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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; SkyCity gains on earnings, Tower surges on takeover, Sky TV drops

Thursday 9th February 2017

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New Zealand shares rose, with SkyCity Entertainment Group gaining following its first-half earnings while Tower soared 42 percent on a takeover bid.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 55.36 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,121.63. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 16 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $96.3 million.

SkyCity Entertainment Group led the index, up 6.2 percent to $3.97. New Zealand's only listed casino company posted an 18 percent lift in first-half profit as improved trading at its key Auckland casino offset a weaker performance from its Australian and high-roller businesses, while the year-earlier profit was hit by writedowns.

"There's ongoing growth in Auckland, positive momentum appearing to return and you've got some projects in Adelaide and New Zealand that could be earnings-accretive acquisitions getting closer day by day," said Rickey Ward, NZ equity manager at JBWere. Against that, "you've got international business which is important to this company showing weakness towards the end of that period, which creates a bit of negativity."

A2 Milk Co rose 4.2 percent to $2.49, Metro Performance Glass gained 2.7 percent to $1.54, and Summerset Group Holdings advanced 1.9 percent to $4.86.

Sky Network Television was the worst performer, down 1.1 percent to $4.33, while Meridian Energy dropped 0.6 percent to $2.70 and Contact Energy declined 0.4 percent to $4.79.

Infratil dipped 0.2 percent to $2.875. The infrastructure investor said a shortage of court space in Wellington due to the November earthquake means hearings on Wellington International Airport's bid to extend the runway to make room for long-haul flights will likely be pushed out to June. Infratil owns two third of the airport company.

Outside the benchmark index, Tower jumped 42 percent to $1.12. Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings has offered to buy Tower for about $197 million. The Canadian company has offered to pay $1.17 a share, a 48 percent premium from Wednesday's closing price. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Tower board, and shareholders holding 18 percent of the company - Salt Funds Management and ACC - have entered into firm voting agreements in favour of the transaction. 

"It's further highlighting that there is value in our market when a lot of us don't believe there is, here's a company that's met difficulties in the past through an event no-one predicted, and the share price didn't fairly reflect the improvement underlying the earnings," Ward said. "It just highlights again, corporate activity shouldn't be ignored. My guess is investors will prefer a takeover bid over a demerger, because it still has an element of uncertainty about it."

Creditors have placed failed crime-fighting software company Wynyard Group into liquidation, the company announced today. Wynyard listed on the NZX in 2013, with investors paying $1.15 a share. The stock closed as high as $3.12 in March 2014 but shares were worth just 21.5 cents when the company eventually went under last October.

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