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InvoCare’s Bledisloe unit seeks clearance to expand in NZ by buying Christchurch crematoriums

Bledisloe New Zealand, the local funeral services arm of Australia's largest undertakers InvoCare [ASX: IVC], has sought antitrust clearance to buy the 70-year-old Cremation Society of Canterbury adding two crematoriums to its New Zealand network.

Auckland-based Bledisloe is seeking Commerce Commission approval to buy the company that owns Harewood Memorial Gardens & Crematorium and Woodlawn Memorial Gardens and Crematorium in Christchurch. Bledisloe already owns three Christchurch funeral parlours and a headstone maker although it has no capacity to cremate bodies in the city, the government regulator said in a statement.

ASX-listed InvoCare set up its New Zealand subsidiary in 2007 and bought Bledisloe in 2010 for an enterprise value of A$114 million. The group has been expanding its New Zealand holdings, acquiring four funeral parlours last year, bringing its total to 29 businesses across the country.

In 2013 New Zealand sales were A$32 million with a 19 percent margin although the company estimated a 1.9 percent decline in deaths during 2013, according to InvoCare's annual report. The Cremation Society is ultimately owned by a group of Christchurch-based investors, according to the Companies Office.

The Commerce Commission decision is due Friday, May 16.

(BusinessDesk)