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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall as NZOG shares plummet

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall as NZOG shares plummet almost 30%

By Jason Krupp

Nov. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, led by New Zealand Oil & Gas after the trading halt was lifted and shares plummeted to their lowest level since March 2007 in the wake of the explosion at Pike River Coal Ltd.'s West Coast mine.

The NZX 50 Index fell 37.86 points, or 1.1%, to 3,258.76.15. Within the index, 37 stocks fell, 3 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $97.1 million.

NZOG, the energy exploration and production company and single biggest shareholder in Pike, fell 27.5% to 87 cents as question surrounding the ongoing viability of the coal miner started to surface in the wake of the explosion which trapped 29 people underground.

NZOG owns a 29% stake in Pike, and holds 17 million options, $29 million of convertible bonds and a short-term funding facility with $13.1 million outstanding. It also has an option until March 2013 to purchase Pike coal at market prices. Pike shares are still suspended.

"Pike is an unknown entity right now, and whether they are considered as an ongoing concern will come to light later," said Karl Williscroft, a trader with Direct Broking. "NZOG on the other hand has revenue streams and assets, and is still going to be a robust entity."

Steel & Tube Holdings, the manufacturer of steel products for the construction industry, fell 5.5% to $2.05, Goodman Fielder Ltd., the food ingredient manufacturer, fell 4.3% to $1.77, and Vector Ltd., the country’s largest listed network utility company, fell3.2% to $2.45.

Pumpkin Patch Ltd., the children's clothing retailer, fell 1.1% to $1.80 after it told shareholders at its annual meeting that the company is facing tough trading in all its markets, particularly in its largest market, Australia.

Managing director Maurice Prendergast said the company still plans to open 14 new stores in Australia during the current financial year including six of new Charlie & Me branded outlets, which are aimed more down market. It plans to open three more stores in New Zealand this year.

Williscroft said the market would be paying close attention to the Warehouse Group and Kathmandu Holdings annual meetings later this week and their outlook statements, with retailers seen as a barometer for the economy.

Hallenstein Glasson Holdings, the clothing retailer, fell 3% to $4.46.

PGG Wrightson Ltd., the rural services group, fell 4.1% to 46 cents after it bought Keith Seeds Pty. The deal follows the recent acquisition in New Zealand of the Corson Grain maize seed business.

No price for the transaction, effective Nov. 22, was given in Wrightson’s statement to the NZX. South Australia-based Keith Seeds produces pasture and oil seeds, a variety of legumes and even birdseed. It exports to South America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Vital Healthcare Property Trust, the specialist investor in medical clinics, fell 1.85 to $1.11 ahead of its annual meeting tomorrow where it will seek shareholder approval to expand into Australia and revise fee structures.

The Pyne Gould-led South Island bank merger has hit a few speed wobbles, with depositors at its finance arm, Marac, not turning out in big enough numbers to give the meeting a quorum. That followed an earlier meeting from investors in Marac's portfolio investment entity units supporting the deal.

PGC's shares were unchanged at 39 cents. Southern Cross Building Society's shareholders supported the deal at their meeting yesterday, though it too couldn't muster enough depositors to meet a quorum.

Telstra Corp., the Australian telephone company, rose 3.9% to $3.50, pacing gainers on the NZX 50. Property for Industry Ltd., the commercial property investor, rise 0.9% to $1.15, and SkyCity Entertainment Group, the casino and hotel operator, rose 0.6% to $3.19.

SmartPay, the merchant services provider, fell 3.3% to 2.9 cents after it said it was looking to tap wealthy private investors to fund its Australian expansion and lower finance costs through a bulk funding finance offer.

The offer, which is only open to individuals with $500,000 or more to invest, will be sold through wholly-own subsidiary SmartPay Subscriptions Ltd., using the parent company's assets, rental contracts and cash flows as security, the company said in a statement today.

Managing director Ian Bailey said returns are expected to be in the "12 percent plus" range.


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