16 Oct 2015

Business Briefs

5:02 pm on 16 October 2015

A round-up from Radio NZ's business desk, today featuring Contact Energy, Mad Group, Sky Television and Progressive Meats.

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Photo: 123RF

Mad Group to expand in US

Fast-food retailer Mad Group is poised to expand into the United States.

The company, whose brands include Habitual Fix and Mad Mex, has signed a master franchise agreement to open new Habitual Fix stores in the United States early next year.

Mad's managing director James Tucker said it had high hopes for growth in the US although its initial plans were for 30 stores in 10 years in South Caroline and Florida.

He said their US partner had the ability to open more stores if the brand took off, but they wanted to be careful about how they went about it.

"It's all about the execution and getting that first few years of it right and, if we nail that, the potential is huge," Mr Tucker said.

Meet NZ's Entrepreneur of the Year 2015

The head of a Hawke's Bay meat company has been named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2015.

Craig Hickson, the founder of meat processor Progressive Meats, was awarded the title last night, beating out five other finalists.

The judges said he demonstrated a level of innovation and entrepreneurship that was unusual and exceptional in a traditional industry.

Mr Hickson started Progressive Meats in 1981 with just a handful of staff and today it is an integrated business with several hundred staff involved in venison, lamb, and beef processing, and exporting.

He will represent New Zealand at EY's World Entrepreneur of the Year event in Monaco next June, competing for the title against winners from more than 60 countries.

Fashion designer and philanthropist Annah Stretton won the social entrepreneur of the year award for her work with RAW (Reclaim Another Woman), an initiative which mentors women in prison and then supports them in turning around their lives.

Contact Energy plans to buy back shares

Contact Energy has said it plans to buy back 25 million shares on the stock exchange over the rest of the 2016 financial year.

Its chief executive, Dennis Barnes, said it had no near-term plans for large capital investments, so a share buyback was an efficient way of distributing funds to shareholders.

First NZ Capital has been appointed to act as Contact's broker for the buyback.

Contact shares closed yesterday up 3.5 percent at $5.07.

Opposition to Sky TV resolution

The Shareholders' Association says it will be voting against Sky Television's resolution to increase its annual directors fees, by more than a quarter, at next week's annual meeting.

The pay TV and digital entertainment provider is asking shareholders to approve a near 27 percent increase in the directors fee-pool to $950,000, from $750,000

The chair of the association, John Hawkins, said Sky TV hadn't provided enough information to justify the increase.

He said the proposed increase could see the directors' base fee rise by 54 percent to $100,000, from $65,000.

However, Mr Hawkins said the association could be persuaded to change its mind, if Sky could provide additional detail on how the fee pool would be allocated.

New Owner for International Antarctic Centre

New Zealand tourism operator, Real Journeys, has bought the facility for an undisclosed sum and is planning a multi-million dollar upgrade of the attraction, which is based at the Christchurch International Airport.