MIDDAY UPDATE: Mad Butcher joins NZX in roundabout way

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) - The Mad Butcher has joined the NZX in a roundabout way after shell company Veritas Investments agreed to buy the franchisor business for $40 million.

The NZX-listed firm will pay $20 million in cash and $20 million in Veritas shares in a deal that will made Mad Butcher owner Michael Morton the biggest shareholder in the company. Morton will remain chief executive of the Mad Butcher unit and join the Veritas board once it’s completed.

Veritas plans to raise more capital in March next year from institutional and retail investors, alongside a shareholder and director warrant programme. The firm will also undertake a 30-for-1 share consolidation before the issue.

Shares is Veritas almost doubled in trading today, climbing 6 cents to 13 cents.

Capital + Merchant trio to stay in jail

The Court of Appeal has upheld the guilty convictions and jail terms for Capital + Merchant Finance directors Owen Tallentire, Neal Nicholls and Wayne Douglas.

Justices Terence Arnold, Rhys Harrison and Lynton Stevens dismissed the appeal against their conviction for theft by a person in a special relationship and upheld the seven-and-a-half year prison terms handed down to Nicholls and Douglas and the five-year sentence to Tallentire, according to a judgment made in the Court of Appeal yesterday.

"Simply put, this is theft on a grand scale," the judgment said.

The appeals were against Justice Edwin Wylie's interpretation of the intention element relating to the crime, and that the sentences imposed were "manifestly excessive."

The judges turned down the appeal, saying the judge didn't err on the convictions, and that "taken as a whole, the reasons for verdict amply demonstrate that the intention element was proved beyond reasonable doubt."

The appeal court judges also upheld the sentences, saying the offending was "in many respects commercially breathtaking."

Chinese visitors now New Zealand's number 2 pool

A 38 percent jump in the annual number of Chinese touching down in New Zealand has seen the world’s most populous nation topple the UK as NZ’s second-biggest pool for visitors, though still well behind Australia.

There were some 194,752 short-term Chinese arrivals in the 12 months ended Nov. 30, up from 141,289 a year earlier and 1200,222 in 2010, according to Statistics New Zealand. That trumped the 191,360 British short-term visitors, which fell an annual 17 percent, though is still dwarfed by the 1.16 million Australian visitors.

“Arrivals from China have grown dramatically in the last 20 years, from only 3,300 in 1992,” said population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn. “In contrast, visitor numbers from the United Kingdom have been declining for the last five years.”



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