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PGG Wrightson plays down potential fine over livestock fees

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PGG Wrightson played down an admission that it is likely to be fined by an investigation into price fixing in livestock charges, saying that the penalty is unlikely to be big enough to warrant a dent to its share price.

PGG Wrightson, or PGW, said that the Commerce Commission fair trade authority has "signalled its intention to seek a pecuniary penalty" from the company, New Zealand's best known farm services group, over charges implemented following the introduction of animal tracing rules three years ago.

The commission, known in New Zealand as ComCom, "has indicated that it has reached the view that the Commerce Act has been breached", PGW chief executive Mark Dewdney said.

However, the group, while failing to detail the proposed fine, said that in its view, and taking account of New Zealand Stock Exchange rules on disclosure, "the proposed level of that penalty, while significant, is not materially price-sensitive for PGW".

Collusion claims

PGW, which said that it was in "ongoing dialogue" with the Commerce Commission over the investigation, stopped short in its statement of admitting or challenging the potential ruling, which relates to the implementation of National Animal Identification and Tracing Act (Nait).

The commission is investigating claims that PGG Wrightson and some rivals colluded on prices of services, such as tagging, related to the introduction of the legislation.

However, Mr Dewdney said that "we take the issues that have been raised very seriously.

"The introduction of the Nait programme was extremely challenging for the livestock industry and PGW committed a lot of effort and resources into making its implementation as effective as possible."


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