Durban - Consol, the glass packaging company, started trading its 315.4 million shares at R12 a share on the support services sector of the JSE Securities Exchange yesterday, giving the company a market capitalisation of R3.8 billion. The share price rose rapidly to R12.45 and by 2pm, 3.4 million shares had changed hands for an overall value of R41 million.

But the stock lost value over the day to close 3.33 percent down at R11.60, with 10.12 million shares having changed hands in 370 trades.

Consol's unbundling from AVI, to enable its parent to focus on branded consumer products and services, has been welcomed by investors as it creates the opportunity to invest directly in the biggest glass manufacturing business in South Africa. Reuters said the combined price of the two shares was above AVI's closing price on Friday, which traders said indicated the unbundling operation had been a success. A trader said: "What you are getting is about R26.50. We think they are worth about R27.

"It's a good result, a good listing. AVI was expected to trade around R15 and Consol around R11. Right now, AVI's looking the cheaper option, and I guess you'll see a bit of selling on Consol."

Consol's managing director, said the company would be able to use its strong cash flow generation for future growth and to maximise returns to shareholders.

"Consol's leading expertise in glass packaging and its customercentric marketing efforts will continue to deliver competitive earnings growth for investors," he said.

The Consol shares will be distributed in the ratio of one Consol share for every AVI share held. Russell Loubser, the JSE Security Exchange's chief executive, said South Africa was an attractive listings destination for established businesses like Consol, as well as entrepreneurs.

"Consol's listing augurs well for our investor community and reaffirms that South Africa has many quality investment opportunities to offer local and international market participants," he said.

Consol operates two main divisions, namely glass and plastics. Glass forms the main part of the business, having contributed R1.9 billion of turnover in the financial year to June 2004.

Consol has a 75 percent share of South Africa's glass packaging market. Plastics made a contribution of R220 million to the company's financial turnover in 2004.

Consol is due to report its maiden results for the six months to December tomorrow. Analysts have forecast headline earnings a share of 54c.