Scales upbeat about NZX debut

MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 17:38 25/07/2014

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Agribusiness Scales Corporation made an unspectacular debut as a listed company on the NZX today, its shares ending the day 2 cents below their $1.60 issue price.

The shares opened marginally up at $1.61 but eased down in afternoon trading.

Scales managing director Andy Borland was philosophical about the debut.

"In this market, we'll call that a positive outcome," he said.

Scales owns the country's biggest apple-growing and exporting operation, Mr Apple. It also runs a coolstores and logistics business and a pet-food ingredients processor.

NZX head of markets Aaron Jenkins said Scales' listing was the sixth initial public offering and the first in the agricultural sector this year.

Scales offered 93 million shares for sale in an offer which closed on Tuesday. About 18.75 million were new shares to raise $30 million for the expansion of the business.

The rest of the shares were those being sold by its main shareholders, Direct Capital Investments, and co-investors the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and ACC, which retained a combined total of 20 per cent of Scales shares.

Demand for the shares had exceeded the number available, the company said.

Scales chairman Jon Mayson said 12 domestic institutions, several global agricultural funds and retail clients of broking firms had invested in Scales shares.

Borland said the IPO would halve Scales' debt from $60m to $30m, would help fund expansion, particularly in Asian markets, and would provide liquidity to existing shareholders.

He was "not too concerned" about the continuous disclosure requirements the company would be required to comply with as a listed company.

"We are used to keeping the board informed, now we will be keeping the market informed," Borland said.

Scales in May reported a particularly good apple harvest had contributed to a record profit of $20.4m for the year to December 31, up 50 per cent from $13.6m in 2012. Revenue rose 17 per cent to $273m.

In its prospectus issued last month, the company forecast a profit of $15.9m on revenue of $254m for its 2014 financial year.

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