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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as Infratil flags equity raising for Vodafone deal

By Paul McBeth

May 14 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell as infrastructure investor Infratil flagged it will raise new equity to help fund its share of the $3.4 billion takeover of Vodafone New Zealand.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 56.48 points, or 0.6 percent, to 10,070.35. Within the index, 29 stocks fell, 18 rose, and three were unchanged. Turnover was $155.6 million.

Infratil fell as much as 6.1 percent, and ended the day at $4.48, down 2.6 percent on a bigger volume than usual of 2.1 million shares. The investment firm will pay $1.03 billion, matched by partner Brookfield Asset Management, for Vodafone New Zealand, which will also take on $1.3 billion of debt. Infratil will pay its share of the purchase price by raising up to $400 million in an underwritten equity offer, draw on a $400 million debt facility for acquisitions, and use up the headroom left in its existing bank facility.

Chief executive Marko Bogoievski said Infratil and Brookfield paid the market price, something Fat Prophets head of research Greg Smith viewed as a full price, and potentially weighing on the stock.

James Lindsay, a senior portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management, said Vodafone chief Jason Paris was confident about rebasing costs in the business.

"It's a reasonably easy and transparent playbook about what they need to do," Lindsay said.

Paris also talked up Vodafone's prospects of pushing into fixed wireless broadband, something rival telco Spark New Zealand has done to reduce its reliance on Chorus's fixed-line network. Lindsay said that may have weighed on Chorus, which was down 2.9 percent at $6.10.

Spark rose 0.8 percent to $3.715 on a volume of 3.8 million shares.

Infratil also noted the potential competition concerns the Commerce Commission may raise over its controlling stake in electricity generator-retailer Trustpower, which has branched out into broadband services. Trustpower led the market lower, down 3.5 percent at $6.95 on a volume of 91,000 shares.

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units fell 1.2 percent to $4.25 on a volume of 206,000 units. Fonterra yesterday announced the sale of its Tip Top business for $380 million, some $100 million above book value. Fonterra's farmer-owned shares were also down 1.2 percent at $4.25.

Lindsay said the rest of the market was pushed around by fears over the US-China trade stoush, which has seen the resumption of tit-for-tat tariffs.

Exporters were among those sold off today, with Vista Group International down 1.8 percent $5.58. The cinema analytics firm was the most heavily traded stock on a volume of 4.9 million shares.

Synlait Milk fell 1.9 percent to $10, Air New Zealand declined 1.3 percent to $2.715 and Pushpay Holdings dropped 1.3 percent to $3.95.

Of other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Z Energy slipped 0.3 percent to $6.21, Fletcher Building fell 2.2 percent to $4.95, Oceania Healthcare declined 1.9 percent to $1.03, Meridian Energy decreased 0.4 percent to $4.185, and Kiwi Property Group increased 0.3 percent to $1.54.

Goodman Property Trust, which reports annual earnings tomorrow, rose 0.9 percent $1.785.

Vital Healthcare Property Trust rose 2.2 percent to $2.36 on a volume of 122,000 units, posting the biggest gain on the benchmark index.

(BusinessDesk)

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