Home' Greymouth Star : January 12th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, January 12, 2015 - 7
Expatriate New Zealand businessman Eric
Watson is changing tack with his planned
United States dairy farming venture, which
is to merge with an American iced tea maker.
Georgia-based Cullen Agricultural
Holdings, of which Mr Watson owns about
57%, has entered into an agreement to merge
with iced tea manufacturer Long Island
Brand Beverages, with a view to break into
an increasingly fragmented ready-to-drink
tea market worth some $US5.3 billion
($NZ6.81b), the companies have announced
in a joint statement.
The deal is expected to be completed in the
first quarter of this year, rebranding Cullen
Agricultural as Long Island Iced Tea Corp
and installing the iced tea maker’s chief
executive Philip Thomas as head of the
Once the transaction closes, the owners
of Long Island Brand Beverages will
receive 39.5 million shares in the combined
company, representing about 63%, according
to documents filed with the Securities and
That leaves Cullen Agricultural with 37%
and implies Mr Watson, whose fortune was
estimated at $400 million in the National
Business Review 2014 rich list, will own
about 21% of the merged entity.
He will not sit on the board of Long
Island Iced Tea Corp, having stepped down
as chief executive and chairman of Cullen
Agricultural in November 2013.
The board will include human rights activist
Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of assassinated
US Senator Robert Kennedy and Cullen
Agricultural’s chief executive Paul Vassilakos.
“The segment is growing quickly as teas edge
out other bottled beverages that consumers
consider unhealthy,” Mr Vassilakos said.
“ We believe favourable market dynamics
and consumer trends combined with Long
Island Iced Tea’s premium ingredients, bold
taste and strong brand awareness will enable
it to maintain strong growth in the Northeast
and expand to other markets in the future.”
Cullen Agricultural sought to export New
Zealand’s farming techniques into the US,
using cheaper and more productive methods
on as much as 16,000ha of land mainly used
The company struggled to attract financiers
after the global financial crisis and was forced
to change its strategy, selling 1470ha of land.
Watson pours milk
into US tea market
New Zealand crossbred wool, which
accounts for the majority of the
country’s production, declined 3% at the
latest auction as high seasonal supply
and a strong local currency weighed on
The price for 35-micron clean wool,
commonly used for carpets, fell to
$4.95 per kilogram at last week’s North
Island auction, down from $5.10/kg at
the previous auction on December 18,
according to Agri HQ.
Wool prices softened at the latest
auction amid high seasonal supply from
the “main shear” season from December
to early February.
Main shear typically accounts for
about 60% of the annual crossbred wool
An increase in the New Zealand dollar
since the last auction affected exporters,
with the dollar recently touching a two
and a half-year high against the euro and
close to its record.
“A high seasonal supply typically
weighs on prices at this time of year,”
Agri HQ agriculture analyst Ivan
Luketina said. “Currency movements
since the last auction have moved
against exporters too, especially for those
exporting to Europe.”
A slump in the price of oil, which has
fallen to its lowest level in five and a
half years, has also hurt wool prices as
alternative synthetic fibres, such as nylon
for carpets, become cheaper.
“ Despite the potential for good
fundamental growth from the United
States housing market growing this year,
if synthetics are more favoured due to
the oil price drops, it could well mean an
overall decline in demand for wool,” Mr
Still, clean lamb wool prices have
bucked the trend, rising 1% to
$6.05/kg in the latest auction on
demand from China for the fibre which
is typically used in clothing.
Dry weather in the Otago region may
crimp supply as farmers with lower
pasture growth delay shearing because
it stimulates feeding, Mr Luketina said.
Supply, currency weigh down wool prices
Two Uber drivers face court
amid a crackdown that led to an
Auckland DJ being kicked out of
his cab yesterday.
Tim Phin, George FM DJ and
publisher of Remix magazine,
posted details of Saturday ’s
“ We pay the police to find
crack dens, prevent rapes, stop
burglaries. Not to kick me out of
a car,” he wrote.
Thompson said they had travelled
about 200m along Great North
Road, Ponsonby, when police
pulled the car over and ordered
them to get out.
“It’s a bit ridiculous. The cop
stuck his head in the window and
asked us if this was an Uber and
then told us to get out because
Uber was operating illegally,” Mr
“ We contacted Uber after wards
and they filed a police complaint
on our behalf, so that ’s pretty
Uber claims an officer has
been targeting drivers and
leaving passengers stranded.
“ We have filed complaints with
the Independent Police Conduct
Authority for this unacceptable
and potentially dangerous
behaviour,” U ber spokeswoman
Katie Curran said.
Police denied that claim, saying
officers dropped off passengers
at their homes or in the central
city where licensed cabs were
available — but confirmed
“several private hire drivers” had
been issued infringement notices.
“ We take our responsibility to
ensure public safety seriously
and where police stop a vehicle
that has passengers on board,
police will look to ensure they
have a safe way of getting home,”
acting district commander for
Auckland city police, Inspector
Jim Wilson, said.
The clampdown comes amid
growing controversy over the
ser vice, which is increasing in
popularity because of its easy
access and low prices but is
under fire from established taxi
The Uber app works by
connecting passengers with
drivers in their city through
their smartphone. Once a driver
is available, a screen comes up
calculating the fare.
Uber is registered as a private
hire company, much like a
limousine ser vice, so must agree
to a set fare and not use a meter.
That law has landed two drivers
in court for allegedly using their
smartphones as taxi meters.
Aby Philips and Ajay Singh
Panai appeared in the Auckland
District Court last month
facing two charges under the
Land Transport Act. They were
charged with determining a
fare other than by way of a set
fare or an hourly rate agreed
with passengers at the time of
booking, and with using a taxi
meter to determine a fare.
They will reappear in court next
month and could face fines of up
to $10,000 if found guilty.
Uber launched in San Francisco
in 2009 and now operates in
53 countries and more than 70
cities including Auckland and
In several North American
cities Uber has been accused of
running an illegal taxi operation
that flouts industry regulations.
Kate Styles, national manager
operations for the Transport
Agency, said it had met Uber
to discuss the way it charged
“U ber has been clearly advised
of its obligation (which is) to
provide passengers with a set
fare at the time of booking or an
hourly rate,” she said.
— NZ M E-New Zealand Herald
Police pounce on
Researchers are using a remote-
controlled jetboat to get close
to a powerful and mysterious
University of Canterbury
deployed the jetboat to learn
more about iceberg calving
(where chunks of ice break off )
at Tasman Glacier in Aoraki-
Mount Cook National Park.
The jetboat was sur veying
the terminal face of the glacier,
which was too dangerous for
regular boats to approach.
Glaciologist Dr Heather Purdie
was working with departmental
technician Paul Bealing, local
Explorers and colleagues from
the Otago School of Sur veying.
Dr Purdie said learning
about the glacier terminus
was important for helping
understand the glacier retreat
process and was also of interest
to the local guiding company.
“At times a ramp of ice can
extend out from the terminus
below the waterline, which can
lead to iceberg calving,” she said.
The boat had a deep-water
echo-sounder and a global
positioning system. A wireless
modem transmitted location and
water depth information back
to researchers who could stay
on the Glacier Explorers’ boat a
safe distance from the face of the
“Paul uses a first person viewer
camera system to control the
boat. Depth data gathered by the
unmanned jetboat is calibrated
against a dual-frequency echo-
sounder, supplied and operated
by Otago researcher Emily
Tidey,” Dr Purdie said.
“Much of what we know
about calving glaciers has
been developed in marine
environments, there is still much
to learn about the processes that
drive and shape the glaciers
that terminate in freshwater
environments,” Dr Purdie added.
The University of Canterbury
said the Tasman Lake was more
than 200m deep.
“I am very interested in what
is happening under the water,
and this data from the boat will
help us calculate ice melt under
the water and learn more about
how glacial hydrology influences
calving retreat,” Dr Purdie said.
Remote-controlled jetboat helps glacier research
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