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Tree cropper plans to list

TWO years after buying into Australian Stock Exchange-listed plantation timber player Australian Plantation Timber, Integrated Tree Cropping has decided to take the ASX route.

The company plans to make a compliance listing on the Australian Stock Exchange on March 23.

However, the company has taken an unusual route to the market by sending out two prospectuses.

The first is to about 350 preference shareholders on ITC Timberland’s register.

ITC Timberland owns ITC’s land interests.

These shareholders will have the choice of changing their preference shares to ITC shares ahead of the listing.

The second prospectus will be for a rights issue to raise about $36 million.

Majority shareholder Futuris will underwrite up to $30 million of that issue and Patersons Securities is to underwrite the rest. Patersons will also act as lead manager.

Futuris has also agreed to extend the repayment date of its existing loan facility – drawn to $23.5 million – until May 31.

In a letter to ITC Timberlands shareholders ITC executive chairman Tony Davies said proceeds from the rights issue would be used to repay all of ITC’s debts and fund further expansion opportunities.

"It is also intended to appoint two other firms as brokers to the issue in order to gain further market interest and support for ITC," he says.

The board for the new venture will be non-executive chairman David Gilham and directors Les Wozniczka – who is also CEO of major shareholder Futuris, Tony Davies, Donald Watt and Charles Bright.

A glance at the new board highlights one glaring omission – Tony Jack, the man who took ITC from his Albany lounge room to a 100,000 hectare forestry player.

Mr Jack said he had never envisaged himself as the CEO of a large company.

"I prefer to develop businesses," he said.

"I’ve had a few parties approach me on a number of fronts but I haven’t had a chance to really look at them.

"My main interest is on the environmental side of what we [ITC] have been doing."

Independent analyst Peter Strachan was relatively bullish on the prospects for the timber player.

"By the end of the decade the State will be producing 4 million tonnes of woodchips," he said.

"I think the better crops will start to come through in 2005-06."

ITC has about 100,000 hectares of eucalypt plantations in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

It has also developed a management regime for the establishment and management of tropical forestry and particularly Indian sandalwood.

The company has about 300 hectares of Indian sandalwood plantations near the Ord River Irrigation Area at Kununurra.

 

“My main interest is on the environmental side of what we [ITC] have been doing.”

-         Tony Jack

 

 

 

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