New Zealand shares fell as the local bourse joined a global selloff in equity markets amid concern Britain could leave the European Union in a move that could lead to the further splintering of the regional bloc. Coats Group, Orion Health Group and Metlifecare led the decline.

The S&P/NZX50 Index fell 47.51 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 6924.27. Within the index, 37 stocks fell, 11 rose and two were unchanged. Turnover was $93 million, with the Queen's Birthday holiday in Australia keeping Australian investors on the sidelines.

Asian equity markets were a sea of red, with the Nikkei 225 Index down 3.2 per cent in afternoon trading and Hong Kong's Hang Seng down 2.6 per cent.

Britain votes on June 23 on whether to leave the EU. An ORB poll published in the Independent newspaper on Friday showed Britons who wanted to leave, a Brexit, were 10 points ahead of those wanting to stay in the EU. The Vote Leave campaign, however, was reported as saying the split was more like 50-50.


"All the major offshore markets were down over the weekend - there's a lot of fear over whether the Brexit is going to happen," said Greg Easton, an adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "It is going to be disruptive to sentiment as much as anything."

Coats, which is due to de-list from the NZX and ASX on June 24, fell 4.4 per cent to 55c, leading the index lower. Orion declined 3.1 per cent to $4.75 and Metlifecare fell 2.6 per cent to $5.70.

Metro Performance Glass declined 2.2 per cent to $1.79 and Air New Zealand fell 2 per cent to $2.175.

Spark New Zealand fell 0.8 per cent to $3.325, edging back down toward the 4-month low it reached last week amid concerns it will face a tougher rival if Vodafone merges with Sky Network Television. Sky TV itself fell 1.4 per cent to $5 on doubts a merger will be enough to revive the fortunes of a company facing online content rivals.

Vital Healthcare Property Trust fell 1.8 per cent to $2.25, Freightways declined 1.7 per cent to $6.78 and Summerset Group dropped 1.7 per cent to $4.55.

Restaurant Brands, the fast-food store operator, fell 1.6 per cent to $5.48.

Nuplex Industries rose 0.2 per cent to $5.36. The company yesterday released the independent advisers' report on Allnex Belgium's $1.05 billion offer along with the notice of special meeting. Grant Samuel's assessment values Nuplex's business operations in a range of $1.12 billion to $1.20 billion, or between $5.36 and $5.86 per share. Allnex, which is controlled by Boston private equity firm Advent International, has offered $5.43 a share plus the interim dividend of 12c, making a total of $5.55.

TeamTalk dropped 8.3 per cent to 55c, having touched a record low 48c.

GFNZ Group was unchanged at 5.6c. The finance company formerly known as Geneva Finance lifted annual profit 61 per cent by growing its loan book while widening margins in a low-interest rate environment.