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Telecom's rebranding fails to ignite NZX

JOHN ANTHONY AND MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 15:32 08/08/2014
stuff.co.nz

Telecom has rebranded and will now be known as spark.

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The sharemarket has reacted unkindly to Telecom's rebranding as Spark New Zealand today.

The telco's share price was down 3.5c, or 1.2 per cent, at $2.83 this afternoon.

Blair Gilpin, telecommunications analyst at sharebroker Forsyth Barr, said investors would now be focused on the company's results for the 2014 financial year, to be announced on August 22.

Gilpin said he was expecting a "positive story" in the results based on cost savings from the telco's headcount reduction and savings from suppliers and other areas.

He also expected continuing pressure on the company's mobile revenues and on profit margins for fixed-line calling and data.

Forsyth Barr's rating for Spark would remain as "underperform", Gilpin said.

Spark managing director Simon Moutter said the name change would herald a more modern service from the company.

"This is the day we're bringing Spark New Zealand to life," Moutter said at the launch in Auckland today.

"We've moved on from Telecom to a brand that will serve our digital services future rather than our landline past."

Spark took advantage of today's rebranding to launch a crowdfunding platform that will be used to raise funds for New Zealand projects.

Spark My Potential is a free-to-use pledge website for selected candidates.

The service gives access to crowdfunding coaching and in some cases additional funding from Spark.

Moutter said Spark My Potential would build on the company's online fundraising tool, Givealittle, which was open to charities, schools, individuals, teams and groups.

The Spark Foundation bought Givealittle in 2012, and donations on the site now total more than $1 million a month.

Spark My Potential is different from Givealittle in that candidates wanting to reach a goal are invited to be involved after they have expressed interest.

Spark has selected a list of inaugural candidates who will receive dollar-for-dollar matched funding from Spark from today until midnight on Sunday.

Candidates include North Canterbury tetraplegic Jezza Williams, who is looking to raise $22,000 to complete the London to Mongolia Rally, Gisborne surfer Ricardo Christie, who wants to raise $5000 to join the ASP world championship series, and Auckland dancer Chris Ofanoa, who is seeking to raise $35,000 to become a fulltime apprentice at the New Zealand Dance Company.

Moutter said customers could expect new programmes and services to be launched in the next few weeks. These would include Forward Live, a business coaching programme for corporations, and a new suite of cloud-based services aimed at medium-sized businesses.

He said Telecom senior managers had been mulling a rebrand for 10 years.

The new name was suggested by the company's logo, which soon became known internally as "the spark" after it was introduced in 2009, he said.

The most obvious change for customers and investors will be a series of name substitutions.

Telecom Retail becomes Spark Home, Mobile & Business, while Telecom Wholesale will now be known as Spark Wholesale.

Tickers on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges will change from TEL to SPK, and information technology services subsidiary Gen-i has been renamed Spark Digital.

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