Tamsyn Parker 's Opinion

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Stock Takes: Share buy up

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Details of the pricing and yield have seen increased demand for the Meridian Energy float. Photo / Richard Robinson
Details of the pricing and yield have seen increased demand for the Meridian Energy float. Photo / Richard Robinson

Market players have welcomed Mighty River Power's share buyback programme but say it may need to be extended to make a material difference.

The listed power company yesterday announced it would buy back $50 million of shares between Tuesday and October 14 next year as part of a capital management programme.

Share buybacks typically reduce the number of shares on issue in a company, boosting the value of the remaining shares.

Shane Solly, portfolio manager at Mint Asset Management, said it was a good sign for the company's share price which has languished below its $2.50 issue price.

"By definition it means the board and management believe the share price is undervalued."

Solly said he hoped it was the start of more to come.

"As a one-off event it's helpful and supportive."

But Solly said examples by other companies showed buybacks needed to be ongoing to make a difference.

William Curtayne, a senior analyst at Milford Funds Management, said at 1.8 per cent of the shares it was not a large buyback.

"You can see buybacks as large as 10 per cent which would be much more material. However, this can be expanded next year."

Cynics may also look at the timing with interest. The start of the buyback period coincides with the last week of Meridian Energy's retail offer.

Mighty River Power shares closed up 3c yesterday at $2.23.

LAST PUSH

Next Friday is the cut-off for the Meridian Energy retail offer. Typically the last few days of a public offer are when most of the money comes in as investors hold it in their bank accounts until the last minute to make the most of interest accruals.

Stock Takes understands the offer is doing better than expected. Initial demand is said to have been dampened by investor fatigue after the Z Energy float.

But details of the pricing and yield have switched the sentiment around.

Martin Poulsen, head of wealth management at First NZ Capital, said demand was steady. The company received a spike-up in hits on its website after releasing free research last week.

Poulsen said the Mighty River Power and Meridian share floats had highlighted the importance of research and the practical challenges around people getting advice.

"Clearly the new rules make it difficult for people to get advice. Clearly it's more difficult for investors who might not have as much money."

BUSY END

Brokers and fund managers are expecting a busy end to the year with two new sharemarket floats and two share sell-downs due before the end of the year.

There is the giant float of Meridian and technology minnow GeoOP which is aiming to list without raising money from the general public.

A block trade by shareholders in Metlifecare is expected to come some time after November 23 when the escrow stopping the shareholders from selling comes off.

And of course there is also the expected partial sell-down by the Government of its three-quarter stake in NZX-listed Air New Zealand.

But despite the positive market conditions some deals are still not quite getting there.

Last week a property deal linked to former activist fund manager Simon Botherway was officially postponed and there is speculation a second proposed property sharemarket float may be pulled from the market.

Sources close to the deal say it will still happen but the timing is up in the air.

The property float is said to involve the development of a new retail centre in Auckland's northwest and be linked to Milford Mall owners New Zealand Retail Property.

A decision is expected to be made soon on whether it will go ahead before Christmas.

DEAL LEADER

Deutsche Bank is leading the way in terms of equity capital raisings this year.

Figures from Dealogic show the investment bank, which also owns 49.9 per cent of broker Craigs Investment Partners, raised $880 million up to September 26.

That money was raised across five separate deals and does not include its part in Meridian Energy where it is a joint lead manager.

Goldman Sachs, which is also involved in selling Meridian, is in second place with $796 million while Macquarie is in third at $516 million.

On the debt raising side Westpac has raised $1.4 billion up to September 26 through four deals beating out National Australia Bank which has raised $1.14 billion across eight deals.

Deutsche has just done a deal to merge its corporate advisory arm with Craigs' capital markets team to create Deutsche Craigs.

Deutsche's New Zealand chief executive Brett Shepherd has moved over to head up the newly established company. Deutsche is on the look out for a new country-level boss.

WALL OF CASH

Looks like it's not only our sharemarket that the Aussies are starting to follow.

They are also following our lead when it comes to moving money from cash into riskier investments.

Research from Australia's Core Data Private Bank Intelligence unit found high net worth individuals have 19.6 per cent of their assets in cash while the mass affluent have about 37.5 per cent.

A year ago 60 per cent said they had no plans to rebalance from cash but that is now down to just under 40 per cent.

The research found 15 per cent had already started to move their money from cash, a similar number planned to do so in the next three months and a further 15 per cent hoped to within a year.

Frank Aldridge, managing director at Craigs Investment Partners, New Zealand's largest retail broker, said: "They [Australians] are about 12 months behind us, we were starting to see it 18 months ago."

It's probably no surprise given how well the NZX has performed in the last two years.

The NZX 50 was up 24 per last year and is up more than 17 per cent so far this year.

- NZ Herald

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Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor. A business journalist for ten years, she has worked in the UK and NZ for the New Zealand Herald, the National Business Review and a specialist publication on investment products for financial advisors. She is passionate about helping readers learn more about to make their money work for them.

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