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Biggest Infratil trade since January

Biggest Infratil trade since January, shares at more than six-year high

By Suze Metherell

Sept. 24 (BusinessDesk) - The biggest trade in Infratil shares since January has coincided with the price hovering above a six-year high.

About 1.5 percent of the Wellington-based investor, or 8.5 million shares, changed hands in one trade this morning at $2.79 a piece, or a total $23.7 million, according to Reuters data. Market sources said the sale was managed by First NZ Capital, which wasn't immediately available to comment. The purchase would make a new investor at least the 13th biggest shareholder in Infratil, in a share register that counted 15,591 investors as at May 19, according to Infratil's 2014 annual report.

The sale was the biggest since Jan. 16, when US investment fund Capital Group bought 22.6 million shares at $2.28, an investment of about $51.7 million, taking its total number of shares in the company to 30.4 million. Long-term Infratil investor Utilico Investments, a UK investor managed by Infratil director Duncan Saville’s ICM, was one of the January sellers, trading 17.1 million shares at $2.28.

The UK investor used to be known as Infratil International, whose directors included Saville, one of the original directors and a founder of Infratil, and had already reduced its stake in December from 13.3 percent.

Today's transaction comes after AMP Capital Investors (New Zealand) reduced its stake in the infrastructure investor to 4.96 percent, or 34.8 million shares, from a previously disclosed 5.94 percent in a series of transactions between Nov. 25, 2013, and Sept. 17, 2014, according to a notice lodged with the NZX last week. AMP Capital owned 6.2 percent as at May 19.

Other substantial shareholders named in Infratil's annual report include Accident Compensation Corp at 8.9 percent, Utilico at 8.8 percent, and The Capital Group at 5.4 percent.

Shares of Infratil shares rose 0.2 percent to $2.795, the highest since the start of 2008, and have advanced 15.3 percent in the past month, outperforming the NZX 50 Index's 1.4 percent gain over the same period. The stock is rated 'buy' based on the consensus of six analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median price target of $3.20.

Infratil shares have been rising on the prospect of a capital return after the A$605 million sale of its Australian energy operations, Lumo Energy and Direct Connect Australia, which will generate a $44 million fee for manager HRL Morrison and Co.

The stock has gained further since the election returned the incumbent National Party, returning Prime Minister John Key and his government for a third term. The election win shut down the threat of regulation to the energy sector, which Infratil is exposed to through its TrustPower investment, which had been a cornerstone policy for opposition parties in trying to drag down power prices for consumers.

Infratil didn't immediately respond to BusinessDesk inquiries.


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