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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by A2 on ASX debut

New Zealand shares rose after A2 Milk Co debuted on the ASX. Warehouse Group, Genesis Energy and Metlifecare declined as the companies gave up rights to dividends.

The NZX 50 Index rose 12.696 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5833.985. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 18 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $137 million.

A2 advanced 12 percent to 56 cents on the NZX after the milk marketing company debuted on the ASX at 55.5 Australian cents, with A$1.8 million worth of shares changing hands at 5pm in Wellington. A2 plans to launch in US from mid-April, in Californian supermarkets and natural products grocers, and has budgeted US$20 million over the next three years for the new market.

"They debuted on the ASX market and that has created some additional demand from the Australians and pushed that price up," Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene said. "A launch into the US market comes with great opportunity but quite a lot of risk as well but time is going to tell on that. A2 has a very big exposure to the Australian fresh milk market so it is very well known in Australia, probably more so than in New Zealand."

Warehouse Group fell 6.3 percent, or 18 cents, to $2.66, as it gave up the rights to its 11 cents per share interim dividend. Yesterday the company said chief executive Mark Powell will retire by next February. The retailer has come under pressure from analysts and investors who say they want the company to start producing profit growth after spending hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling stores and buying new businesses the past few years. Powell, who has led the upgrade programme after taking over almost four years ago, previously expected annual profit growth to resume this financial year but lowered the forecast for the full-year earlier this month.

"The search for CEO will go on," Williamson said. "They are also ex-dividend today, so that is 11 cents of that fall, and not as bad as it seems."

Genesis Energy fell 3 percent, or 7 cents, to $2.24 as the partially privatised energy retailer and generator shed rights to its 8 cents per share interim dividend. Metlifecare, the retirement village operator, declined 0.8 percent, or 4 cents, to $4.72 as it gave up rights to its 1.5 cents interim dividend.

NZX was unchanged at $1.11. SuperLife, the funds management business owned by the stock market operator, has lifted its stake in Energy Mad to 45.6 percent after underwriting the unprofitable lightbulb maker's $2.2 million rights offer.

​Spark New Zealand, formerly Telecom Corp, gained 1.7 percent to $2.98. Kathmandu Holdings, the outdoor goods retailer, advanced 2.2 percent to $1.38. Ebos Group, the animal care and healthcare firm, advanced 1.9 percent to $10.70.

Outside the benchmark, Kirkcaldie & Stains was unchanged at $1.68. The upscale Wellington department store named former managing director Philip Shewell as acting chief executive while it searches for a replacement for John Milford.