Stock Takes: Trustpower receives bids, Synlait’s new brand, AFT’s US deal

Trustpower, New Zealand’s fifth biggest electricity company, said it had received a number of non-binding indicative bids for its retail business following its announcement of a strategic review in January.

The board had reviewed the proposals and had progressed into the due diligence stage of the process, Trustpower said.

A further update to the market on the strategic review will be provided “in due course”.

Tauranga-based Trustpower has more than 230,000 customers across electricity, gas and broadband.

The review was designed to test interest in the business while also exploring the merits and business case to establish a standalone generation business.

Any sale is likely to have a major impact on the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT), which owns more than a quarter of Trustpower’s shares. Customers of Trustpower typically receive rebates from the trust.

Trustpower said changes to the retail energy markets were the “primary” driver of the review.

“Electrification and decarbonisation, decentralised energy, digital trends in service provision and utilities convergence are all shaking up traditional operating models,” chairman Paul Ridley-Smith said in January.

Shares in Trustpower last traded at $8.67, having gained 38.5 per cent over the past 12 months.

Synlait launches new brand

Synlait Milk has launched a “Made With Better Milk” premium brand that will initially cover whole milk and skim milk powder.

Chief executive Leon Clement said the brand was a premium-ingredients offering built upon the sustainability credentials of Synlait’s best practice farming system and its integrated manufacturing and supply chain.

New Zealand-made milk nutrition ingredients had a name for quality and safety.

“However, as we compete with other countries and categories in the food industry, we need to keep raising the game to differentiate ourselves,” he said in a statement.

“That game is being played out in terms of environmental and social performance and we’re excited about having a product that allows us to better meet what our customers are asking for.”

Synlait farmers have been building their credentials since the “Lead With Pride” farming best practice scheme was launched in 2014.

The new brand’s first customer is a prominent consumer brand owner in Asia, Clement said.

Synlait’s shares last traded at $3.36, having dropped by 52.6 per cent over the past 12 months.

AFT signs deal with Hikma

Shares in AFT Pharmaceuticals rallied sharply after it announced a US distribution deal.

AFT said it signed an exclusive license and distribution agreement with Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA for the commercialisation of its Maxigesic IV, an intravenous, opioid-free post-operative pain relief medicine, in the United States.

The agreement represents the first out license of the Maxigesic family of medicines into the US market, AFT said in a statement to the NZX.

AFT, over the longer-term, is also targeting the US market for the tablet and liquid forms of the medication.

Under the terms of the license agreement, Hikma will have exclusive rights for the sales, marketing, and distribution of Maxigesic IV in the US.

In return AFT will be entitled to upfront, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to US$18.8 million as well as a profit share from in-market product sales, AFT said.

Shares in AFT last traded at $4.40, up 40c or 10 per cent from Tuesday’s close.

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