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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall led by Meridian; Fliway drops on debut

New Zealand shares fell in today's trading led by Meridian Energy as its installment fee came due. Fliway Group dropped below its offer price in its debut on the NZX.

The NZX 50 Index fell 12.545 points, 0.2 percent, to 5847.17. Within the index, 18 stocks fell, 20 rose and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $127 million.

Meridian dropped for the eight consecutive day, down 2.9 percent to $1.85. The partially privatised energy company listed on the bourse in October 2013, with the shares offered in installment receipts to sweeten the offer, with $1 upfront and the promise of full entitlement to dividends, and the remaining 50 cents in May 2015.

"Meridian remains under a fair amount of selling pressure as we head into the payment for date for their installment to convert them into fully paid shares," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Not surprising that some investors will be selling ahead of having to make that payment or at least reducing their shareholding and raising funds to make that payment."

Outside the benchmark index, Fliway Group fell 0.8 percent to $1.19, 1 cent below its $1.20 offer price, marking the first listing on the bourse for 2014. The transport and logistics company raised $34 million via initial public offer, with existing shareholders Duncan and Gretchen Hawkesby retaining 54 percent of the South Auckland-based company, after selling 20.9 million shares, fewer than the 23.5 million originally planned, to net $25 million. A further 7.5 million of new shares were sold to raise $9 million in new capital, of which $6.5 million will be used to reduce the company's debt to $12.5 million, according to the prospectus.

"A disappointing start on the market this morning - it did have its head above water initially but that didn't last very long," said Williamson. There's not a lot of demand for the shares post listing this morning. A number of investors will be long term in this and looking to the financial performance of the company going forward," he said. "Other investors who were more likely to stag the stock will obviously be disappointed and could very well be the ones doing the selling."

Blue chip stocks fell as investors cooled their heels after the benchmark index's 5.2 percent gain since the start of the year. Investors were being more cautious as offshore markets were slightly more volatile, Williamson said. Spark New Zealand, formerly Telecom Corp, fell 1.3 percent to $2.94. Fletcher Building, the construction and building supplies firm, declined 0.8 percent to $8.24.

Outside the benchmark index, Michael Hill International fell 3.4 percent to $1.14. The listed jewellery retailer says a drop in same store-sales in its biggest market of Australia in the first nine months will put pressure on its full-year result.

Sanford, New Zealand's largest listed fishing group, rose 0.2 percent to $4.81. The company is in consultations with 232 staff who look likely to lose their jobs at the company's Christchurch mussel processing plant due to a shortage of natural spat supply.