MIDDAY UPDATE: Govt launches new innovation agency

Feb 1 (BusinessDesk) - The government has launched the cornerstone of its policy to encourage new, high value, high-tech products and services across science, engineering, design and technology disciplines.

To be known as Callaghan Innovation, the institution brings together the former crown research institute Industrial Research Ltd, the business investments team at the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, the Auckland Foodbowl initiative, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's Lean Manufacturing programme.

It will commence operations with 400 staff and offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Its early focus will be "to refine the services and support it provides to best serve New Zealand business - driving innovation and commercialisation of products and services and economic success," said Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

"Callaghan Innovation will work across industries as diverse as food and beverage manufacturing, agri-tech, digital technologies, health technologies, therapeutics, and high-value wood products.

"The common theme is encouraging innovation and higher value products and services." .

SkyCity eyes Philippines, no concrete plans yet

SkyCity Entertainment Group, which recently quit its stake in the Christchurch casino, says the market in the Philippines is "attractive" but nothing needs to be told to shareholders yet.

The company made a statement to the stock exchange after chief executive Nigel Morrison told the New Zealand Herald the company has sent top executives to Manila and might make a move this year.

Morrison said SkyCity has enough strength in its balance sheet to make the investment, which was reported at some $200 million.
"We are always looking at ways to grow the business beyond our existing markets and proactively review new opportunities to create shareholder value," Morrison said in a statement. "Whilst we have visited the Philippines and consider the market to be attractive, there is nothing that requires disclosure to our shareholders."

At midday, shares in the Auckland-based company were unchanged from yesterday's closing price of $3.97.

Kathmandu promises stonking first-half profit growth

Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment retail chain, has boosted first-half profit by as much as 75 percent on the strength of sales across the Tasman. The shares climbed to a 13-month high of $2.34 by midday.

Net profit was between $9.5 million and $10.5 million in the six months ended Jan. 27, compared to $6 million a year earlier, the retailer said in a statement. Full details are due out on March 26.

The improvement came from a 13 percent increase in sales to $165.8 million, and was in line with management's expectations, it said.

The company didn't provide annual guidance, saying 60 percent of sales and at least 70 percent of earnings will come in the second half of the year. It has previously said it expected to beat its 2012 result.

"Given this trading pattern and the volatile nature of the retail trading environment, we remain cautious about our full-year result," said chief executive Peter Halkett said.

The first-half result will be released on March 26.

(BusinessDesk)

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