Biz week brickbats and bouquets

ROELAND VAN DEN BERGH
Last updated 13:04 30/05/2014

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Bob each way: Icebreaker
Merino clothing maker, Icebreaker, has its hands full with a bat and bouquet in each. The bat comes from its remaining 50 Wellington head office staff who have been told to up sticks and head north to join 25 workers in the new "global headquarters" set to open in Auckland at the end of the year.

But the bouquet will come in handy to welcome former Air New Zealand "rock star" boss Rob Fyfe as its new chief executive.

Fyfe, known for his snappy and colourful dress sense, has served as Icebreaker's executive chairman for nine months and has been on the board since July 2012.

Bouquets: Tortoise and the hare
Two technology companies kicked off the week by unveiling plans to float on the NZX, each offering a different approach to promised shareholder wealth. Gentrack and Serko are both Auckland-based firms that sell software for businesses with a strong export focus, but there their similarities end.

Gentrack, which is seeking to raise up to $101.8 million from its float, has been in business for almost 30 years, making software that lies at the heart of billing systems for many power companies. Despite an impressive track record of profits the company does not seek to emulate the growth plans of market darling Xero.

Corporate travel software developer Serko, on the other hand, founded seven years ago, is yet to make a profit and doubts it will do so for at least the next two years. But it does promise revenue growth of more than 50 per cent this year. It proposes to use the $22m it hopes to raise from investors to expand in the Asia Pacific region.

Brickbat: Labour pains
Labour won't be counting on smaller listed companies to prop up its flagging poll ratings in the lead-up to the general election on September 20. Small companies on the sharemarket have performed significantly worse under Labour governments over the past 40 years due to larger swings in policies, according to researchers at Massey University.

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Their research found that under Labour the returns of small companies were less than half those compared with when National was in charge. Labour's terms in office were typified by poor economic conditions and policies that harmed small business, including deregulation in the 1980s and proposed energy sector reforms if it wins office, the research found.

- Stuff

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