Cooks Food Group lists on NZAX

A group of food operations became only the second company this year to list on the New Zealand stock exchange.

Cooks Food Group joined the NZAX alternative exchange today, under a compliance listing carried out through Tasman Capital.

In its listing document, Cooks said it was formed to consolidate three stand alone businesses -- Cotterill and Rouse, Murdoch Foods, and Sahara Foods.

The aim was to become a food manufacturing company, based on sustainable quality, which had the innovation and scale to compete successfully in this country, and potentially overseas.

Most of Cooks' products fitted in to the segments of chilled vegetarian foods, salad dressings and mayonnaise, Asian sauces, and chutneys, pickles and relishes.

The three companies consolidated into Cooks had comparatively small market share, being strong regionally but not having a strong national position, the document said.

The companies' processes were predominantly manual and their small size limited their buying power and made them unattractive as business partners in overseas markets.

But Cooks did have a strong and experienced management team which saw exporting as the means to sustainable growth and continued success.

Consolidation had created an opportunity to invest in new infrastructure and introduce new systems.

The transactions carried out to establish Cooks were based on a combined entity value of $5.5m.

The company had 22m ordinary shares, of which 19.6m were covered by an escrow deed, under which shareholders would not dispose of the shares for a year following listing.

About 2.18m preference shares were also issued at 25c each, which could be converted to ordinary shares or redeemed for cash at the end of 2010.

Cooks chairman Keith Jackson said he would like to see the company's share price at a minimum of 25c. By lunchtime no shares had been traded.

The company was not seeking an initial public offering at this stage, Mr Jackson said.

The only other listing on the stock exchange this year was Geneva Finance in July. Before that the most recent was NZ Farming Systems Uruguay last December.

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