MRP directors mop up shares as price slides, blackout period looms

Trio buys up after the slide in the state-controlled power company's price since its listing.

Mighty River Power directors have taken advantage of the slide in the state-controlled power company's price since its listing, buying up shares before trading restrictions for the board kick in at the end of the month.

Shares in MRP were unchanged at $2.44 today, still below their $2.50 listing price, having shed almost 11 percent from the high it reached on its debut on May 10. The stock is rated an average 'buy', according to a Reuters survey, with a median price target of $2.82.

While some investors have been willing to sell below the listing price, three MRP directors, including chairwoman Joan Withers and her deputy Trevor Janes, have been buying shares on market, according to disclosure notices lodged with the stock exchange.

The directors face a "blackout" period on May 31, when restrictions are placed on their ability to trade until the company's earnings are announced. The next "blackout" period kicks off on November 30 and lasts until the first-half results are announced.

Mr Janes made the biggest acquisition on May 28, buying 41,600 shares at $2.363 apiece, or $98,300, according to a disclosure notice lodged with the NZX.

His purchase came as director James Miller went on market to buy shares three times as the price fell, with 4,000 shares at $2.48 on May 24, 2000 more at $2.45 on May 27 and a further 2000 shares at $2.38 on May 28.

Ms Withers bought 12,500 shares at $2.57 apiece on May 16.

When directors and officers buy shares on market, it is typically viewed as a vote in confidence in a company, implying the trading price is below internal valuations.

MRP is New Zealand's second largest listed electricity company, after Contact Energy and displacing TrustPower, and is expected to be included in the NZX 50 Index, perhaps in July, once it has satisfied NZX rules requiring shares to trade and demonstrate their qualification for inclusion.

Both will be eclipsed when Meridian Energy is listed later this year, which may come in two tranches because of its size.


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