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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall, paced by AMP; Wrightson jumps

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall; AMP paces decliners, Wrightson soars

By Jason Krupp

Dec. 24 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand stocks fell as pre-Christmas inertia sapped early gains established after China's Agria Corp. and New Hope Group teamed up to take control of PGG Wrightson Ltd. Australian wealth manager AMP Ltd. paced decliners on the exchange.

The NZX 50 Index fell 4.54 points, or 0.13%, to 3,329.21. Within the index, 16 stocks declined, 17 gained and 17 were unchanged. Turnover was $59.6 million.

PGG Wrightson, New Zealand's largest rural services group, soared 14.6% to 55 cents, after it told shareholders to hold off accepting a 60 cents-a-share partial takeover offer pending an assessment of the deal.

The "don't sell" notice comes after Pyne Gould Corp. signed a ‘lock-up deed’ with Agria for its 18.3% holding in Wrightson. Taken together with Agria's existing 19% stake, the partial takeover offer would only require a further 13% to give the bidders a majority holding. Pyne Gould rose 5.4% to 39 cents.

"It was a bit cheeky launching the bid on Christmas Eve," said Stuart Hardie, an adviser with Craigs Investment Partners.

AMP Ltd., the company awaiting regulatory approval to takeover Axa AP, fell 1.5% to $7.10, pacing decliners on the bourse. The stock has declined 10.8% in value so far this year.

Fletcher Building Ltd., the country's biggest construction company, fell 1% to $7.75.

OceanaGold Corp. fell 2.4% to $4.80 after the gold miner said it would be increasing the mining rate at both its Macraes and Reefton open cut mines.

The increased activity is to remove overburden to maintain access to the ore being mined. A new excavator and two new trucks will be commissioned at the Macraes mine in North Otago to assist increasing total mining.

Property for Industry fell 1.1% to 94 cents after the specialised industrial property investment fund managed by AMP Capital Investors said it secured a new five-year bank debt facility of $150 million.

The fund said the refinancing had taken place well in advance of the expiry of PFI’s existing facility, which was extended until September 2011. The new facility is provided by a syndicate comprising ANZ National Bank Ltd. and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

NZX Ltd., which operates and regulates the stock exchange, was unchanged at $1.55 after it sold its 30% stake in funds management business Appello Services Ltd.to the company’s existing shareholdings, saying Appello no longer fit its strategy.

The bourse operator will book a $70,000 write-down on the sale, which will be included in the 2010 accounts.

It bought the Appello stake in 2007 for $650,000 and pumped in a further $30,000 the following year, though the carrying value depreciated through the global financial crisis. As at June 30, NZX’s investment in Appello was worth $279,000, according to the first half report.

New Zealand Oil & Gas, the energy exploration and production company, rose 1.2% to 84 cents after the Accident Compensation Corporation, the state-
controlled accident insurer, lifted its stake in the company to 6.4% from 5%.

ACC paid 81 cents a share, based on the total price paid for 1.5 million shares.

About 2% of the company, or 8.3 million shares, has changed hands in the past three days. The past month has seen the biggest daily volumes since November 2008.

Goodman Property Trust, the commercial property investor, rose 1.1 to 94 cents after it announced that it had completed its debt refinancing programme with the renewal and extension of a further $357 million of facilities.

The refinancing includes new terms on Goodman's main $330 million debt facility, with staggered expiries over the next 5 years, and the extension of $27 million of debt funding for its Viaduct Corporate Centre joint venture to February 2015, according to a statement from the trust.

Auckland International Airport, the country's busiest gateway, rose 0.5% to $2.17 after Emirates said it would increase seating capacity on the Auckland-Brisbane-Dubai route by 672 seats, from around 220 currently, when it replaces the current Airbus A340-500 with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft next year.

(BusinessDesk)

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