MIDDAY UPDATE: Kiwi dollar charges to 9-month high

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 12 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar climbed to a nine-month high 83.95 US cents today and is probably heading beyond 84 cents.

Currency traders are gearing up for tomorrow's Federal Reserve meeting where the US regulator is expected to announce more money printing with the end in sight for a programme where the Fed would buy long-dated debt and sell bonds with shorter maturities.

New Zealand's dollar has been labelled a "headwind" for the economy by the Reserve Bank, which says its strength is holding back exporters who sell their products in US dollars, and knocked local manufacturers who haven't been able to compete with increasingly cheap imports.

On a trade-weighted basis, which measures the kiwi against the greenback, yen, Australian dollar, euro and British pound, the kiwi is at a 16-month high, having climbed up to 74.96.

Smartpay spends $16.3 mln buying Wellington-based rival

Payment and transactions service provider Smartpay will spend $16.3 million in cash and shares buying Wellington-based rival Viaduct in a deal that will create the country's biggest eftpos terminal operator.

The Auckland-based company will spend $14 million in cash and $2.3 million in scrip acquiring the assets, which it will pay for by taking on more debt and asking institutional and sophisticated investors to buy shares at a 14 percent discount.

The placement and shares issued to Viaduct’s owners are priced at 15 cents apiece, a 14 percent discount to Smartpay’s 17.5 cents trading price. The acquisition, which is valued at 31 percent of Smartpay’s market capitalisation, will be put to shareholders in January.

The shares have since dropped 5.7 percent to 16.5 cents.

Cheap pizza helps Restaurant Brands lift third-quarter sales

Pizza cheaper than $5 helped lift Restaurant Brands' third-quarter sales 0.5 percent to $72.2 million as its Pizza Hut chain, which has been a perennial underachiever in recent years, registered the fastest growth across the group.

The Pizza Hut stores boosted total sales 3.5 percent to $11.1 million, with an 18 percent gain in same-store sales.

The pizza restaurant’s $4.90 deals offered “a strong value-based entry and headline price point for Pizza Hut in a very competitive and crowded market,” the company said. The same store sales increase was particularly pleasing because the same period last year included the “busy Rugby World Cup.”

Tauranga port buys logging marshalling unit

Port of Tauranga, the country's biggest export port, will spend $34 million on Mount Maunganui-based log marshalling and scaling business Quality Marshalling.

The deal will take effect from February next year and immediately add to the port's earnings, the company said in a statement. Quality Marshalling had revenue of $18 million in the 2012 year, and is privately owned by local forestry businessman Ken Holmes.

The port's shares decreased 0.4 percent to $13.05 in trading today, and have climbed 31 percent this year.

(BusinessDesk)

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