Fred Dagg sells out, markets primed for Meridian, corruption barometer flaws and kiwifruit seized

John Clarke, the man behind quintessential Kiwi character Fred Dagg, explains why he has sold all his New Zealand shares.

John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg, has sold all his New Zealand shares, after a frustrating – and hilarious – series of compliance checks demanded by a financial institution.

In today’s National Business Review print edition, Australian-based Clarke recalls the dramatic meeting – overseen by the family cat – at which his family decided to jettison its small holding of Kiwi shares.

And he laments it’s difficult for financial institutions to succeed by “losing business and sending Gilbertian drivel to their customers.”

Business editor Duncan Bridgeman outlines why the timing’s perfect – for the government, at least – for the partial sell-down of Meridian Energy; although final pricing will dictate whether there is any value left for individual investors.

Business reporter Jamie Ball challenges New Zealand’s belief that it is whiter than white, revealing Transparency International’s global corruption perceptions index doesn’t actually measure business corruption.

Meanwhile, the revelations over Zespri’s Chinese smuggling allegations continue, with claims Chinese Customs seized 151 containers of kiwifruit in 2011, costing growers $8 million.

Construction giant Fletcher Building is targeting Auckland golf courses to fill its land bank.

Chris Hutching reports the Christchurch rebuild has failed to deliver for city council-owned utilities company City Care, which is expanding but going backwards financially.

In Economically Speaking, Neville Bennett explores the hourglass shape of US society and the startling revelation that 100 million American now live below or close to the poverty line.

In Business Traveller, Hamilton City Council is selling its shareholding of two hotels on the Waikato riverside – and tracks Accor’s plans for its Ibis hotel brand.

Lawyer and former MP Stephen Franks writes about little-publicised changes to competition laws, which might increase the risk of higher prices and excluding competitors.

Shoeshine gets déjà vu while writing about Abano Healthcare’s corporate activities. It’s reminiscent of a failed tilt at honey maker Comvita but, in a poke at the group headed by private equity firm Archer Capital, the column notes it’s hard to tell in the absence of a formal takeover offer.

Meanwhile, Private Bin picks up the curious case of the blogging lawyer rejecting a drug rumour and In Tray reveals the latest messages to apparently land in the Auckland mayor’s inbox.

All that and more in today’s National Business Review print edition. Out now.

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