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NZX sells Clear Grain Exchange

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/11/2016 Paul McBeth

NZX has sold the Clear Grain Exchange to the operation's head, Nathan Cattle, for an undisclosed sum, exiting a business that's incurred multi-million dollar legal costs over a dispute with the previous owners.

The terms of the sale are confidential, but not material to group earnings, and the deal is scheduled to complete on December 1, NZX said in a statement. The grain exchange was valued at $1.3 million as at December 31.

The stock market operator announced the sale of the grain marketplace as part of an overhaul to its agri division, which has been a drag on the group over the past year, with the unit's earning slumping 37 per cent to $291,000 in the first half of the year.

NZX has already sold the Country-Wide and Dairy Exporter magazines to its current head of agri business, Tony Leggett, leaving it with its agricultural data business and the Farmer Weekly publication.

"As a result of these sales, NZX's agri business is now predominantly focused on data and analytics, which is an attractive business in its own right, and continues to provide valuable information to support and develop agricultural commodity products," NZX said.

"These businesses are now being restructured into a single trans-Tasman business and NZX is recruiting for a new head for that business to drive growth across these activities."

NZX's 2009 acquisition of the Clear Grain Exchange for $A6.9m upfront and the prospect of $A7m in earn-outs ended up a dud for the stock market operator after the unit didn't meet expectations and created an acrimonious split with the vendors, who were still involved with the business.

That relationship deteriorated to the point where both parties sued each other, dragging on for several years before finally reaching the High Court earlier this year in a months-long hearing.

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