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MARKET CLOSE NZ shares gain as Auckland Airport offers tax-efficient return, Air NZ up

New Zealand shares rose, after Auckland International Airport proposed a tax-efficient capital return of $454 million and Air New Zealand continued to trade in heavy volumes, rising above the price of the government selldown.

The NZX 50 Index rose 10.103 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4809.455. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 18 fell and ten were unchanged. Turnover was $315 million, including $203 million, or 22.5 million shares of Fletcher Building.

Auckland Airport climbed 1.6 percent to $3.47. The capital return, via a cancellation of one in 10 shares at $3.43, will allow the nation's busiest gateway to complete the transaction with minimal tax implications for shareholders, while leaving it with sufficient resource to fund its capital spending and preserve its A- credit rating.

"It's a good outcome for investors," said Shane Solly, who manages more than $200 million at Mint Asset Management. "In lieu of a dividend this is a more effective outcome."

Air New Zealand rose 2 percent to $1.67, surpassing the $1.65 a share at which the government sold 20 percent of the airline. The shares initially fell after the selldown, reflecting some imbalances in the sale allocations.

"Air New Zealand is working its way through its placement," Solly said.

Chorus, the network operator facing regulator enforced price cuts, fell 2.5 percent to $1.785. Any hope the government had that its support partners would vote to allow direct intervention on the price of copper-wire broadband services has evaporated with the United Future and Maori parties both pledging not to support such legislation.

"Chorus is getting knocked around again with these comments on the copper tax," Solly said.

Telecom, which pays Chorus for access to its copper lines, rose 0.4 percent to $2.315.

Fletcher Building fell 0.8 percent to $9.15 and the biggest stock on the NZX 50 was also the heaviest traded today, with a block trade going through via the ASX, which may trigger a substantial security holder notice.

Mint's Solly said notwithstanding today's volumes, the company "is still benefitting from the general recovery in Australia and New Zealand and to a lesser extent, the US."

Abano Healthcare was unchanged at $7.20 after a bidding group led by Archer Capital withdrew its proposed takeover of the company.

Comvita, the Manuka honey products company, rose 1.4 percent to $3.70 after saying a margin squeeze resulted in a first-half loss of $790,000.

Kathmandu, the outdoor clothing chain, rose 3.1 percent to $3.72 and was the biggest gainer on the NZX 50.

(BusinessDesk)