A trust linked to Briscoe boss Rod Duke has been on a shopping spree. The RA Duke Trust took the opportunity to snap up more shares in Briscoe Group following its recent record profit.

The trust increased its stake in the business from 75 per cent to 78.1 per cent.

The off-market purchase was worth more than $10 million.

Briscoe's profit was up 27 per cent to $27.5 million in the 12 months to January 31. The company's share price hit a high of $1.62 on Monday and yesterday closed on $1.53.



It seems the cautionary message to investors about low-ball offers is getting through. PGG Wrightson general counsel Julian Daly says so far it seems none of its investors have taken up an offer made by Australian company Stock & Share Trading.

PGW sent out a sharemarket alert last week after discovering Stock & Share Trading had written to some of its shareholders offering to buy the shares for 35c a share - a 12.5 per cent discount to the then market price of 40c.

The offer is not illegal but last year the Financial Markets Authority requested the Australian company include a warning with any unsolicited offers it put into the marketplace.

The warning advises investors to talk to a financial adviser or sharebroker to find out what their investments are worth before selling.

In December the company wrote to Rural Equities shareholders and requested copies of investor registers from Tower and Dorchester Pacific.


Kiwifruit supply company Seeka Kiwifruit Industries has been the subject of a price inquiry this week after its share price rose more than 60 per cent in just 10 days.


Seeka's share price increased from $1.06 to $1.70 between March 6 and March 16, spurring a letter from the NZX to ask if the company was complying with the continuous disclosure rules.

Seeka chief financial officer Stuart McKinstry said it was in compliance and did not know the reason for the spike.

"While we are not aware of any factors to explain the share price increase, Seeka has recently released its full year result."

The result was not great. The company recorded an after-tax loss of $7.1 million compared with a $6.4 million profit in the earlier corresponding period and wrote down the value of its gold orchards by $9.7 million.

Yesterday the shares closed at $1.70.



PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Justin Liddell is predicting 2012 will still be a "reasonable" year for deal activity in New Zealand despite the overhanging threat of the European debt crisis and ongoing global uncertainty.

In a new report looking at how companies are valued and past and future merger and acquisition activity, Liddell says the outlook for New Zealand's economy is positive and our banking system is in a relatively strong position.

"This will support deal activity in 2012, both domestic and inbound investment."


Two institutional investors must have liked what they heard at a recent analyst briefing for GPG. Both AMP Capital Investors and Westpac's fund management business BT Funds Management have increased their stakes in Guinness Peat Group.

AMP now owns 4.28 per cent while BT has a 3.14 per cent of the company. GPG's annual results were released on February 24 and a briefing was held on March 5.


The company's new board has finally begun to clarify its position on pension scheme losses and investment valuations - areas of concern under the old guard.

The company is also making progress on its asset sell-down strategy.

It sold its stake in Turners and Growers but is still looking for a buyer for its remaining Kiwi investment in Tower. GPG's share price has regained ground after hitting a low of 46c on March 3. Yesterday it closed at 51.5c.


Branching out over the Tasman has helped Canadian-run NZX-listed New Zealand medical landlord Vital Healthcare Property Trust make more money.

Its gross rental income rose a healthy 81 per cent from the 2010 half-year to 2011's half-year. The trust made $13.5 million gross rental income in the six months to December 31, 2010, but in its latest period pushed that up to $24.4 million "reflecting the positive contribution from the Australian acquisition in December 2010".


Vital, previously owned by ANZ's OnePath, bought Essential Healthcare Trust, giving it an extensive footprint in Australia.

Vital's latest half-year bottom line profit was $5.4 million (previously a $5.7 million loss).


Heritage Gold yesterday clarified a statement to the NZX this week on prospects at its Talisman Mine.

The explorer's share price jumped from 1.6c last Friday to 2.1c on Tuesday, the day it released a scoping study on the mine near Waihi which it deemed "potentially very robust and highly profitable".

Heritage is listed here and in Australia and it said the review showed that at a 7.5 per cent discount rate, the project has a net present value of A$150 million ($193 million).


But the latest announcement points out values attributed to the project are not compliant with an Australian-developed code covering resource estimates.

Heritage managing director Peter Atkinson said the company had noticed the omission itself and the second notice clarified the difference between the Australian code and another under which it is compliant.

"We were just pointing out where they are different."

Its shares closed yesterday at 2.4c.

- Grant Bradley