Auckland International Airport, the country’s main gateway, said it had talked to its two duty free retailers following what it called “over-zealous competition” at the airport.
The hard-sell tactics of the duty free retailers was raised by a shareholder at the airport’s annual meeting in Auckland today and comes as the company considers bids for the upcoming eight-year duty free concession tender.
Shareholder Neville Townsley said the most unpleasant part of any overseas journey through Auckland Airport was “having to survive a phalanx of quite aggressive people when I come through duty free on my return.
“They’re armed with little more than fake sincerity and I have a perverse reaction that I won’t buy anything at that point on principle,” he said.
The airport’s general manager of retail and commercial Richard Barker said New Zealand was unusual in that it had two duty free retailers whereas most airports had one, but the Commerce Commission had said there should be competition.
The two duty free retailers at the airport are JR Duty Free and DFS Duty Free Auckland which are both part of big global chains. JR Duty Free also has concession at Christchurch and Wellington airports while another company Aelia operates at Queenstown, although owned by the same parent as Duty Free Stores.
“At times there has been over-zealous competition between the two of them. I personally don’t like it. I’ve had anecdotal feedback that it has been particularly intense a few ago but they have since modified their behaviour,” Barker said.
The most egregious behaviour occurred when one of the retailers did a significant promotion earlier this year which saw a couple of staff members from its rival overstep the mark, he said.
“We had a word to them and it stopped,” he said.
There is already an existing code of conduct the duty free retailers are expected to follow including not stepping outside their retail area to directly approach passengers as they move through the arrival and departure areas. He said while most Kiwis don’t like being approached when they walk into a store, a lot of Asian customers preferred to be greeted and guided through what’s on offer.
“We’re working with the retailers to read people’s body languages and to treat different people differently.”
There were originally 10 companies bidding for the duty free concession but Barker said five to six companies ended up making a formal bid. These will be considered in the next few months and a decision made early next year. The existing two concessions end in June.
He wouldn’t say what percentage of the duty free retailers’ turnovers went back to the airport.
Chairman Henry van der Heyden confirmed the company was likely to deliver an underlying net profit after tax of between $160 million and $170 million this financial year, in line with the guidance it gave in August. He said the result would be broadly in line with the underlying net profit it recorded in the June 30 2104 financial year.
One shareholder questioned why there was not likely to be an improvement in underlying earnings. Chief executive Adrian Littlewood said shareholders had to bear in mind increased interest costs associated with the debt taken on in order to pay shareholders a $454 million capital return in April and lower growth in passenger numbers at the start of the year.
Despite that slower start to passenger growth this year compared with last year, industry feedback suggests this upcoming summer will be one of New Zealand’s busiest ever, he said.
Directors’ fees were increased by $54,742, or 3.6 percent, to $1.4 million, two years after the last increase. The chairman’s pay will rise to $227,000 while other directors will get a rise in their base fee to $106,296 per annum from $103,000.
New Zealand shares rose to a new record close, led by Restaurant Brands New Zealand after the country’s biggest fast-food operator boosted its annual earnings guidance. Spark New Zealand pace gains as investors sought defensive stocks with reliable dividends
The NZX 50 Index rose 13.126 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5292.825. Within the index, 20 stocks rose, 15 fell and 15 were unchanged. Turnover was $130.7 million.
Restaurant Brands led the benchmark index higher, advancing 4.9 percent to a record close of $3.67. The fast-food operator raised its annual profit forecast to $22 million as it benefits from lower input costs, higher sales and restructuring of stores. It said first-half profit rose 19 percent to $11.5 million as a 9.1 percent gain in revenue outpaced a 6.8 percent increase in the cost of goods sold.
“That result and guidance going forward was better than the market expected, and the KFC side appears to be doing extremely well,” said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. Restaurant Brands is “viewed as a defensive, yield stock,” and “investors were back chasing yield and the more defensive stocks on the market.”
Other companies with reliable dividend returns to gain were Spark, formerly Telecom Corp, which climbed 2.7 percent to $3.04, and general insurer Tower, which increased 0.5 percent to $1.90.
Fletcher Building fell 0.9 percent to $8.51. The country’s largest listed company won a contract to build 237 homes on an 11.5-hectare Crown-owned site in Christchurch, including 89 which will be priced below $400,000, Housing Minister Nick Smith said.
Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s largest listed retailer, rose 2.3 percent to $3.17. James Pascoe, the retail group owned by David and Anne Norman, has boosted its holding the retailer to 6.3 percent from the 5.15 percent.
“Pascoes upped their stake in the company, which is seen as a sign of confidence in the company,” Williamson said.
Port of Tauranga rose 0.4 percent to $16.16. The country’s biggest coastal export hub sees annual earnings growth of up to 6.1 percent to between $78 million and $83 million and expects to finish plans to enable big ships to dock at its wharves over the coming year.
Auckland International Airport, the country’s main gateway, was unchanged at $3.81. At its annual general meeting it confirmed it’s likely to deliver an underlying net profit of between $160 million and $170 million this financial year, in line with the guidance it gave in August.
Units in Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund fell 0.3 percent to $6.16. Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, said it is looking at building two new South Island driers. Units in the fund give holders access to the cooperative’s dividend stream.
Power companies were mixed after government data showed consumer electricity prices fell 0.2 percent in the third quarter. Contact Energy rose 0.7 percent to $6.17 and TrustPower was unchanged at $7.37, while the three state-controlled electricity generator-retailers declined, with Genesis Energy down 0.7 percent to $2.01, Meridian Energy falling 0.3 percent to $1.675 and MightyRiverPower declining 1.1 percent to $2.79.
Outside the benchmark index, Pyne Gould Corp, the asset management firm controlled by managing director George Kerr, said it has sold its 27 percent stake in Equity Partners Infrastructure Co No 1 after failing to take control of the investment company and oust its board. Trading in Pyne Gould’s shares last traded at 38 cents before they were suspended on Oct. 9 by the stock market operator and regulator, after the firm failed to lodge its annual report by the required deadline.
Fonterra Co-operative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has begun a consultation process prior to lodging consent applications to build two new high-efficiency milk powder driers at its Studholme site in South Canterbury.
The Auckland-based dairy company said the proposed investment would add about 9 million litres of capacity to its milk processing in South Canterbury, one of the country’s fastest-growing dairy regions.
Fonterra managing director global operations Robert Spurway said a budget hadn’t been worked out for the proposed plants at this early stage but the first one would be similar in size to one it has just started building in Lichfield in south Waikato which will cost just under $400 million. Dusseldorf-based GEA has been appointed to build the Lichfield drier which will rival Fonterra’s Darfield one, the world’s largest pumping out 700 million tonnes of milk powder per day.
Spurway said community feedback on the proposed Studholme driers would be considered before the final design was completed and he expected resource consents to be lodged early next year. If the expansion is approved, construction could begin on the first drier within the next five years, followed by the potential installation of a second drier within the next 10 years.
Minimising the environmental impacts will be a high priority for the build with plans including a range of wastewater treatment options given the proximity of the Wainono lagoon to the site. Fonterra is also working to reduce the coal use and investigating options for energy efficient boilers capable of burning biomass.
“As with any build of this scale, local employment would be one of the major winners. With each new drier our site and tanker staff would grow by around 125 new positions, with builders and contractors to complete the build factored in on top of that,” Spurway said.
Fonterra announced in August it was spending $555 million on expanding its processing facilities to cope with increased global demand and rising milk volumes in New Zealand.
Spurway said the new driers would handle milk from the south Canterbury area. South Island milk volumes had risen by 6 percent recently but that growth was expected to fall off in coming years which could impact the timing of the building of the driers, he said.
Units in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to Fonterra’s earnings stream, fell 0.3 percent to $6.16 today, and have gained 6.6 percent this year.
The New Zealand dollar fell after figures showed inflation in the third quarter was slower than the Reserve Bank had forecast, giving it less reason to resume raising interest rates after pausing its tightening cycle in July.
The kiwi fell to 79.52 US cents as at 5 pm in Wellington, down from 79.09 cents immediately before the inflation data was released and down from 79.76 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index fell to 76.47 from 77.42 yesterday.
Government figures showed the consumer price index rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter, unchanged from three months earlier, for an annual pace of 1 percent, the bottom end of the central bank’s target range. The bank and economists had been expecting an annual rate of 1.3 percent. The kiwi has tumbled more than 9 percent in the past three months as concerns about faltering global growth weighed on so-called commodity currencies and the greenback strengthened.
“Because inflation has slowed down quite a lot there’s no real need to rush in hiking again after the RBNZ was pretty aggressive earlier in the year,” said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets. “Global macro issues have been weighing on many of the commodity currencies and a strong US dollar has been aided by expectations hiking will happen (in the US) by mid next year.”
In a speech to the BIS Conference on Cross-border Financial Linkages in Wellington today, Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler said the introduction of limits on low-equity home loans last year had taken heat out of the housing market and allowed him to delay raising interest rates further.
The New Zealand dollar fell to 89.65 Australian cents from 90.69 cents yesterday, and declined to 62.13 euro cents from 62.66 cents. It traded at 84.27 yen from 85.26 yen and fell to 48.91 British pence from 49.45 British pence yesterday.
CarbonScape, which makes “green” coking charcoal, wants to raise as much as $1.5 million from equity crowd funding to commercialise its product for the steel manufacturing market.
The Christchurch-based company has a minimum target of $400,000 on the Snowball Effect platform, with a funding cap of $1.5 million, and is hoping to lure investors offering shares at 20 cents apiece with a minimum investment of $1,000. The offer values CarbonScape at $8.86 million, and would see between 4.3 percent and 11.4 percent sold to the crow, according to its offer.
Since it launched this morning, 11 investors have pledged $32,000, or 8 percent of its minimum target.
CarbonScape makes “green coke” from forestry waste as an alternative to traditional mineral coke, like coal, used in the steel industry. The business is looking to commercialise the product to capture a shift in the steel industry to more sustainable, fossil-fuel free production.
New Zealand Steel, a subsidiary of Australia’s BlueScope Steel, will be CarbonScape’s first formal customer to take test samples of the green coke 12 months after the business secures its development capital.
With the minimum amount raised, CarbonScape will spend $132,000 on research and development, $90,000 on a green coke pilot plant design, $55,000 on two non-executive directors and $10,000 on lodging a new patent.
The company flagged a possible $70,000 would be spent on a New Zealand Alternative Index reverse listing, which would go to the pilot plant if its compliance listing plans didn’t go ahead, according to its offer documents.
Should the company secure more than the minimum amount, it will spend more on research and development, the appointment of a process engineer and business development manager, the construction of a 80 tonne capacity green coke plant to supply NZ Steel, and lodging a further two patents.
According to its forecasts based on the supply of 9,000 tonnes of green coke to NZ Steel, the business sees itself making an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation loss of $484,000 in 2015, before turning to an Ebitda profit of $3.1 million on sales of $6.9 million in 2016. In 2017 it expects Ebitda of $5.5 million on $10.5 million in sales, and in 2018 it expects earnings to be $5.6 million on revenue of $10.7 million.
By 2021, the company projects revenue to have grown to $83 million, for a valuation of $415 million, on a realistic outlook. The company makes no mention of dividends in its offer documents or shareholders agreement.
As at March 31 this year it had $4,737 cash on hand, which had increased to $105,000 at Sept. 30. Shareholders’ equity was $195,043 as at Sept. 30.
The capital raised via Snowball is part of the company’s wider financing plan to secure $3.5 million over the next 12 months, and it has already raise $2.9 million from previous offshore investors, it said.
Snowball is licensed under the new Financial Markets Conduct Act, which came into effect on April 1, providing a regime where projects can raise a maximum of $2 million, offering equity through crowd-sourcing platforms. The licensing is part of the Financial Markets Authority’s expanded brief to bolster New Zealand’s capital markets, but the new platforms do carry risks for investors, with reduced compliance obligations for small capital raisings compared to companies listed on the NZX mainboard.
CarbonScape is Snowball’s third equity crowd funding offer. It follows the success of Blenheim boutique brewer, Renaissance, which raised its maximum $700,000 of new capital from 287 investors in one and a half weeks and ‘The Patriarch’ a new film to be directed by Lee Tamahori, which raised $453,800 from 181 people, just shy of its maximum $500,000 target.
Meanwhile, Pledge Me, the country’s only other licensed equity crowd-funding platform, launched its first two equity offers on Sept. 26, giving investors the chance to buy into New Zealand’s first computer museum, backed by Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak, and a hovercraft ferry in the South Island.
Techvana Operating, which is looking to raise a minimum of $250,000 and up to $750,000 to secure a location and build New Zealand’s first computer museum in Auckland, has so far raised $4,000 from 20 pledgers. The second offer, H2Explore, has raised $6,350 of its minimum target of $250,000, from 26 pledgers so far. The tourist operation is looking for up to $300,000 to build a Twizel-based hovercraft to ferry tourists across the Tasman river and Lake Pukaki.
CarbonScape’s offer closes on Dec. 7, while H2Explore finishes on Nov. 11 and Techvana wraps up on Nov. 27.
Port of Tauranga, the country’s biggest coastal export hub, sees annual earnings growth of up to 6.1 percent and expects to finish plans to enable big ships to dock at its wharves over the coming year.
The port operator forecasts annual profit of between $78 million and $83 million in the year ending June 30, 2015, compared to earnings of $78.2 million in 2014, chief executive Mark Cairns told shareholders in Tauranga today. The company anticipates spending another $50 million dredging the harbour to complete its programme to allow larger vessels to berth, which it expects will help boost container volumes to 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units by 2017 from last year’s 760,000 TEUs.
“We consider that our relative competitive advantages are strengthening,” Cairns said. “We reckon we have a first class asset, unrivaled capacity for future growth with our strategic land holdings of 190 hectares and excellent road and rail connections.”
The port has ramped up its push to be the pre-eminent hub in New Zealand, taking a 50 percent stake in PrimePort Timaru, developing a new freight hub south of Christchurch and inking the deal with Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms-led logistics company Kotahi, which in turn made a 10-year commitment to ship containers with Maersk. Tauranga says the benefit amounts to 1.8 million export TEUs – 20 foot equivalent shipping containers - over 10 years.
Cairns said the company’s first quarter group profit was down 3 percent from the same period a year earlier, due to higher interest and depreciation expenses from the capital expenditure programme, though earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was up 3 percent. Container numbers were up 14 percent from a year earlier, and dairy exports rose 23 percent by volume, while log exports were down 14 percent, he said.
The company expects the Kotahi deal will deliver against contracted volume commitments, with milk production running 4 percent ahead of last year, Cairns said.
The company’s shares rose 0.4 percent to $16.16, and have gained 17 percent this year.
Bank of New Zealand chief executive Anthony Healy has challenged other Kiwi business leaders to think what they can do to contribute to five key issues the country faces.
The five issues include upskilling business owner-managers so they grow faster, capturing more opportunities from Asian economic growth, responding to environmental issues such as the degradation of our lowland waterways, getting faster uptake of digital opportunities in our businesses, and dealing with school underachievement.
Speaking at an Auckland business lunch today, Healy focused on five numbers.
The first is 450,000. That’s the number of small and medium-sized businesses in New Zealand who collectively contribute 28 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Healy said many SMEs grow to a certain size and scale and then fail to take the next step that would allow them to go global.
“The most common reason for not making this step-change is capability,” he said. Owner-managers need to invest in upskilling themselves as much as plant and equipment or distribution channels, he said.
The second number is 470,000 – the estimated number of Aucklanders of Asian origin by 2012, up 75 percent from today. Taking advantage of this shift requires a changed attitude from some New Zealanders as much as it does on open borders and trading arrangements, he said.
“I do find the occasional knee-jerk response to some types of direct investment from some countries a little disheartening. It betrays a close-mindedness that can seem at odds with our self-image as a generally confident, connected, outward-facing and tolerant nation,” he said. Old institutions also need to act in new ways and commit to true staff diversity, he said.
Third on the Healy index was 62 percent – the percentage of New Zealand’s lowland river waterways officially classified as unsuitable for swimming. Healy said this was not just a farmers’ issue – the problem was collectively owned by anyone who has eaten anything produced on a farm. He cited the example of Taupo beef cattle farmers Mike and Sharon Barton who have a nitrogen cap on the catchment they farm. The Bartons fund the costs of water quality protection by adding brand value to their beef which provides them the money to deal with the problem.
The fourth number is 517,000. That’s how many New Zealand premises can access ultrafast broadband yet less than 40,000 do so. Digital technology enables savvy kiwi producers to expand their world trade and sell direct to consumers in ways that would have been inconceivable a few years ago, he said.
The BNZ faced the same digital challenges with Accenture estimating competition from non-banks could erode one third of traditional bank revenues by 2020. “It’s self-evident to me that these threats will have powerful digital propositions at their core.”
And the final figure was 26 percent – the percentage of New Zealand students in 2013 who left school without a qualification at NCEA level 2 or above. Healy posed the question whether it was acceptable in a country the size of New Zealand that one in four school leavers have no qualification.
“We should throw the kitchen sink at improving this statistic,” he said. Profitable businesses had the capacity to play a role in helping tackle some of the issues behind school underachievement and benefit dependency, he said. The BNZ’s community initiatives include a scheme launched earlier this year, in partnership with the government and church groups, offering low and no-interest loans to kiwis who don’t meet traditional credit criteria.
Auckland International Airport, the country’s main gateway, has confirmed it’s likely to deliver an underlying net profit of between $160 million and $170 million this financial year, in line with the guidance it gave in August.
Chairman Henry van der Heyden said at the annual meeting in Auckland today, his first address to shareholders, that the result would be broadly in line with the underlying net profit the airport recorded in the June 30, 2104, financial year.
Following a strong financial performance last year which included a $454 million return of capital to shareholders in April, the company said its main focus for this financial year was continuing to implement its business strategy – Faster Higher Stronger. The strategy involves growing travel markets, strengthening its consumer business, being faster and more efficient, and investing for future growth.
Despite a slower start to passenger growth this year compared with last year, industry feedback suggests this upcoming summer will be one of New Zealand’s busiest ever, said chief executive Adrian Littlewood.
The company has been opening additional retail, food and beverage stores including a new DB bar at the international terminal and Littlewood said it planned to open several more in the next 12 months. It’s also considering bids for the duty free concession tender with a decision due early next year. In the first few months of the year online duty free sales have been eight times higher than they were in the previous year.
It has also started the 50 percent expansion of the Ibis hotel following growth in its hotel business in recent years and is planning for a third hotel at the airport.
Littlewood reiterated plans for its 30-year vision for the airport which will see build a long-delayed second runway on airport-owned land around 2025 to cater for an expected almost trebling of passenger numbers to 40 million by 2044. The second runway may also need to be extended in 30 to 50 years to meet the needs of the larger aircraft forecast to fly into Auckland in future, he said.
The first part of the vision – a 2,500 square metre expansion of the international baggage hall – is due for completion by the end of next month. The expanded hall, the first step towards a combined domestic and international terminal, will increase net lettable area for retail stores by up to 80 percent
Work has also begun on a concept design to expand the international terminal’s departure area to handle the forecast higher passenger numbers. The airport did a $26 million upgrade of its domestic terminal building last year which Littlewood said gave it plenty of time to develop a planned new domestic terminal.
NZ Yarn, a joint venture between Elders Primary Wool and Primary Wool Cooperative, have bought Christchurch Yarns NZ out of receivership for an undisclosed amount.
The Christchurch-based wool spinning company was tipped into receivership in April, owing $7.2 million to general security agreement creditors including Westpac Banking Corp, while preferential creditors were owed $1.2 million, according to the first receivers report on June 11. The plant was damaged in the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and had failed to regain customers lost during the business disruption, while a sharp appreciation in the New Zealand dollar had further weighed on its export business, which made up 98 percent of its revenue.
“The sale has been confirmed,” receiver Andrew Oorschot of Ashton Wheelans said in a statement. “The business will continue to operate as a going concern, providing ongoing employment opportunities for those working at Christchurch Yarns and ongoing supply for its loyal customer base.”
The news comes after Cavalier Wool Holdings and New Zealand Wool Services International announced yesterday they will merge their two wool scouring operations. The merger, pending Commerce Commission approval, will create a wool scouring monopoly and is a bid to insulate the sector from the threat of offshore scourers, particularly those in China.
“It was imperative that the business remained an independent, fully operational New Zealand yarn spinner,” said Elders Primary Wool chairman, Stu Chapman. ”The onshore and offshore commercial opportunities this acquisition brings are substantial for EPW, the Just Shorn programme and the New Zealand wool industry.”
Earlier this year, South Island investor Carr Group has bought Elders Rural Services New Zealand, for an undisclosed amount from ASX-listed Elders Australia and New Zealand-based Sredle Rural Services. The Ashburton-based investor is expanding its Winslow agribusiness, which is a conglomerate of rural-focused businesses including farming and dairy machinery services, grain, feed and seed companies as well as owning The Honey Company. Elders Rural Services has livestock and wool agents across the country, farm supplies and rural insurance offerings.
Elders Primary Wool is a wool broker, and is 50 percent owned by Winslow, with the reaming controlled by the farmer-owned Primary Wool Cooperative.
The Christchurch Yarn deal will be settled Nov. 21, and NZ Yarn will continue to seek grower investment up until Nov. 19, it said.
New Zealand is the world’s third largest wool exporter, supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool.
Pyne Gould Corp, the asset management firm controlled by managing director George Kerr, has sold its 27 percent stake in Equity Partners Infrastructure Co No 1 after failing to take control of the investment company and oust its board.
The Gurnsey-based sold its entire 41.89 million shares of Epic, at 30 British pence per share netting 12.6 million British pounds, it said in a statement. In New Zealand dollar terms it equates to 60 cents per share, or $25.4 million, and was 60 cents above Pyne Gould’s carrying value for the investment which will be reflected in its results to June 30, 2014, it said.
The firm had wanted to lift its holding in Epic, which has a minority stake in UK motorway operator Moto, to 49 percent so it could sack the board and force it to cut administration costs and focus on minimising debt to increase shareholder value. It also wanted to finance the company through a related entity. Pyne Gould was planning to offer Epic shareholders Pyne Gould stock, which would have diluted Kerr’s stake to 67 percent from 80 percent.
The Epic board advised shareholders against Pyne Gould resolutions to oust the directors, and warned investors Pyne Gould’s offer of funding was unusual and not in Epic’s best interest.
“Following the recent takeover of Epic by United Kingdom interests, Pyne Gould no longer has the opportunity to control Epic and, therefore made a pragmatic decision to sell its stake to those interests associated with Epic Investor LLP,” Pyne Gould’s Kerr said.
The firm said it also reached a settlement with Epic, ending litigation in the High Court of England and Wales over Epic’s repayment of a 525,000 pound loan which Pyne Gould claimed was due on or around May 9 with an 8 percent annual interest rate. Epic repayed Pyne Gould the amount, and waived its $2.6 million counter claim over outstanding payments owed by Kerr’s firm. Pyne Gould paid Epic $380,000 in legal costs, it said.
Pyne Gould and Kerr have been closely linked with the Epic fund over the years, terminating its management contract in 2012 with an $8.9 million payment after it was advised Kerr’s takeover would trigger pre-emptive rights in the shareholders’ agreement for its 17.5 percent stake in UK motorway service operator, Moto.
The firm relocated to Guernsey, a British Channel Island often described as a tax haven, at the start of this year as part of its exit from New Zealand to focus on Australian and UK investments. It plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, where it believes it will have better growth prospects.
Trading in Pyne Gould’s shares was suspended on Oct. 9 by the stock market operator and regulator, after the firm failed to lodge its annual report by the required deadline. The firm had expected to release the report by mid-October, and said today it would update the market on its audited annual report by the end of this week.
Before being suspended the shares last traded at 38 cents and have declined some 21 percent since the start of the year.