MetService pays $3m for MetOcean stake, giving access to valuable marine market

The weather forecaster will be able to expand its research capability and add customised oceanographic forecasting and consultancy expertise to its global offering.

MetService, the nation's state-owned weather forecaster, paid $3 million for a 49 percent stake in privately owned New Zealand oceanographic consultancy MetOcean Solutions, giving it a foothold in a market worth more than $10 million.

The purchase will allow Wellington-based MetService to expand its research capability and add customised oceanographic forecasting and consultancy expertise to its global offering. For MetOcean, the tie up enables it to expand internationally with an established partner.

"Joining forces with MetOcean helps us accelerate our development in the energy sector and springboards us into the rapidly-growing marine sector – a potential market of over $10 million – with established products and world-class expertise," MetService chief executive Peter Lennox says in a statement.

MetService is using debt to fund the purchase. The company had borrowings of $17 million as at June 30, 2012, although it intended to pay back $2 million of those loans after balance date.

In fiscal 2012, net profit fell 65 percent to $1.1 million after a one-time charge of $2.2 million for software development. Revenue rose 7.7 percent to $42.2 million, according to the company's annual report.

The Meteorological Service of New Zealand is a state-owned enterprise which provides weather information to industry, media and retail businesses around the world. The company last month renewed its $2 million weather presentation services contract with global broadcaster BBC.

The remaining shares in New Plymouth-based MetOcean are held equally between its three directors.

(BusinessDesk)