no takers before owners REDgroup decided to put the company in administration.

Briscoe Group is understood to have taken a look but decided it wasn't keen. Voluntary administrator Steve Sherman says he has received approaches from interested parties locally and overseas although the expressions have been very cursory at this stage.

But two key market players say they can't think of anyone locally who would want to own the business.

The company has been owned by some of New Zealand's highest profile business people including Sir Ron Brierley's Brierley Investments, Graeme Hart's Rank Group and Eric Watson's Blue Star.

One source described the business as "particularly ugly".

He said the company typically made most of its money over the Christmas period and a bad Christmas could hit the company hard. Last Christmas was not great for the group.

There had been talk of REDgroup going ahead with a sharemarket float last year but that option was ditched.


The share prices of New Zealand's listed companies have been relatively resilient in the face of Christchurch's latest earthquake. The benchmark NZX-50 was already falling before the quake hit on the back of the results season and concern over activity in world markets.

It fell a further 0.7 per cent on the day of the quake to hit a two-week low but then recovered some ground on Wednesday, rising 0.39 per cent. Yesterday it was on the downward trend again.

BT Group's Matthew Goodson said the impact of the Christchurch earthquake on the sharemarket had been muted.

"We have obviously seen Fletcher Building rise somewhat in expectation of its future role in Christchurch, but otherwise the impact has been pretty limited."


In a research note Macquarie said the quake was likely to have a small and short-term negative impact on growth in the March quarter as production that would usually have taken place - such as building, shopping and office work - was disrupted.

"For the builders, there will be a large amount of reconstruction work that needs to take place over time, but in the near term this is a negative as it delays a large amount of work already in the pipeline," the company said.

Macquarie expects earnings per share for Fletcher Building to increase by 4 per cent, 11 per cent and 12 per cent respectively over the next three financial years.

Fletcher shares opened on $8.28 on the day of the quake and yesterday closed at $8.58 not far short of its year-high of $8.70.

But Tyndall's Rickey Ward warned the market could be getting ahead of itself. "They are pricing tomorrow's news into today."

Macquarie also predicts infrastructure builders Opus Consulting could see a 4 per cent lift in its earning per share for its 2012 financial year.


Macquarie said retail implications were particularly mixed.

"Hardware stores [are] likely to see stronger sales at the expense of some of the more recreational discretionary sectors. While larger businesses should be able to withstand this temporary loss of demand, there is greater risk for smaller businesses that were already under significant stress due to cautious consumer spending."

Briscoe Group has 10 stores in the affected area but only one is badly damaged and unlikely to reopen. Michael Hill International has some CBD stores closed but was expected to experience a minimal impact. Retailers appeared to be insured.

But campervan operator Tourism Holdings had the potential for a significant impact and it was not insured for loss of income, Macquarie noted. THL shares were trading at 63c before the earthquake and yesterday closed down on 60c.


Why can't Hallenstein Glasson Holdings hang on to its chief executives?

The retailer revealed on Wednesday that its latest CEO Stephen Timms would depart today after just over a year in the job.

Timms stepped into the role in January last year, taking over from director Roy Dillon who had been minding it since September 2008 when Australian Shayne Quanchi left after just six months in the position.

Dillon also stepped into the role temporarily in October 2007 after Di Humphries left after just 15 months in the top job. She remains a director. All have cited family reasons for leaving the firm.

One market source said some suspected the reason for the departures was because the board was difficult to work with.

The company has also frustrated some in the market with its lack of openness.

Chairman Warren Bell did not return calls to discuss the CEO situation yesterday. But the company said it had appointed finance director Graeme Popplewell to take over the chief executive's role.

Shares in Hallenstein closed down 6c on $3.65 yesterday.


The legal stoush between Paul Glass' Devon Funds Management and his former business Brook Asset Management has had its first day in court but it looks like the case could be a long way off being resolved.

Brook, which Glass co-founded with Simon Botherway and then sold to Macquarie, decided to take legal action in June last year after three employees said they would leave and join Devon.

Last Friday's meeting was held behind closed doors but is understood to have been mainly procedural to allow representatives of the two groups to get together for the first time.

It looks likely the case itself won't get to a hearing until 2012.


Buried among the breaking news of Tuesday's earthquake was the announcement that fiscally challenged Allied Farmers is losing another member of its executive team.

The company announced the resignation of its rural division chief executive Paul Macfie, without giving a reason for his departure.

Macfie's departure follows that of chairman John Loughlin, who stepped down last year after its finance company Allied Nationwide went into receivership.

Managing director Rob Alloway has also tried to resign from his executive role but was convinced to stay on by the board. Allied's share price closed on 1.8c yesterday.


Westpac says a delay in the sale of its covered bonds to the European market is not related to the Christchurch earthquake.

The bank's decision to hold off selling its bonds came through Bloomberg on Wednesday, a day after the quake struck.

A spokeswoman for the company said the decision was related to increased uncertainty in the European market.

Westpac would continue to monitor the situation and look to issue as and when the market stabilises, she said.

Westpac said in December it planned to raise up to €5 billion ($9.2 billion) in covered bonds over the next five years to boost its funding requirements.


I am taking a break from Stock Takes as I head off on maternity leave. Jamie Gray, an experienced market reporter, will cover Stock Takes from next week.