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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Pike drops ex-rights, Genesis tumbles

Monday 3rd May 2010

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New Zealand shares fell, as Pike River Coal went ex its rights issue, while NZ Farming Systems Uruguay slid on speculation Rural Portfolio Investments may sell its 10 million shares of the company.

The NZX 50 Index fell 5.77, or 0.2%, to 3280.35, the first decline in three sessions. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, eight rose and 12 were unchanged. Turnover of $72 million was swelled by trading in Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Telecom Corp.

Pike shed 3.4% to $1.06. Investors had to hold the shares on April 30 to be entitled to the coal miner’s renounceable rights issue of 45.5 million shares at 88 cents apiece, raising $40 million to fund mine development and operations until it starts making export sales.

Farming Systems, which develops dairy farms in South America, shed 2.4% to 40 cents after Rural Portfolio, the investment vehicle of Baird McConnon and Craig Norgate, had its preference shares suspended saying it had run out of cash. Its remaining assets are shares in Farming Systems and a holding in PGG Wrightson.

“The market is of the firm view those shares will come out sooner or later,” said Paul Robertshawe, who manages $220 million at Tower Asset Management. The holdings could either be liquidated by the trustee or distributed in specie to bondholders, he said. Wrightson was unchanged at 53 cents.

Air New Zealand declined 1.5% to $1.34. The national carrier and rival Virgin Blue have agreed to seek regulatory approval for an alliance on trans-Tasman routes that would offer lower fares, code sharing and reciprocity on loyalty scheme and airline lounges. For the airlines, the tie-up would ensure planes travel with a fuller load and help maintain marginal routes.

“Strategically, this is sound,” said Robertshawe. “They’re trying to lower the capital intensity and up the capacity” on these routes.

Genesis Research and Development Corp., which is trying to advance its gene silencing technology, tumbled by 33% to 4 cents after announcing it has suspended New Zealand operations and said it may tip its assets into a new company as funds dry up.  It is awaiting word on whether a Japanese investor will put in more cash and has offered a discount to another group to pay an outstanding debt.

OceanaGold Corp. declined 3.8% to $3.30 even after announcing a "very promising" discovery of additional gold-bearing rock at its Frasers underground mine in Otago. The Melbourne-based company may have suffered as Australian mining stocks dropped on the ASX after the Rudd government's imposition of a super-tax of 40% on extraordinary mining company profits.

Heritage Gold NZ sank 7.7% to 2.4 cents.

Pan Pacific Petroleum declined 2.8% to 35 cents and ING Property Trust fell 2.6% to 75 cents.

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